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Communications and Public Affairs


A brand is more than a logo, a slogan, a mascot or an ad campaign.

A brand is an enduring platform that articulates a unique identity and point of view. It is how a multifaceted institution like the University of South Carolina can connect with a variety of audiences through consistent, relevant and personal interactions.

A brand is:

  • the promise we make to our audiences
  • the essence of our organization
  • the experience we create
  • the personality we convey
  • the message we deliver
  • the identity we express


South Carolina's brand strategy consists of five key components: brand statement, brand purpose, brand story, brand personality and audiences. Together, these components create a singular and compelling brand for the university. The elements of the strategy should be consulted when developing any marketing, planning, campaigns or initiatives for the University of South Carolina.

Brand Statement

What we are all here to do; our unifying sense of purpose

The University of South Carolina is home for those seeking an intellectually stimulating education alongside an unsurpassed student experience. A place where all who enter and leave our gates understand our individual and collective role in moving the world forward, and gain a lifelong family who are bound by fierce loyalty to one another.

Who it's for:
Internal audiences

When to use it:

  • For situations such as training and onboarding to help make the brand platform more digestible
  • As an elevator speech
  • As a simpler, more distilled version of the brand platform

Why it's important: The brand statement is a representation of what we are all here to do — the commitment we collectively make, and individually deliver. The simplified language helps unify internal audiences around the university in a relatable, humanized way. It is the collective purpose to which we aspire.


Brand Purpose

Why we exist and the ideals we share

The University of South Carolina exists to help every individual:

  • Develop into their best selves (personal purpose)
  • Thrive as part of a community of lifelong learners (communal purpose)
  • Significantly influence the world beyond themselves (societal purpose)

Who it's for: 
Internal audiences

When to use it:

  • In employee training or onboarding
  • As part of an elevator speech
  • As a gut-check against the decisions we make and the spirit of everything we create

Why it's important: The brand purpose is, in its simplest form, why we exist as a university.


Brand Story

What we say and why it matters

It is important to craft benefit-driven messaging to reach audiences. Rather than leading with attributes — the things we do and the things we provide — communications should instead emphasize the benefits of a particular attribute to an audience. 

The message map helps us prioritize the most important messages for telling the South Carolina story and illustrates the relationship between attributes and benefits. Our key attributes, or brand pillars, are:

  • Our Mission: Creating innovative models of learning and research that uphold the highest standards
  • Our Approach: United by a welcoming and intellectually stimulating student experience
  • Our Aim: Driving entrepreneurship and visionary leadership in a thriving capital city, surrounded by opportunity

Our job is to demonstrate why our attributes matter — how they become benefits to our audiences, our community and our society. Any story or message should always connect to the center of the map: our core value proposition. 

Who it's for: 
Internal audiences, for use in crafting external messaging

When to use it:

  • In creating written and verbal communications
  • As the foundation for all unit work

Why it's important:

  • The brand story represents the shared attributes and benefits of the university at the highest level, yet is flexible for customization at other levels.
  • The brand story helps us craft benefit-driven messaging and ensures consistent communications across units.


Brand Personality

How we look, feel and sound

The brand personality sets the tone for the way we communicate. Grounded in the university's spirit, these traits authentically drive the voice and image for all communications. Put simply, the following six characteristics help us humanize the university.

  • Committed: supportive of the success of every individual
  • Confident: assertive and proudly passionate
  • Tenacious: ambitiously driven by impact
  • Welcoming: approachable, inviting
  • Optimistic: forward-thinking and creative
  • Trustworthy: loyal, acting with unwavering integrity



Who we need to reach

There is a profoundly diverse collection of audiences and individuals in South Carolina’s ecosystem that need to be supported by the brand so they can ultimately help attract others to the brand. These audience segments include, but are not limited to, prospective students, influencers, current students, university leadership, faculty and staff members, business partners and leaders, education leaders, community and state leaders, elected officials, the media and the community-at-large.

In order to deepen our understanding of our audiences and focus our messages, we need to move beyond these traditional audience segments and instead think contextually by considering five audience mindsets, including:

  • Deliverers: those who deliver on the university’s core value proposition
  • Believers: those who celebrate and trust the university
  • Champions: those who see our worth and invest in the university
  • Influencers: those who shape the university’s future
  • Beneficiaries: those who benefit from the university’s work

To best reach them, we have to define who they are, why they matter, what the need from us and what we want them to do on behalf of the university.


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