Our Future is Bright
President Beverly Warren unveiled Kent State’s new brand on the first of February, during a celebration that started in the student center with storytelling and viewing the anthem video, then continued on Manchester Field with a bonfire, s’mores, giveaways and a group photo.
Here’s an excerpt of the president’s remarks and a peek at what you’ll be seeing in the months ahead as the university sets out to show the world what makes Kent State such a special community.
Photograph by Melissa Olson
The journey to creating a new Kent State brand began last year, when I traveled across the country to meet with alumni and friends and when I met internally with many of you here today.
As I asked them, and you within the Kent State community, to describe the “heart of Kent State,” I heard many common themes.
I learned firsthand about a strong sense of community, as many described Kent State as feeling like “home”—as a place where a strong support system welcomes you and pushes you to become more than you ever imagined was possible.
I learned of an appreciation for our commitment to teaching and learning and research and scholarship, where we are known for modeling an optimum balance of excellence in teaching, research and creativity—and for being home to outstanding scholars who are as likely to teach an introductory first-year course as they are to direct a doctoral seminar.
It was a universal belief that we should move from what many described as one of higher education’s best-kept secrets to being acknowledged as one of America’s best public research universities.
So we set out to achieve just that.
We committed to defining our Kent State brand more effectively through engagement with a national consulting firm, 160over90. Over the last twelve months, we have partnered with 160over90 to truly describe the heart of Kent State. Among the key takeaways from listening throughout my first year is that we must “Be Bold.”
As you recall from our discussions at the Forums for the Future, our brand is not a tagline, logo or glitzy website. Rather, it is what people think and feel when they hear the name “Kent State.” It is about the big idea. In essence, it is about defining and sharing the heart of Kent State.
And a brand must be authentic and compelling. It must tell the story of the Kent State we all know and love—where, as a student, you are accepted upon admittance, then urged to become an even better version of yourself. It highlights our students and faculty as agents of change, and it speaks to our welcoming atmosphere as a hard-working, inclusive community. But a brand also articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be—a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.
It sets the tone for our next chapter, one where we are proud to tell the world who we are in a bold and engaging way. And it gives us momentum to ask alumni and partners to give back to our university, to help us with our ambitious goal of increasing support for the talent that abounds here at Kent State and for attracting future talent to our community—new students, new faculty, new staff and new supporters who believe in our work that is focused on “bettering our society.”
“A brand articulates our aspirations and elevates us to where we want to be—a distinguished and thriving research university, full of remarkable scholars, students and staff.” —President Beverly Warren
Parts of the campaign will be rolling out over the next few months, starting with the new pole banners across all of our campuses and a video narrative that captures many of the reasons why we refer to Kent State as “home.”
That video resides on our website and is being used to craft 15 and 30 second feature ads for key parts of the country in both TV and digital formats. It tells our story, shares the heart of Kent State and explains what it means to be “undeniably Kent State.” It is our anthem—it is why we do what we do.
You will see phrases like “The future should prepare for you” and “Unknow your boundaries” and “Own the unknown”—because we are a community committed to making a difference.
We are running television ads in broader markets during the next few months as well as posting ads on billboards and in professional and trade journals.
We are on a mission to no longer be higher education’s best kept secret.
A strong brand is part of that. A strong brand attracts new students, faculty and staff to Kent State and helps us sustain the type of community that is welcoming, inclusive and on the rise to a bright tomorrow. It allows us to ask others for their support and donations, and it empowers us to continue setting the bar higher and higher.
I believe that our new vision statement and the impact of our campaign will serve as outstanding exemplars for expressing our institutional “why”—the desire to be a community that comes together to create new knowledge, meaningful change and purposeful graduates who make a difference in the world.
A strong brand is its people—a strong Kent State University brand is you.
Our Brand Message
- We are one of the largest university systems in the nation, but one of the closest families in the world.
- We welcome you with open arms but push you out with an open mind.
- We give you the strength to stand for what matters and take meaningful action for change.
- Our vastly different culture full of visionary ideas and ambitious people makes us undeniably Kent State.
You have already done so much in helping us create a thriving Kent State community—and now we need your help in telling our story to the world.
By adopting our new brand as your own, you become storytelling ambassadors for the university. A brand ambassador. Being a brand ambassador can be as easy as sharing our new anthem video on your social media channels or telling your students and the community about some of the things that make us undeniably Kent State.
Each of you has an “undeniably Kent State” story to tell. I encourage you to visit the campaign landing site (undeniable.kent.edu) and share those personal stories.
We are on a mission to realize our vision of becoming a distinguished university—one that many individuals across the globe will come to understand is a place where magical connections occur, where a sense of community remains important to all.
Let’s do this together. Let’s set our sights on an illuminated future.
When we say we are undeniably Kent State, let’s demonstrate what that means in everything we do!
“We are on a mission to no longer be higher education’s best kept secret.” —President Beverly Warren
Below watch a 30-second version of the anthem video, or visit the brand landing page at undeniable.kent.edu to view the full anthem video and read stories about the Kent State community.