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University Branding Fit For The Millennial Generation

In November 5, 2014

I’m not part of the millennial generation. However, about 30 years ago, I chose which university I wanted to attend based on the same emotional need that drives so many millennial decisions today. I wanted to go someplace where individualism was encouraged and celebrated—a place where I wouldn’t feel like I’d need to conform to fit in. I wanted to go someplace where I felt like I could be myself. Back then, that place was Ohio University.

Nearly 3 decades later, I’m happy to report that the idea of “celebrating the individual” remains central to the Ohio University brand. And that’s really not surprising, because true brands don’t change from year to year, or even from decade to decade. Their essence remains constant. And, in this particular case, its essence could not be more appealing to the millennial generation—that segment of the population that is accustomed to user-experiences that are self-directed, highly customizable and tailored to suit their own individual taste.

So when we were called upon to promote the Ohio University MBA program to the millennial generation, staying true to this essence was critical. We wanted to appeal to those leaders of tomorrow who weren’t necessarily driven to jump into the ordinary corporate world. It was important to attract students who were passionate about forging their own paths, developing their own style, creating their own brand of leadership.

Here are two separate campaigns we recently created for the Ohio University MBA program. In both executions, we applied a fair amount of retouching magic to visually communicate that this program was for those wanting something more than ordinary. It’s for the trailblazers, mavericks, or more aptly put, bobcats.

OU Print Campaign

This approach communicates quickly that success in business doesn’t necessarily require a navy blue suit.


Ice cube tray outfitted with office furniture in each cube.

The millennial generation is not dreaming of a career spent in a cubicle. This concept ties into their emotional need to do things differently.

Rick Riley

Mom always said, “If you don’t have anything nice to blog, don’t blog anything at all.” Okay, that’s not true. In fact, mom never read a single blog, nice or otherwise. But it’s still good advice. So look to me for nice … or at least interesting, relevant or funny. Well, maybe smartass or irreverent or sarcastic, too. But that’s it. If it doesn’t fall into one of those categories, you didn’t hear it from me.