University of Montana
brings out a brand’s
A beautiful location, while great to have, is only part of the story. Anyone with a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains like UM can claim natural splendor as a benefit for students. To stand out from competitors, the Treasure State’s flagship university sought to explore different territory altogether. We needed to tell a story that foregrounded the brilliant people in Missoula and beyond and also illustrated the wow behind what happens every day on campus.
The situation called for a brand renaissance — not a complete ‘redo’ as much as a decisive step into a new era for the University of Montana’s name and reputation. Since enrollment growth also was top of mind for the institution’s leaders, the brand needed to connect with younger audiences and tell an inspiring, authentic story.
What we really needed as an institution was a story and a narrative that provided hope and healing for us."
Through virtual and in-person visits, University of Montana welcomed SimpsonScarborough into its world – and onto its team as partners. Our 4-day creative exploration of Missoula began with watching insects fight and getting lost in the campus library but soon reached down to the Missoula Chamber of Commerce, out to the region’s myriad hiking trails, and inevitably to a football tailgate the following weekend (Go Griz!). We soaked up every drop of culture to better inform the integrated teams of researchers, strategists, writers, designers, and digital thinkers that would support the campaign for months to come.
The team took the time to find out what this place is and who we are. There was a willingness to understand the environment we were working with, good and bad. It wasn’t about a marketing campaign. It was working within the psyche of the school.”
After a deep dive of surveying potential UM Students, the SimpsonScarborough team arrived at a critical insight to drive the campaign: that University of Montana is the spark point for global impact and bigger things. Developing the brand system began with a few big questions. If Montana is where people go to start fresh, how might we capture the tone of that spirit in official communications? If the University can tout more than its beautiful vistas, how might we orient the story around the treasures that our community brings to the world?
The first time I saw the concept, it scared me. The second time I saw it, I fell in love. And I watched as everyone at UMontana
went on that same journey.”
The adaption process was appreciated because our community felt like they could give feedback and have a tangible effect on what the end product would be. Internally, that was a huge win for everyone involved."