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'Leaders in Action': UND chooses new branding slogan

GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota has settled on a new slogan to form the center of its ongoing branding effort.

After sifting through data at the end of months of research, university leaders decided to move forward with "Leaders in Action" as its core slogan and brand identity.

UND President Mark Kennedy said in a press release that the motto reflected a "recurring theme" gleaned from conversations with university alumni.

"UND graduates are in demand because they are prepared and committed to getting to work to make an impact, to lead," Kennedy said. "They personify Theodore Roosevelt's exhortation to 'Get Action.' Before UND began amplifying our marketing by upgrading our website and making significant advertising expenditures, it was vital to make a relatively minor investment to first capture the essence of what it means to be a UND graduate."

According to the release, the "Leaders" slogan landed well across all demographics targeted in focus group testing. The motto was also selected by students who felt it reflected the reality of a UND education.

The university has been wrestling with its brand for the past few years. Sol Jensen, former UND assistant vice president for admissions and financial aid, spearheaded the branding initiative over the past year. He described the concept of brand as a way to sum up the collective character of the institution in such a way that both students and the public could "live and breathe it."

The rebranding was primarily a response to a feeling among UND leaders that the university had lost control over its narrative over the course of public controversy, namely that surrounding the UND Fighting Sioux nickname battle but also a negative view of the school's deep budget cuts.

The Fighting Hawks nickname and logo, both rolled out to the public last year, are some of the tangible examples so far of the brand transition, though UND leaders are quick to point out that the brand goes further than the school's athletics programs. The "Leaders" slogan will phase out the school's previous, loosely used tagline, that used various iterations of "Where Your Legacy Begins."