I am often asked what the Lundquist College of Business (or, for that matter, the UO) brand stands for. It is a good and timely question—especially with the high profile the Lundquist College enjoyed this past weekend as the backdrop for ESPN Gameday. But getting the answer right is important but not easy. With this update, I want to share some of our early thinking on this issue and invite you to send me your suggestions and comments. Let’s start with what a brand is not. Many people, most of whom should know better, still think that a brand is a logo or an ad campaign and not much more. I recently talked to an executive who had led a rebranding effort for his company and was very proud of the visual images his team had created. But when it came to answering the question of how his new “brand” differentiated his company from his principal competitors in the eyes of his customers, his reply was vague.
To us, a brand signifies a promise of relevant benefits to our constituents. Our students seek an educational experience that broadens their thinking and prepares them for the competitive realities that await them. Faculty members value a collegial, engaging, research-focused work environment and bright, eager students to teach. Alumni and donors cherish the past and the future and make emotional and financial investments that clearly communicate this. There is no more profound a brand commitment than for an individual to recommend applicants to the college based on their own past experiences and their expectations for the future of the Lundquist College of Business. The common denominator is a commitment to a core set of values: quality in everything we do; a focus on students and learning; a collaborative, engaged, entrepreneurial work environment; and a respect for individual expression and differences. As you will appreciate, experiencing these attributes is one thing; capturing them in a simple graphic or tagline—if that is possible at all—is quite another.
A couple of years ago , the Lundquist College of Business engaged an external research agency to conduct focus groups with a broad range of stakeholders on the “branding” question. This research provided an understanding of the most salient dimensions of our “value proposition.” Specifically, it showed our circle of friends thought the college differentiated itself from other institutions in four key ways:
- Our values—welcoming, collaborative, engaged, entrepreneurial,
- Our educational philosophy—demanding, integrated, focused, with opportunities for hands-on experiences;
- Our context—being part of a comprehensive, research-intensive, Association of American Universities (AAU), global university
- Our focus—doing a few things really well as evidenced by our centers of excellence (the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center, the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship, the Center for Sustainable Business Practices, and the now Finance and Security Analysis Center).
Are we on the right track toward developing a unique value proposition for the UO Lundquist College of Business? I think so but would like more input. If today I had to provide a two sentence description of who we are as a college, it would read something like what follows:
As an integral part of the University of Oregon's position as an elite AAU research institution, the Lundquist College of Business offers a welcoming, inquisitive, and collaborative culture in an ideal college town. Our students obtain a world-class competitive advantage through a distinctive education that combines an integrated understanding of business's role in society with hands-on experiences applying knowledge in niche areas such as sports marketing, entrepreneurship, sustainable business, and securities analysis and corporate finance.
Let me know what the Lundquist College of Business means to you. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cornelis A. “Kees” de Kluyver, Dean
Rippey Distinguished Professor