University of Wisconsin–Madison

Brand Rationale

The Brand Rationale, Boundless Together, guides brand development and execution, sets a baseline tone, and becomes the springboard for the expression of the entire brand. This is not meant to be used in copy or as 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.

We are Boundless Together.

At UW–Madison, we see the impossible as an exciting dare to do what nobody else can. Because together, we are a catalyst for creation. We can transform a snow-blanketed campus into a hotbed of creativity and passion. Our spirit of adventure has inspired astronauts and space cowboys. And that same spirit turned the Statue of Liberty into the Lady of the Lake. Our feet are firmly planted as we explore our infinite potential. And we see a challenge as our chance to tilt the world on its axis. That’s what drives us forward in the lab, on the field, and one-on-one. And while a little healthy tension helps us defy limits and expectations, when we celebrate what binds us together, we can change the very definition of possible.

We are Boundless Together.

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

UW–Madison is a haven for visionaries who see the world differently. We fearlessly sift and winnow to find today’s truths. And we are unabashedly unique. Situated on a narrow isthmus and seamlessly coalesced with the city, UW–Madison’s campus is like no other place on earth. If you’ve ever watched the sun set over the shores of Lake Mendota or felt the earth shake as more than 80,000 Badger fans “Jump Around” at Camp Randall, you already know what we mean. We provide world-class education, but we’re careful about taking ourselves too seriously. We do groundbreaking research, yet we always stay grounded. We’re tenacious intellectuals, but we always remain kind and approachable. We’re a sizable university, yet we consider ourselves a tightknit family. These dichotomies define UW–Madison. They allow us to stay centered on the edge of it all.

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.

FULLY CHARGED ENGINE

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.

UNPARALLELED MAGNETISM

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
Red and white banners featuring the iconic W and the phrase All Ways Forward adorn the exterior of Bascom Hall on a fall day at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Oct. 15, 2015. The banners are part of a new comprehensive fundraising campaign. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

CITIZENS OF SUBSTANCE

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.

MISSION-DRIVEN CULTURE

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.