University of Virginia

Shared Energy

The nation’s first public university, the University of Virginia has played an integral role in the evolution of public education in the United States. Thomas Jefferson architected a new model for higher education, and the Academical Village—designed to create cross-disciplinary exchange—was positioned at the center of it all. But the legend of Jefferson and UVA’s museum-like traditions were overpowering stories of ingenuity and innovation, compromising relevancy.

To combat UVA’s historical reliance but honor its great legacy, 160over90 adjusted the narrative from Jefferson himself to the timeless ideals he espoused. The resulting brand platform, ‘Living Idealism,’ draws on the past while always looking to the future, reflecting the endless pursuits of the community and demonstrating a continued commitment to excellence, ingenuity, and leadership throughout UVA’s third century. Themes of collaboration, experimentation, and constant evolution were explored via print, digital, TV, radio, social, and high-visibility out-of-home placements. In five years’ time, we’ve built more than a brand identity for UVA—we’ve created a dynamic ecosystem that reflects the true diversity, shared energy, and bold mission of one of the nation’s great universities.

We’ve increased the institution’s visibility and perception within the Commonwealth of Virginia and in the national landscape. An awareness campaign has yielded 22 million impressions, resulting in the most successful video in school history and an 87% lift in unique site visits. A new subscription campaign for the news platform increased reach by 85% and generated 40,000 subscribers. And realignment of social properties grew total followers by nearly 40% in just the first year. We’ve helped UVA achieve an historic high in quality applications and student diversity, growing undergraduate applications by 27%; increasing first-generation and minority applicants by 10% and 4%, respectively; and securing the largest number of early-action applications in UVA’s history while improving SAT scores. And as a testament to internal adoption and brand alignment, in 2017 UVA was recognized by the American Marketing Association as the higher education marketing team of the year.