NMU unveils new brand

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University rolled out its new “Fearless Minds” brand mid-July with a video and new website aimed at prospective students.

The landing page for new students can be found at www.nmu.edu/why. Featuring images by local photographer and NMU graduate Josh LeClair, stories from current students and graduates and plenty of facts about the university, the page is modern and easy to read.

But the landing page and video, while getting great reviews from students, is just the beginning.

“We’ve unveiled the tip of the iceberg,” said Steven Neiheisel, vice president for student enrollment.

The new brand is not only aimed at a traditional undergraduate students. Rather, the goal is to bring in those same students in higher numbers while also offering something of value for nontraditional and graduate-level students.

“It also broadens us to a geography outside of Michigan,” Neiheisel said. “One of the keys to this, while the brand needs to support our recruitment effort for our traditional students, it also has to raise the profile of the institution.

“I think this approach is going to give us a better presentation of our identity for those kinds of populations.”

The oft-revered “Northern. Naturally” slogan, which has been around for many years, did a good job showcasing the natural beauty that surrounds the university, but it did little to entice people here based on NMU’s academic programs, which run the gamut from one-year to graduate-level degrees.

“Our prior marketing effort was very much about the environment – which is a major component of being here – but at the same time academics was not mentioned,” Neiheisel said. “So we very specifically … talk about academics.”

The next step now is to insert the brand into every facet of the university, a project with an incredibly large scope of work.

With 165 different web sites associated with the university that include 30,000 individual web pages, Neiheisel said it will take some time to roll out the new brand through all of NMU’s publications.

“Whether it’s … nine, 12, 15 months, this is a process that we need to do,” he said. “The task at hand now is to take all of the things you see on the landing page and bring it forward.”

Tom Isaacson, who was acting associate vice president for identity, brand and marketing when the new brand was officially launched, said it’s a good sign that NMU is taking a chance with a complete overhaul of its publicity efforts.

“When we see what the university is facing with declining demographics in the region, I think it’s fun to be at a university that’s willing to take a risk,” Isaacson said.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.