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Communications and Public Affairs

Benefit-Focused Messaging

Our content themes and brand pillars help us tell the University of South Carolina story in a way that will resonate with external audiences. We should never assume that the value of what we offer is self-evident; instead, it is our job to explain why what we offer matters.

Content Themes and Brand Pillars

Content themes give us an overall approach, while our brand pillars — embodied in the message map — help us clearly delineate the value of what we offer.

Content themes and brand pillars should be used together. Themes are a helpful starting point for developing a message, while pillars help us hone in on the specific attributes of the university that are at play in any given communications piece — and how those attributes become benefits for our intended audience(s). 

Themes align naturally with our brand pillars. Common points of alignment are shown below, but any theme can be aligned with any pillar.

Our content themes are:

  • Sharing UofSC’s unique hospitality (often linked with Pillar 2)
  • Championing the Gamecock family, (often linked with Pillar 2)
  • Making an impact in the world (often linked with Pillar 3)
  • Highlighting high achievers (often linked with Pillar 1)
  • Uplifting South Carolina (often linked with Pillars 1,3)
  • Shaping the future (often linked with Pillars 1,3)

 

Message Map

The message map helps us move from a general content theme to a specific benefit-focused message, guiding and prioritizing how we tell the university story. It lays out our key attributes and how those attributes become benefits for our audiences. In short, it explains the value of what we offer.

  • What the message map is:

    • An internal tool to help South Carolina communicators develop both written and verbal content
    • A way to capture the bigger ideas that we need to communicate
    • A flexible framework that is meant to grow with the brand and flex to its various extensions and entities

    What the message map isn't:

    • The exact words we use in our communications (but the words can be used)
    • An external-facing communications piece
  • Message Map

  

Understanding the Message Map 

At the center of the map is our core value proposition: what we offer and why it matters. The top half of the message map lays out the attributes that collectively make up what we offer. The bottom half demonstrates the benefits that flow from those attributes. Each attribute connects to the benefit below it. 

  • core value proposition within the message map
     

 

Core Value Proposition

All of our messaging — from social media posts and digital boards to brochures, e-newsletters and long-form stories — should align with and support the university's core value proposition.

  • core values within the message map
     

  

Attributes: "The What"

Our attributes are “the what” of our core value proposition. They encapsulate the unique essence of what we offer.

  • Attributes within the message map
     

  

Benefits: "The Why"

Our benefits are “the why” of our core value proposition. They encapsulate the benefits of what we offer: in essence, why what we offer matters.

  • benefits within the message map
     

  

Pillars

Read the message map from top to bottom, with each attribute (top) aligning with its corresponding benefit (bottom). Our mission — creating innovative models of learning and research — is the first of our three key attributes, or pillars.

  • pillars within the message map
     

 

Pillar 1: Academic and Research Excellence

Pillar 1 emphasizes our goal of academic and research excellence. Starting from the upper left column, this attribute/benefit relationship can be paraphrased as: UofSC creates innovative models of research and learning so that we can develop critical thinkers who create knowledge to drive innovation and positive change.

  • Our Mission pillar within the message map
     

 

Pillar 2: Superior Student Experience

Our approach — a welcoming and intellectually stimulating student experience — is the second of our three key attributes, or pillars. Starting from the top of the middle column, this attribute/benefit relationship can be paraphrased as: UofSC offers a welcoming and intellectually stimulating student experience so that our graduates become part of a lifelong family bound by fierce loyalty to those who came before and those who follow.

  • Our Approach pillar within the message map  the message map
     

  

Pillar 3: Economic and Social Impact

Our mission — driving entrepreneurship and visionary leadership in order to positively impact South Carolina — speaks to our economic and social leadership and is the third of our three key attributes, or pillars. Starting from the top right column, this attribute/benefit relationship can be paraphrased as: UofSC drives entrepreneurship and visionary leadership in the thriving capital city so that the university can serve as an economic and social engine for our city, state and beyond.

  • Our Aim pillar within the message map
     

 

Make It Your Own

As a whole, the message map [pdf] lays out our core value proposition, attributes and benefits that support that proposition, and supporting points that validate our attributes and benefits. As you develop messages, think about how the stories in your own area support our core value proposition, serving to validate the key attributes of the university and the benefits of those attributes to our audiences.

  • Our Aim pillar within the message map
     

 

 

 


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