“Why-How-What” Strategy


Developed from research conducted by the Integrated Marketing and Strategic Communication (IMSC) Committee, the “Why-How-What” Strategy is your main tool for promoting your unit in a manner reflective of the UNCG brand. The following information explains this strategy while Brand Standards training and unit strategy sessions address how to customize this approach for your specific materials.

Consider these three rules of thumb:

• Understand the definition of “Why,” “How” and “What” messages, each of which are outlined in the following section.

• Lead with “Why” and “How” messaging and follow with “What” messaging as support (as outlined below). While most colleges and universities tend to lead with their points of pride, UNCG will use a differentiating strategy, placing the emphasis on our Do something bigger altogether call to action (“Why”) and our approach to learning that brings learning to life (“How”). Once headlines and introductory copy have pulled in your audiences, then you can address key features (“What”). This approach will distinguish your piece from the scores of colleges and universities who focus solely on what they do rather than why or how they do it.

• Emphasize your audiences’ needs and goals by making sure words and images are end-user focused. Marketing and communication is about having a conversation with your audience with the goal of building a relationship over time. Use copy and photography to make a connection between your audience’s needs and desires and how UNCG can uniquely fulfill them.


The Definition of “Why”
The UNCG experience engages people in the call to Do something bigger altogether. As a university community, we perpetuate this call to action, and so should our marketing and communication.

What does it mean to Do something bigger altogether? While there are all kinds of examples across campus, focus groups and surveys with UNCG’s core audiences revealed this unifying belief: Our university provides a better opportunity for students to make a meaningful contribution through their understanding and engagement of the world. People come to UNCG with a desire to do more, not only with their own lives, but for others. In turn, our campus community fosters confidence and the ability to create one’s own definition of success around this desire.

The Application of “Why”
Think about how your piece could prioritize why UNCG (and your unit) does what it does. The short answer is to Do something bigger altogether. Strategically place the tagline to summarize this call to action. Use evocative black and white photography as your main image(s). In addition, use your front cover, headlines, subheads and introductory copy to carry prominent messages that get your audience thinking about the call to action and what Do something bigger altogether means for your unit.

For additional tips on crafting your copy around “Why” messaging, visit Copywriting. You may also find helpful information from some of the IMSC outcomes listed on the right such as the UNCG Brand Personality, the UNCG Elevator Speech and the UNCG Brand Chart.


The Definition of “How”
At UNCG, we offer an approach that brings learning to life for our students. Academic excellence is expected. That’s precisely why we hire top faculty and invest in quality programs and a campus environment that students repeatedly tell us is an engaging place to learn. But our faculty and staff go a step further; they connect theory and practice to create a transformational experience in which knowledge and its meaningful application are emphasized. This supportive, engaging environment is a culture at UNCG, and one worthy of promoting.

The Application of  “How”
To emphasize how UNCG brings learning to life, consider our special strength: Research and focus groups consistently described how the UNCG learning experience prepared them for the many challenges and opportunities of life after college. Think about excellent faculty members who bring innovation to the classroom and who serve as mentors outside of class. Think about living-learning communities that bring together students, faculty and staff living, working and learning collaboratively. Research opportunities for students, even at the undergraduate level. Service-learning, collaborative engagement with the community, study abroad and cross-disciplinary studies — all on a diverse and inclusive campus.

Programs offering academic excellence in teaching, research and creative activityIn addition, living-learning communities extend the learning experience to the residence halls by bringing together students, faculty and staff living, working and learning collaboratively
Basic research contributing to creativity and discoveryIn addition, undergraduate and graduate students partner with faculty on translational research, service-learning and community engagement projects
Students feeling at homeIn addition, students are immersed in a diverse and inclusive campus where they interact with different kinds of people who offer different perspectives


The Definition of “What”
The key features that exemplify UNCG’s approach to learning involve a unique combination of the following:

• challenging academic programs,

• a supportive environment that fosters academic growth and a clear path to goals, and

• an engaged community with connections and collaborations on and off campus.

Our students find the opportunity to excel academically while becoming a part of a campus community that offers the support they need along with a heightened level of engagement and connections on and off campus. The integration of these features forms the kind of learning experience that motivates students to choose our university over many others. UNCG is where they can find everything they are looking for — including themselves.

The Application of “What”
“What” messages may include program information, rankings, points of pride, statistics and more. As you select these messages, make sure they demonstrate our three features – challenging academic programs, a supportive environment and an engaged community. Otherwise, there will be too many non-differentiating “What” messages, and we’ll be back to square one: looking and sounding like everyone else.