There are multiple levels to storytelling and marketing at the University of Northern Iowa. These guidelines provide an overview that supports the overarching UNI positioning and messaging.
As you develop materials for individual units, programs and services, here are some tips to help everyone stay on brand.
Write in a positive, engaging voice that honestly reflects the UNI personality. Tone can vary, but writing should be stripped of pretense and jargon. The goal is always to connect with readers.
Avoid higher-ed jargon, bureaucratic language and acronym-heavy prose. Our writing should be inclusive and easy for a general audience to grasp.
Less is more. Use direct language and keep your message brief and succinct.
Take readers on a journey. Provide emotional, factual and historical context. Show readers how your story fits with social and news trends. Focus on what’s unique, fascinating or unusual about the story you’re trying to tell.
Avoid platitudes and generalizations. Create compelling sentences with substance and facts that meet the needs of your audience.
Write in a “people-first” way that’s authentic and understanding. Lean toward usage of first- and second-person pronouns like “you, we, us.” Use contractions like “we’re, you’re” that are more direct and relatable.
Examples of Good Writing
Writing Examples that Reflect General Guidelines:
NOT IDEAL: We are implementing a course of action effectuating a temporary cessation of campus activities as we work to synergize internal and external proposals on health protocols.
BETTER: We are temporarily closing campus while we work to find solutions to safely reopen.
NOT IDEAL: At this point in time, UNI is facing myriad challenges throughout the landscape of higher education similar to that which many other institutions have been experiencing.
BETTER: UNI is facing challenges that are not unique in higher education.
NOT IDEAL: UNI has one of the better business programs in the region.
BETTER: UNI is one of fewer than five percent of business schools worldwide accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
Writing Examples that Reflect Personality:
Message for students and prospective students
NOT IDEAL: UNI can help you achieve your goals.
BETTER: You have a bold idea and a vision for the future. We have the tools and expertise to make it a reality. Together, we can do amazing things.
Message for external (donors and partners)
NOT IDEAL: UNI’s Tallgrass Prairie Center is working to restore native prairie vegetation around the state.
BETTER: We’re establishing a more sustainable future for Iowans, one acre of prairie at a time.
For students and prospective students
NOT IDEAL: UNI is an affordable place to get an education.
BETTER: We know that getting an education shouldn’t break the bank; that’s why we focus on keeping tuition affordable, while you focus on changing the world.
A Brand Writing Checklist
- Is the spirit of "achieve beyond" within how you tell your story?
- Does your focus connect back to one or more of the four supporting messages?
- Are you drawing upon brand strengths, attributes and values that strengthen your story?
- Does your writing reflect the UNI personality?
- Is your content and tone adjusted to fit the motivation of your audience?
- Are you using facts and proof points to support your story?
- Is your writing clear, concise, direct, interesting?