How Do You Make a Clever Idea On-Brand?

As marketers, we can sometimes feel pressure to be creative and drum up clever ideas. These days, clever ideas from brands are all around us—on our social media and on our chip bag. When we look at the higher-ed landscape, we can feel compelled to play or borrow creative tactics that work for our competitors. This is a good thing! We’re not a national brand like Nike or Pepsi or M&Ms; we don’t necessarily need to be on the frontline of cute and clever across billboards, Super Bowl commercials, or glossy ads.

When a cute or clever idea catches your eye, ask yourself: Does it make sense for Michigan Tech’s brand—and how?

A Brand Exercise

This admissions letter recently made it’s way around staff. Many of us loved it. It’s genius, really—we already know Huskies don’t want to hear marketing fluff like “advanced programs” or “excellent experiential learning opportunities.” Then we editorial writers got to thinking. How can this concept—an attitude really—work for our prospective materials?


How Do You Make it Michigan Tech?

First, because we’re Michigan Tech, we wanted data. What do prospective students think of this idea? How did it feel? Did it prompt action?

Then we thought, hmmm. The ‘blah, blah, blah’ concept makes for a compelling email subject line. (Sometimes it makes sense to borrow just part of an idea.)

We wondered where our differentiators belong here? Our placement rate, our starting salaries, our undergraduate research hours—there are things neither cute nor clever that set us apart.

Then we put pen to paper and thought: If this letter came from Michigan Tech, here’s how it COULD sound. Blunt. Staccato. On-brand. Us!

Example One

Bla. Bla. Bla.

We’re not going to bore you with the stuff your parents want to hear. Let’s cut straight to it.

Michigan Tech is a hard school for crazy smart students. Maybe you have what it takes.

We’re strong on STEM. Be prepared to do the math. We’re passionate about research. You’ll be in the labs—and in the field—from the get-go. We push you to create the future, with Enterprise groups that work with corporate partners and researchers to bring products to market.

Our wild environment (waterfront campus, 5,000+ acres of research and recreational forests) is part of the experience.

P.S. Bring a snow shovel. And wait ’til you see what we do with brooms and duct tape.

Another Exploration

You won’t see Michigan Technological University on billboards. You won’t see us in glossy brochures. Heck, you may not even read all of this letter. So let us just tell you right away about real students doing #crazysmart things up here (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula—it’s not even on every map!):

Meet Sarah. As a first-year biomedical engineering student, she’s 3-D printing prosthetic hands. These hands are made from recycled plastic water bottles and will soon be shipped to children in Nicaragua.

Here’s Brad. While he attends Michigan Tech, he’s also working part-time for Handshake, a Silicon Valley-based startup (the founders are alumni!)

Find out more experiences and opportunities on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. 

PS—Bring a snow shovel. We get 218 inches a year!

Be Creative. But Be On-Brand.

It’s so important we carve out time to honor our creative. It’s important we play with and explore and test new ideas, even when that means borrowing them. Maintain the thread of brand. Trendy, cute, and clever won’t last, but brand should.

–Shannon Rinkinen
Brand Manager