What do you do when a large, well-known public university in the heart of one of the largest cities in the U.S. is having an identity crisis(?) or should I say “lack of identity” crisis? Temple University, the largest university in Philadelphia, with over 35,000 students, was eager to dial up a positive image and rally cry in its ongoing quest for growth and recognition among prospective students, their families, and potential donors.

The Marketing Executives Networking Group (MENG), and the local student chapter of the American Marketing Association invited Nicole Naumoff, Associate VP of Temple University Marketing and Communications, to speak to its members on February 18, 2013 on Temple’s Campus at the Fox School of Business and Management’s Alter Hall. Nicole led Temple’s rebranding campaign efforts that began in May 2012.

Temple University has many different audiences and stakeholders. All would need to embrace any new identity campaign. Perception and attitude research was conducted among alumni, current and prospective students and their families, college deans, trustees, and of course alumni. This research revealed only weak, although consistent, identity descriptors. “Big city school” and “Diversity” were two terms that bubbled to the surface consistently – along with “don’t know” – not very much to go on in the face of the strong identities of competing universities such as Penn State, University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University.

Nicole and her team took the neutral perception of “urban city school” and laddered that into the positive benefit of attending school in the “real world” – a unique proposition compared to popular Pennsylvania universities that may be set in suburban or rural settings. She also took the neutral perception of ‘diversity” and translated that into the aspirational value of “individuality” – further separating its student body from others that seem large but homogeneous. These aspirational terms set the foundation for what could become an identity filled with grit, determination and a uniquely Philly attitude.

The resulting campaign was named “Temple Made” with its longer slogan: “Self Made, Philly Made, Temple Made”. Created by the Neiman Agency in Philadelphia, the new advertising idea captured and capitalized the urban feel of Temple’s campus with a rich and vibrant texture. The earliest creative visuals came directly from student pictures and the faculty and staff, who put their colorful “game faces” on to start the football season. Finally, the campaign came together to deliver a terrific visual identity piece shown below.

The lessons coming from finding the “Temple Made” campaign idea apply broadly to institutions and non-profits of all sizes that look to strengthen their identity perception among diverse groups of stakeholders. This entire initiative had only a small budget compared to most universities. The power of the message is really the power of finding an insight and creating a unique brand position, with the result being a powerful campaign idea.


Here is the first TV ad that aired on Big East football games

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