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Brand essence

Successful brands connect solidly with an organization’s mission and vision thereby ensuring that communications are authentic and true. Accordingly, the core concept of our brand — the brand essence — directly expresses our strategic vision to be the national model for the engaged university.

As established by Gallup research, the direct benefit of an experience as highly engaged as the Madison Experience is that graduates go on to lead purposeful lives. This is the promise we make to students and their families. So all branded communications should seek to compellingly portray the essence of this promise.


Essential offering

Our vision is to be the national model for the engaged university: engaged with ideas and the world. This vision signifies the foundation of our brand: Intellect + Action.

When Intellect engages with Action around our mission of preparing students to be enlightened citizens and to lead meaningful lives, it catalyzes the essence our brand: Being the Change. Being the Change is the rallying cry at the heart of the JMU educational experience and the common bond among our students, alumni, faculty and all members of our exceptional community.


We provide students with professional knowledge, disciplinary breadth, deep scholarship, critical thinking, interpersonal and communications skills, and cultural insight in order to advance our global society.



We challenge and support students to advance discoveries, sharpen their expertise, explore new worlds, challenge the status quo and collaborate inventively in order to fulfill their talents and improve their communities.



We inspire students to unleash their intellect and action into passionate commitment, civil discourse, ethical leadership, mutual teamwork and civic involvement in order to live purposefully and effect meaningful change.


Elevator pitch

If you had only the time it takes to ride in an elevator to tell someone why JMU is unique and superior, say something like this:

"JMU does very well in rankings: the Wall Street Journal ranked JMU as the nation’s “most recommended university;” US Department of Education data put JMU as Virginia’s number one university for getting a job. But the ranking that matters the most is from Gallup. JMU alumni live purposeful and meaningful lives at a significantly higher rate than their peers who graduated from the top 100 colleges and universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report. This is according to conclusive Gallup research. Because our faculty and staff care about students as people more so than at most schools. Gallup research affirms that this is the number one factor leading to alumni leading purposeful lives. And people living purposeful lives lead society toward a more promising future. They’re out there every day Being the Change."

Personality & voice

While we want to project a consistent set of university personality traits in our communications, we also want to employ different tones of voice to cultivate and strengthen our relationships with our various audiences.

JMU’s personality guides our tone of voice and authentically reflects our core values. Our personality traits also signify how we consistently behave in our relationships with students, alumni, donors and other audiences.


Voice for prospective students & families

Puncturing the awareness and capturing the interest of prospective students is the number one objective of the JMU brand. Speaking to these hopeful members of our community in a tone that matches their aspirations for themselves is essential.


Voice for alumni & friends

Our successful and growing base of alumni and friends is evidence of JMU’s importance. Their involvement is essential to the university’s success, and communications aimed at elevating their school pride and maintaining their interest ought to be delivered in a tone that inspires them to action.

voice alumni

Voice for current students

To succeed in achieving our vision to be the national model for the engaged university, current students must believe that fully engaging in the Madison Experience is worth their time. Departments from all across campus can succeed in attracting students to their programming by communicating in a tone of voice that tunes into and elevates their aspirations.


Message drivers

JMU possesses a distinct set of organizational features that set us apart from other schools. In the aggregate, these features are what make JMU unique and they ought to drive messaging to external audiences. Compellingly depicting them in communications is how we can differentiate JMU from other universities, especially in communications targeting prospective students and their families. They also are important and real manifestations of our vision and strategic direction to depict in communications targeting all audiences.

With our brand essence forming their foundation, message drivers build a sturdy scaffolding and platform from which our brand expressions are sourced. When we proclaim from this platform that the institution is fully dedicated to inspiring its community to Being the Change, we can do so confidently and authentically.


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