Editorial Resources

The voice of the university

For a brand to become successful and enduring, it needs to focus not only on what it says, but also on how it says it. The brand needs to be expressed through a style of writing — a tone — that is most appropriate for its audience. What differentiates a successful brand from others is a distinctive voice that connects in a personal way.

Our brand pillars and key messaging

You can use the pillars of the University of Michigan brand (academic prestige, public ethos and history, tradition & culture) as a framework for your key messaging. For the latest U-M statistics and rankings to support your key points, you can use the Michigan Almanac as a resource.

While the brand pillars are a good jumping-off point, content creators and editors university-wide should be thinking about how to illustrate these ideas with real-world examples. For example, instead of stating “We are home to world-class faculty and students,” think about featuring a faculty member who just won an award for a research breakthrough, with a short explanation of the findings. As communicators, the goal is to always be thinking about how to express the results and outcomes (impact) of these pillars in an authentic way.

Developing U-M’s voice in your communications

One of the best ways to ensure you’re representing the university’s voice is, ironically, to take U-M out of it. It sounds counterintuitive — but compelling, branded content is often not UM-focused. Rather, it emphasizes outcomes of all the good work going on across campus. The voice should be prescriptive — that is, directly addressing the needs of the audience. Why should they care?

Too UM-Centric

  • Our faculty includes…
  • We are a world leader in… 
  • The University of Michigan has…

Prescriptive, Audience-Focused

  • You’ll enjoy all the benefits of…
  • You’re already thinking about what you can do…
  • Students will discover and be inspired…

Other useful guidelines to use include: