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The University of New Mexico is launching a major branding initiative this fall, as a way to re-imagine how people define, view and experience UNM. The primary goals behind this effort are to elevate UNM’s relevance and reputation, increase enrollment, and build pride and loyalty among students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters.

“It’s a particularly relevant time for us to be thinking about our strategic identity: who we are, what we do and why it matters,” said Cinnamon Blair, UNM’s chief marketing & communications officer. “Technological, demographic, societal and financial trends in higher education are creating more competition among universities for top students, faculty, staff and resources.”

Last year, UNM engaged Research & Polling, Inc. to conduct a statewide image and perception survey in order to compare against results from previous surveys in 2003 and 2006. The research showed that while the overall perception of UNM was generally positive, there was a marked lack of familiarity with its academics programs.

“The branding initiative plays a crucial role in supporting the priorities identified in the UNM2020 strategic plan. To that end, we’re approaching this endeavor in a sophisticated and thoughtful way that will deliver results.” – UNM President Robert Frank.

The report stated that “the institution’s image and reputation could be enhanced by developing a coordinated and unified marketing and communications program that touts the University’s strengths and assets, specifically in regards to its academic programs.”

UNM has engaged the services of 160over90, a branding and creative services agency based in Philadelphia, Pa. The agency, selected through a competitive bidding process, has collaborated successfully with some of the leading research universities in the country, as well as a broad range of consumer clients. The amount budgeted for the agency is $500,000.

“Partnering with a respected agency like 160over90 will result in branding that is progressive, yet rooted in the traditions UNM has built over the past 126 years,” Blair said.

“The branding initiative plays a crucial role in supporting the priorities identified in the UNM2020 strategic plan,” said UNM President Robert Frank. “To that end, we’re approaching this endeavor in a sophisticated and thoughtful way that will deliver results.”

The initiative will be broken into four phases. The first phase is the discovery phase, which includes research, interviews, on-campus observation and competitive analysis; phase two is brand strategy development, which will involve definition of target audience and success criteria, and developing a creative brief; phase three is the development of brand concepts, depicting how the visual elements of the UNM brand could evolve; and phase four will include the building of assets and brand rollout plan, demonstrating how to communicate the brand components.

There will be numerous opportunities for involvement to a wide cross-section of the UNM community. Frank said that continued engagement and support is essential for this effort to be successful. As progress and updates on the branding initiative become available, they will be communicated through a variety of channels, including a brand strategy..

“This is an exciting opportunity to not only tell our story, but show our story, and let people experience our story,” said Blair. “A consistent and powerful identity will effectively reflect our competitive advantage, and become integrated throughout UNM.”