Personality & Tone

Who we are and how we sound in telling our story also must remain faithful to our brand. Our brand personality provides a framework, while voice and tone make it real.  

Use a positive, engaging voice that embodies UNI. The overall tone will change depending on your audience, circumstances and platform, but should always incorporate a consistent voice that expresses the UNI personality. For example, the tone used when addressing prospective donors will be different than when speaking to prospective students.

Brand personality refers to human characteristics associated with a brand. They're expressed as adjectives that describe "UNI as a person." Brand voice is how we convey those characteristics and emotion through the things we say and how we say them.


We are welcoming.
We are genuine.
We are engaging.
We are empowering.
We are determined.
We are enterprising.





Welcoming (compassionate, inclusive, supportive)

We are open, approachable. We celebrate differences — in perspectives, backgrounds and dreams. With compassion, we’re committed to creating a sense of community for all.

We are not: exclusive, aloof, detached


Genuine (authentic, proud, down-to-earth)

We are uniquely us. Down-to-earth, yet bold. Unpretentious, but proud. Sincere but honest, even when the truth hurts. There are no illusions here. Only authenticity.

We are not: pretentious, arrogant, insincere


Engaging (active, connected, collaborative)

We aren’t on the sidelines. We actively collaborate and connect, from classrooms to the community. We turn theory into practice, creating new experiences and fresh ideas.

We are not: passive, uninspired, flat


Empowering (confidence-building, transformative, uplifting)

We launch the discovery and exploration that propels us to new heights. We encourage. Fuel ideas. Inspire dreams. Motivate change. Spur action.

We are not: negative, dull, unambitious


Determined (passionate, tenacious, evolving)

We never give up. We never settle. We push ourselves to reach new heights. Driven by our passion to reshape, transform and reinvent what we know, our work is never done.

We are not: complacent, predictable


Enterprising (prepared, resourceful, future-focused)

We find solutions, not excuses. We lead during uncertainty, unafraid to stray off the beaten path. We mix heart with hustle. We’re practical, but ambitious. We adapt, partner, grow. We’re ready.

We are not: afraid, unimaginative


While students are our focus, our university community comprises multiple audiences and subgroups. While staying “on brand,” messages must resonate — in content and tone — with what motivates each of these groups to choose and support the University of Northern Iowa. 


Prospective students
Parents of prospective students
Counselors and advisers/influencers
Prospective funders
Prospective employees

Internal Community

Current students
Current employees 

Alumni, Donors & Fans

Donors (individuals, corporate, foundations) 
Parents/guardians of current students

Partners & Employers

Local partners (city, business, schools, organizations) 
Federal and state lawmakers 
Community members

If we speak to everyone, we speak to no one.

Audiences care about UNI for many of the same reasons, but often from different perspectives. Before developing content, we should identify the needs of the audience we’re hoping to target. What are their interests? What motivates them? What helps reach their (and therefore our) specific goal?


Prospective students -- traditional/in-state first year

  • “I want to enroll in a quality academic program.”
  • “I want to know I’ll be safe during campus activities.”
  • “I want to learn in an environment where I have the direct support of my professors.”
  • “I want to attend a university that promises high employment and job placement rates.”
  • “I want to complete my academic experience with minimal debt.”
  • “I want to attend a university with reputable academic rankings.”
  • “I want to attend a university with graduation rates that ensure I will complete my degree in a timely manner.”
  • “I want to attend a university with a strong regional reputation.”
  • “I want to participate in a culture that aligns with my personal interests and passions.”