Throughout its history, the University of Idaho was viewed as the premier academic institution in the state. With a presence in every Idaho county, world-class research facilities, a faculty of acclaimed scholars, and a size that provided undergraduates distinctive learning opportunities, the University set the standard of excellence. In the years leading up to our brand creative engagement, however, things had changed. Instability in the University’s leadership caused internal anxiety. Morale was low. Public perception of its academic quality had slipped. And the success of Boise State University’s football program put the spotlight on that institution, which positioned itself as the state’s academic leader.

Our purpose in developing brand identity and creative was clear: to help Idaho get its swagger back. We engaged in extensive research with all audiences of the University community. We developed a brand platform focusing on expanding intellectual boundaries, enhancing passion and discovery, improving lives through scholarship, and creating heightened expectations. This led to the creation of a new institutional tagline: Open Range. Open Minds. We coupled this with an aggressive new recruiting campaign entitled: No Fences. With breathtaking, expansive environmental photography and an editorial voice that was smart, confident, and thought provoking, the new brand conveyed the personality that the University had somehow lost.

In short time, the new brand identity and campaign recharged the University. While Idaho’s enrollment had dipped nearly six percent in the year prior to the brand work, it climbed just under five percent to recover some of those losses the year after the new campaign was rolled out. The University rediscovered its confidence and attitude, and began to reclaim its position as the top academic institution in the state. And the creative won a bevy of local, regional, and national awards— including an APEX Grand Award, which was given to just 100 entries out of nearly 5,000 submissions from across the country.

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