Brand Rationale

The Brand Rationale, You’re On, guides brand development and execution, sets a baseline tone, and becomes the springboard for the expression of the entire brand. This is not a tagline; rather, it’s an emotion that resonates throughout our work. Think of it less as a template and more as a litmus test for successful communication.

You’re On

To us, On Wisconsin means more than just moving things forward. It’s a call to arms. To take every challenge and run right over it. Plow through it. Propelling communities forward, supporting an entire state, and widening what’s possible for the world. A welcomed chance to turn adversity into opportunity. This is where rising to the challenge is our responsibility. On every front in every way imaginable, this place is ready to take it on. Because no issue is too big and no idea too small when you see the world as yours for the shaking.

You’re On

You’re On, Wisconsin

Positioning Statement

The Brand Positioning Statement helps guide our Brand Rationale and the development of the UW–Madison brand. Here again, this is not a tagline; it’s an emotional benchmark for how we convey the brand.

Centered on the Edge

They say life begins at the edge of your comfort zone, so we made our home there—our feet dangling off the ledge of what’s possible and our eyes on the horizon of what’s next. Where minds and opportunities meet, where risk is welcomed and there’s no such thing as too weird—generating a catalyst for not just the necessary but for the extraordinary. Because with a vantage point of tomorrow grounded on the verge of what’s now, we’re not just ready for change—we demand it.

Brand Pillars

UW­–Madison’s Brand Pillars are derived from the Brand Positioning Statement and further influence how we convey our brand.

These pillars not only form the backbone of UW–Madison; they’re also what make us unique. Every day, UW–Madison students, faculty, and staff embody these values through their teaching, learning, research, and service.

1) ENGINE FOR CHANGE

Our enterprise

We were founded with a purpose that has driven us since day one. We are dedicated to serving our fellow citizens to the best of our abilities. To this end, we consistently push ourselves forward, never satisfied with our success, and we are always recruiting new and brilliant minds to help make our collective future brighter.

2) UNPARALLELED MAGNETISM

Our location

There’s a vibe in the air here. Some call it “The Madison Miracle,” and we like that phrasing quite a bit. It explains how a cold, low-profile, largely rural midwestern state sustains one of the finest public universities in the nation. Our campus might get cold, but it’s still a hotbed for creative and intellectual activity year-round. We have developed an attitude of inspired goofiness that combines our love of work and play to create a place that is unlike anywhere else. You can’t fully explain it, but once you’ve experienced it for yourself, there’s no mistaking it.

Bascom Hall pillars and banner

3) CITIZENS OF SUBSTANCE

Our culture and community

We are a community of doers. We attract faculty members who make a difference for the better, and we attract students who seek to improve life for everyone. We passionately believe, by building an environment where people with different identities, cultures, and backgrounds can come together and address today’s issues, we can make the world a better place.

4) LIMITS REDEFINED

Our impact

The Wisconsin Idea is a cornerstone of our philosophy, and it’s been guiding us since day one. We believe our success can have an impact on our state, our country, and our world. We believe in discovery for discovery’s sake, and in never being complacent with the status quo. But most of all, we believe that we can make a difference in our world, starting here in Madison.

Tonal Words

The Brand Tonal Words help to convey UW–Madison’s Brand Pillars in a powerful, relatable way. Calling upon these words and noting how they relate to UW–Madison is a helpful step as we work together to align key messages.

We’re driven by discovery, and are always looking for what’s next rather than being satisfied with what has already been achieved.

We’re never pompous or unnecessarily elevated. We are welcoming and inclusive to all ideas and all people.

We have been doing things our own way for quite some time. Why stop now? Note, however, that unconventional does not mean unnecessarily frivolous or pointless. Our unconventionality always has a direction and point of view.

We are driven to make change. That means looking at problems from different angles and welcoming options that differ from our own, all with the aim of making strides toward a better future.

We are a land-grant university that was founded on a purpose. We do not communicate with fluff or unnecessary language. Our communication is always driven and deliberate.

We work tirelessly toward our goals, not stopping until we’ve reached them. And when we do finally reach them, we set our sights a little farther down the line. We are always pushing toward the future, because we know that is how we can make it brighter.

Every day, we work within our means and capabilities to achieve tangible success. Similarly, our tone should never sound too lofty or become separate from our concrete successes and goals.