Murray State rebranding, affording a new look

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Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

Murray State recently launched a rebranding campaign as part of a larger marketing plan that will continue through 2022 as it looks forward to celebrating 100 years since its founding.

“We desperately needed a rebranding and we needed the whole portfolio redone to reflect the current Murray State University,” said Joy Humphreys, department chairwoman and associate professor of management, marketing and business administration. “We needed a comprehensive, congruous, well-researched package for our MSU brand that would last and would help bring positive attention to MSU.”

Adrienne King, vice president of university advancement, was hired last summer with the charge to create a new marketing initiative, but this will be her fifth rebrand.

Initial surveys and research began before King was hired, but planning started Sept. 1 of last year and lasted ten months, King said.

Murray State’s new tagline is “Opportunity Afforded.” King said this phrase enables the marketing team to use students’ personal stories about the opportunities Murray State affords to them.

“We don’t want to be the story,” King said. “We want to be the platform through which your story is told.”

Humphreys said she likes the slogan “Opportunity Afforded” because it invokes a past tense connotation.

“The new tagline says to me, ‘I’ve graduated from MSU and taken advantage of an awesome opportunity, and I’ve just opened many doors for myself that would have otherwise been closed,’” Humphreys said. “And I did it without being a bazillion dollars in debt. Bring it on.’”

Charley Allen, web manager of branding, market ing and communication, said she worked with Melissa Shown, graphic designer of branding, marketing and communication, to create the new wordmark.

The Murray State shield was redesigned to incorporate a more traditional design, with a modern take, Allen said.  

She said the previous shield had a lot of stars and big curves, so the new shield is clean and simple.

King said the new shield design works on many different platforms and embraces the history and heritage of Murray State.

There is a budget allocated for the rebrand process for things such as advertising and billboards. King said in preparation for the rebrand the university did not place orders for campus signage and campus banners in advance. These banners are replaced every year, so the new design did not place an additional cost on the university. 

Murray State is using a soft roll out, instead of an immediate roll-over. The transition is estimated to take two years, as business cards, letterheads and other supplies run out or need to be replaced.

King said these marketing initiatives are scheduled to happen, not because of the rebrand effort or education budget cuts, but because the university needed to take a more aggressive approach to marketing.

Murray State did not use external resources for the rebrand, but instead worked with the Office of Branding and Marketing, King, her staff and roughly 15 interns to create a brand with the goals of the university in mind, while still being budget conscience. 

“We need to get out of the mindset of being a hidden gem and put out the great things that our students, faculty and staff are doing here so students who will benefit from a Murray State education will know what is happening here,” King said.