Brand strategy

Our audiences

Effective marketing and branding require thinking first and foremost about audiences — who they are, what dreams they’re hoping to fulfill and what problems they’re trying to solve.

With our audiences as a foundation, we can then consider what we have to offer them. For most of the university, prospective and current students are the primary audience, so we’ve built this audience structure around that model. If your unit serves a different primary audience, you should rework the structure to reflect that.

Our primary audience


Students (prospective and current), guidance counselors, parents (prospective and current) patrons, corporations

Secondary audiences


Prospective and current faculty and staff


Alumni and donors


Illini fans (everywhere)

Opinion leaders

Peers, legislators, media, influencers who have a role in how U of I is perceived


Alumni and donors


What the hero’s journey looks like with prospective students as the target audience

Student as hero

With “tailored experience” as one of our brand pillars, and “empathetic” as one of our personality traits, we focus on students as the heroes of our brand story. That means our marketing is created in light of what our heroes are reaching for and hoping to accomplish.

University as guide

By positioning the university as a guide for people with dreams, needs and goals, we have the opportunity to become a critical part of their story. The underlying message is, “We know what you’re striving for, and we can help you get there.”

The marketing funnel

The people we’re trying to reach are in different places in their journey with the U of I. We take that into consideration as we communicate with them, using this marketing funnel as a guide. You’ll see examples of how we respond to these shifts in other parts of the guide.

The marketing funnel. Awareness, then knowledge, favorability, consideration, action, and internal audiences.