Brand Positioning

Beginning in Fall 2018 and concluding in Spring 2020, the Dean’s Office at BU Wheelock worked with the branding firm Axe + Tiller to develop brand positioning for our new college.

This work happened in parallel with much of the important strategic identity-building in which our college has been engaged. In the course of developing BU Wheelock’s brand positioning, Axe + Tiller founder Ryan Wilson attended guide-star sessions, faculty retreats, conducted an extensive competitive review of our peer-aspirant institutions, and interviewed an array of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders about the work we do.

The outcome of Ryan’s work is a brand positioning statement that will inform how we talk about ourselves and our work when communicating to key audiences. It’s a messaging framework that we can adapt to speak compellingly to prospective students, future faculty, and community partners. If the vision, values, mission, and guide-star we have worked together to develop function to help us understand ourselves, the brand positioning Ryan has created is what will help others to understand BU Wheelock’s potential to become a leading college of education and human development.

Outcomes & Deliverables

Our work with Axe + Tiller concluded with a presentation of the brand positioning statement to faculty and staff. You can watch a recording of that presentation or view the deck Ryan used. We’ve also captured the “chat” from that session, which featured some constructive ideas and which you can view in the expandable section below.

Brand Positioning Presentation Zoom Chat Text

Before we reached the point of “public” unveiling, Ryan delivered a comprehensive presentation of his findings to members of Wheelock and BU MarCom leadership. That presentation, which you can download and view here, breaks down how Ryan used input from our community to build a brand positioning statement that fits who we are.

And, before diving into our own community, Axe + Tiller assembled a portrait of the competitive landscape within which we sit, providing us with a detailed assessment of how our peer-aspirant institutions present themselves to the world. You can download and view Ryan’s individual peer school analysis and assessment of competitive themes.

Moving Forward

The next steps in this process will take over the summer and fall months. BU Wheelock MarCom will work to adapt messaging on existing communications channels, including our social media and website, to reflect our new brand positioning. We’ll also develop new pieces designed to bring this message to specific audiences, with a focus on reaching peer colleges and prospective students.

Our advice to staff and faculty who want to help support our new positioning is to keep doing what you’ve always been doing. The work you do in classrooms, with community partners, and in collaboration with our students is foundational to the positioning Ryan has created. Because this message was created with our community’s goals, aspirations, and current areas of focus in mind, you don’t need to force any real change in your messaging.

But, we do encourage you to keep this positioning in mind. Much like our guide-star and the other elements of our college’s multi-faceted strategic planning process, our brand positioning (and the findings from the research that went into it) can help guide how you talk about our programs and community in the context of our broader professional and academic fields.