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Brand Audit First Step Toward Developing UNC’s Marketing and Communications Plan 

July 12, 2022

In UNC’s Rowing, Not Drifting 2030  strategic plan, one of the key actions established in phase one was to develop and begin implementation of a research-based marketing and communications strategy. 

This past spring, working with UNC alumnus Cathy Lucas ’90 and her team at Lucas Narratives – Think Strategically, the university initiated a brand audit to better understand strengths and gaps, assess perceptions internally and externally, better define the brand, evaluate current communications and recommend strategies based on the findings. 

The survey reached out to nearly 18,000 community members with a statistically-sound 5.2% response rate. More than 31 percent of the respondents were alumni – the largest group to weigh in. Here’s what our alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community shared with Lucas Narratives through meetings, focus groups, in-depth interviews and survey responses:

1.       Respondents most often described UNC as a good value, warm and welcoming, and diverse and inclusive.   

2.       56% percent said UNC’s overall reputation is very good or good, and 74% were very familiar or moderately familiar with UNC’s brand.   

3.       69% said UNC was the state’s best educational value and ranked UNC as the most personalized educational experience in Colorado.  

Based on responses, the audit helped identify UNC’s brand essence as:  

    •  Sense of belonging 
    • Excellence in teaching
    • Engagement - students build faculty connections, have alumni mentors and enjoy opportunities for learning outside the classroom. 
    • Access – Students get more than access to a quality education, they have access to supportive faculty and staff who ensure students receive opportunities that transform their lives, their families and their communities.
    • A good return on investment – we empower students to maximize their potential for lifelong success.
    •  A supportive culture – our faculty and staff are personally invested in ensuring a quality experience for every student, and our small college feel provides a place for everyone who dreams of getting a college education.

Over the past few months, UNC has begun distilling the results, analysis and recommendations to develop core messaging and a comprehensive, strategic marketing and communications plan.  

“The strong results of the brand audit are directly related to outstanding alumni participation. I want to thank our Bear alumni for generously making time to share their perspectives,” said Debbie Farris, who joined UNC as the AVP of Marketing and Communications in January 2022.  

“The brand audit is invaluable as it serves as a marketing blueprint letting us know where the university is now and helping us map out where we want to go with our marketing and branding initiatives. My team immediately began incorporating insights from the audit into our enrollment marketing strategy as we developed digital and print campaigns to drive our recruitment efforts. The audit has been a game changer, giving us a fresh set of data that is informing our messaging platform and strategic marketing communications plan for UNC.”


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