Positioning and Messaging

What is positioning?

Positioning is how we need to be thought of in the minds of our most important audiences in order to be successful. Positioning should be a differentiated, motivational, and sustainable thought. It is not just our definition (a public research and teaching university) or how we express it (taglines, messages, etc.), but it should serve as the conceptual core for all that we say and do. It’s about what we want people to feel when they experience Berkeley, and remember when they walk away. Berkeley’s positioning is built upon the attributes and themes on the following pages.

Positioning statement

UC Berkeley reimagines the world by challenging convention to shape the future

Berkeley fuels a perpetual renaissance, generating unparalleled intellectual, economic, and social value. We integrate research with teaching, the artistic with the scientific, the scholarly with the athletic, and the up-and-comer with the advantaged. Our diverse and kinetic community draws inspiration from every discipline, sparks dynamic interactions and produces revelations about the world we aspire to live in. With the drive to ask critical questions and embrace new challenges, we are redefining ourselves and the role of a university in a changing world.

How positioning applies

If every message comes from the same conceptual core and connects to its intended audience in relevant ways, it will reflect an institution whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Guidance for individual colleges, schools and departments:

  1. Demonstrate through communications how your college, school, or department is reimagining the world.
  2. Demonstrate how you challenge conventional thinking to shape the future.
  3. Be bold and unapologetic.
  4. Consider the key themes that best connect with your key audiences.
  5. Support your messages with facts rather than leading with facts.

Our creative platform

The creative platform is an emotional translation of the positioning — condensing all of its important points into a phrase with personality. This is not a tagline or a headline but a starting point to inspire the look, feel and tone of communications.

Reach Further

“Reach Further” is comparative. Lots of universities have “reach.” Only Berkeley has the depth of talent, diversity of skills and deep-seated drive to do things that continually change the world. We reach further. When we “reach further” than others, we must constantly reimagine what’s possible — and go beyond what anyone else has done before. That means we have to have attitude: impatience that comes with a willingness to challenge convention. The combination of those qualities is how we shape the future — which is more than evident in the results, successes and breakthroughs constantly occurring on our campus and throughout our alumni community

How to use it

  • To gut-check voice: Does the tone of what you’re writing capture the spirit of “Reach Further”? Does it sound like the personality of someone who embodies the idea?
  • To stay on message: Move beyond facts whenever possible. By addressing the motivation behind our successes, we can create a more emotional tie with the audience.

Our key strengths

Conviction / Excellence / Scale / Diversity

These are four key strengths that differentiate Berkeley from other universities. If each communication message we develop leverages one or more of these strengths, our creative platform will come to life with depth, breadth and longevity. Remember, “Reach Further” is not a tag line; it’s the theme upon which to build your stories. 

As communicators, we must choose which stories to elevate and which ones to leave at the water cooler. The following are filters that you can use when you choose stories whose collective impact is showcasing the myriad ways in which Berkeley is “reaching further”

You can reach further with conviction. Connect your message to an unwavering belief, cause, or higher calling.

You can reach further with excellence. Share stories about individual or collective achievements that outshine anything attempted before.

You can reach further with scale. Demonstrate the impact of Berkeley’s efforts to improve the world around us or change an individual’s life in an extraordinary way.

You can reach further with diversity. Show the unique ways in which Berkeley connects disciplines, projects and people to create new paradigms that can transform the world.

Tone and personality

Curious / Intense / Optimistic / Influential / Socially conscious / Independent / Real / Open

While our strengths help guide content choices, our tone creates consistency in how that content is delivered. Keep these words in mind when creating communications to maintain a distinct tone of voice and ensure the Berkeley personality shines through. 

Use 2 or 3 of these tones in each communication, depending on the message content and the audience. E.g. a news article on social entrepreneurship from the Berkeley Haas School of Business may use an influential, independent and socially conscious tone, while a direct mailer to prospective students from the Office of Undergraduate Admissions may be curious and intense.