Brand powers

The brand powers are the words that drive and shape our messages and the stories we tell.

They’re a memorable set of words that help us define and demonstrate what “power” means at the U of I. They’re also the anchors of our brand beliefs.

And guess what? All seven brand powers begin with the letter I.

The U of I-focused definitions we’ve created for each brand power include elements of the university’s mission, strategic plan goals and legacy story. (In other words, they aren’t just random words that begin with I.)


Think of the brand powers as the public-facing messages and stories that embody the brand.

Brand powers


Fostering new ways of thinking, educating, collaborating, creating and improving the world builds on our legacy and grounds our identity.


Extending a spirit of openness, access and equity brings more people and perspectives to the table, for the benefit of all.


Supporting and cultivating what makes each person unique serves as a catalyst to help individuals recognize and harness their power.


Encouraging engagement in a myriad of opportunities sparks personal and community growth, and builds on our legacy.


Honoring our land grant mission entails orienting our research, innovation, influence and resources toward making a difference in the world.


Breaking down barriers for interdisciplinary convergence fuels our leadership in groundbreaking discoveries and innovation.


Cultivating a community of openness, where ideas and knowledge are freely shared, instigates others, extending the realm of possibility.

There are three primary ways to use the brand powers:

Integrate the I-words into your marketing and communications efforts

Whether you’re creating digital ads for recruitment, an advancement campaign, headers for website landing pages, or a video script, these words will tie your content to the campus-wide brand in a powerful, memorable, consistent way.

Focus on specific I-words to tailor the U of I brand to your college or unit.

The brand powers offer opportunities for you to pull the levers on the UIUC brand, tailoring it to your college or unit. You may choose to incorporate all seven of the I-words into your copywriting and your messaging strategy, or you may focus on three
or four that particularly resonate with your mission and key audiences.

Use the words as a framework to help structure your messaging strategies.

Think of the words as buckets that will guide a more strategic approach to messaging, marketing, recruitment and development. (Keep an eye out for workshops and worksheets that will take you through this process!)

While you might get started by just experimenting with the first use outlined above, we hope you’ll eventually be rolling with all three.

There are just three key rules around brand powers:

  • In design applications, the brand powers were created to always be used with the Power of I brand message, not as a substitute or replacement. During this initial phase of establishing the brand, we also ask that you not use the brand powers to complete the phrase “Power of I” (ie: NO “The Power of Impact” at this time).
  • Although each unit doesn’t have to use all seven brand powers, you should try to regularly use at least three that resonate with your messaging and audience. The idea behind these words is that they help tell a more complete, balanced story that will ultimately engage more people.
  • Only these seven I-words made it through a rigorous selection process to become brand powers. Please do not take it upon yourself to get creative with other words that begin with I (although we do agree that there is power in ice cream).

Some examples of how and when to use the brand powers:

  • Strategic story selection and framing
  • Developing a social media strategy/calendar
  • Creating a recruitment or advancement campaign
  • Developing website organization and content
  • As advertising copy
  • To shape video concepts, a series of videos, and/or in video scripts
  • To accompany photoshoot direction (ie: illustrate these words)
  • As messaging in environmental designs