Our Brand

Nebraska wordmark



“Simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service, it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.”


“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.”

COLIN BATES, buildingbrands.com

We agree with both Landor and Bates. In fact, a brand is the two together: the promise that the organization makes and the perception in the mind of the audiences. A brand is determined by the points of interaction between an organization’s promise and the perception of the reality/validity of that promise in the audiences’ minds.

Brand equals Promise + Perception

What Is A Brand?

The logo is an important symbol for the brand, but it is not the brand itself (not by a long shot). Imagine an iceberg and the logo as the proverbial tip; the rest of the iceberg under the surface – every way imaginable that someone can come into contact with the organization or any representation of it – is part of the brand, too. After all, everything an organization does either reflects some way on its promise and could potentially shape its perception in someone’s mind.
top of iceberg image logo representation
top of iceberg image Brand representation

Not Just A University

Our university educates students, generates new knowledge through research and extends the utility of research findings through outreach. Those functions are elements of the brand, but so is the university’s personality, the way it communicates through the performance of those functions and about them.


When examining what pieces of information to use in order to define our brand, the University can look at the way it has already communicated its vision, mission and priorities. All of these three help define our function, focus and plan for the future but do not define our traits, attributes, personality or brand essence.


To provide leadership for Nebraska through quality education (teaching), the generation of new knowledge (research) and distribution of that research through extension and outreach (service) as both the land-grant and the comprehensive public university in the state.

Our mission describes our function, but not personality/attributes.


  • Increase enrollment to 35,000 students.

  • Increase four-year graduate rate to 80 percent for undergraduates.

  • Increase total research expenditures to $600 million.

  • Increase annual economic contribution to the state to $3.5 billion.

Our vision helps us plan for the future, but it doesn't refer to our personality/attributes.


Undergraduate education and research.

Priorities help us focus, but they don't refer to our personality/attributes.


Attributes are characteristics and traits that describe a brand, as if describing a human personality. Because a brand is composed of both physical, personal, as well as material and inanimate things, attributes are a great way to define a brand personality.

The university's attributes are a good place to start when considering the general attitude voiced in communications, and these descriptors help to further qualify these attributes.

Ambitious Achievement-oriented but not cutthroat

Authentic Up front but not in-your-face

Collaborative Open but not clingy

Committed Focused but not singleminded

Friendly Approachable but not bubbly

Hard-working Industrious but not dull

Inclusive Down-to-earth but not lowbrow

Smart Intelligent but not pretentious


Anytime we talk about our brand promise, and what we hope our audience understands and experiences when in contact with our University, we are also talking about our brand essence. The two terms are essentially the same.

Brand Promise = Brand Essence

How do we find that essence?

Essence infographic of statistics about UNL


Nebraska N logo

Nebraska wordmark

Lots of Equity Already

Nationally-known as our University

Historically tied with Athletics

Our brand essence doesn’t change, unless something earth-shaking happens.


How is it expressed?

Here we come
to the field, the lecture and the laboratory

without pretense or privilege,

to commit more of ourselves
to this human enterprise,
and through diligent study and collaboration,
to improve it.

That those who follow may go further.
For we are not born to stand idle,
and neither Nebraska nor the world will wait.

Here we come.

Go Big Red.