University of Oklahoma Issues Branding RFP

The University of Oklahoma seeks proposals from outstanding brand strategy and creative agencies to partner with the institution in the development of strategy and creative for the University’s strategic brand initiative, including:

·         Phase One: Discovery and Assessment

·         Phase Two: Develop Brand Strategic Framework



                                A. DEVELOPMENT & ALUMNI RELATIONS COMPREHENSIVE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN                                                              ACTIVATION

                                B. University-wide Activation

We are seeking two agencies to manage multiple phases of this initiative. The first agency will manage Phase One, Discovery and Assessment. The second will manage Phases III-V, from Development of Strategic Brand Framework to Activation of Creative Brand Concepts. Our goal is to complete all aspects by June 2020, with the first creative execution deliverable due August 1, 2020. We reserve the right to change our strategic brand initiative plan at any point in the process.


Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation.

The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center campuses offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa.

OU enrolls almost 32,000 students, has more than 2,800 full-time faculty members, and has 21 colleges offering 172 majors at the baccalaureate level, 156 majors at the master’s level, 81 doctoral-level majors and 54 graduate certificates.

OU’s seal depicting a farmer sowing seeds in a field and its Latin motto, Civi et Reipublicae, “For the benefit of the Citizen and the State,” reflect the university’s mission to provide the best possible educational experience for our students through excellence in teaching, research and creative activity, and service to the state and society.

Scope of Work:

PHASE ONE — FALL 2019 — Research and Discovery:

·         Conduct an overall project-planning meeting with the Strategic Brand Initiative Committee.

·         Development, facilitation and reporting of a qualitative research study that includes key stakeholders and audiences.

·         Conduct a comprehensive internal audit of the institution, including qualitative interviews (individual, triad or focus groups) with key OU constituencies.

·         Constituent and competitive set research to ensure external mindsets, drivers and perspectives are understood.

·         Quantitative research measuring current perception and recognition for the institution by alumni, donors, current students and their families, prospective students and their families, faculty and staff, patients and clients, business and opinion leaders, the media and general public of the state of Oklahoma and surrounding region.

·         Comprehensive summary of the research findings, including an analysis of the data collected in each component of the research process and the implications of the findings for the institution’s brand position, opportunity areas and key messages.

·         Develop and implement a detailed strategic brand identity audit and SWOT analysis assess the current OU brand’s alignment with research findings, the strategic plan and external marketplace assessment; assess marketplace positioning of potential branding and visual identity.

·         Interpret all collected data into actionable intelligence.

·         Conduct on-campus presentations to internal constituents outlining research findings and recommendations for messaging and branding.

·         Debrief with the agency that will conduct Phases Two—Five to bring their team to a thorough understanding of the insights that will inform the strategic brand framework.

PHASE TWO — FALL 2019—Positioning and Strategy:

·         This phase will include development of target audience, brand positioning, brand promise, personality attributes, overarching communications strategy. Based on research results and information gathered in the discovery phase of the project.

·         Upon completion of the Research and Discovery, a second agency will be tasked with bringing the research-based brand strategy to life by:

                                A. Develop a strategic brand framework for the university, based on the research findings, that includes (at minimum) a brand definition, positioning statement, brand promise and articulation of distinct brand personality and attributes. The strategy must be cohesive and adaptable across the many OU sub-brands (OUHSC, OU-Tulsa, Athletics, schools and colleges, etc.) and effectively communicate the functional/emotional benefits of OU for each of our target audiences.

                                B. Recommendations for visual identity changes should be made with consideration of the financial costs and organizational challenges inherent in doing so across a                                                     decentralized institution.

                                C. Prioritize target audiences and conduct an analysis of current versus the desired positioning.

                                D. Develop personas for each target audience/stakeholders group.

                                E. Develop the University of Oklahoma’s strategic brand framework (brand definition, brand promise, brand positioning statement, brand personality/attributes, core themes and messages, sub-brands, key messages and campaign manifesto).

                                F. Conduct on-campus presentations to internal constituents outlining recommendations for brand positioning and strategy.

                                G. Test and validate proposed brand strategy and key messages.

                                H. Presentation of findings and recommendations for a strategic brand framework. Presentation (in person) to the full Strategic Brand Initiative Committee.

PHASE THREE — SPRING 2020—Develop Creative Brand Concept:

·         Developing at least three brand concepts that will serve as potential directions for voice, look and feel of creative.

·         Presenting the three concepts (in-person) to the Strategic Brand Initiative committee.

·         Testing concepts with both heavily and lightly engaged key stakeholders including faculty, staff, students (current and perspective), alumni/donors, supporters/others.

·         Developing and presenting mock-ups based on brand concepts (video, print, social).

PHASE FOUR — SPRING/SUMMER 2020—Create Brand Guidelines, Toolkit and Rollout Strategy:

·         This phase is dedicated to developing the processes and tools to effectively rollout the brand platform across the entire University and its various constituents.

·         Develop presentation(s) for campus-wide rollout of marketing and branding initiative that will engage the campus community at important points in the process, gain support and buy-in, and create understanding of the process and value of consistent brand marketing as the foundation for a successful Comprehensive Capital Campaign. The audiences for presentations will include deans, fundraisers, communicators, faculty, staff, students and alumni.

·         Develop brand guidelines and creative toolkit to be used in training and posted online for easy access. This must include information about brand platform details and creative direction. The toolkit must be accessible and functional.

·         Plan campus rollout events for key stakeholders, including senior leaders and students.

·         Assist in planning and implementation of an internal and external brand training program and brand guidelines for employees and vendors.

PHASE FIVE — SUMMER/FALL 2020—Activate Brand Concept:

·         Specific execution material is required for University-wide branded rollout and Development and Alumni Relations to support the Comprehensive Capital Campaign.

·         Provide full-service marketing and creative support including development/production of television and radio spots, create print and online advertising and stakeholder direct response material.

·         The agency creative director/producer should demonstrate ability to provide variation in production output tailored to University of Oklahoma’s budget.

Due Date:

June 27th, 2019. 


Agencies with relevant experience include Kite Hill PR and Shift Communications.

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