University messaging is a key component in communicating Northeastern’s identity to the public. It’s important, as a collective university community, to follow these messaging standards in order to maintain unity throughout Northeastern. They are guidelines to help you voice Northeastern’s objectives in a friendly and inviting tone.

University Messaging

The strongest brands in consumer products or educational institutions are those that are built through consistency of logos, messaging and service delivery.

To ensure message consistency, the University has worked with marketing firm Carnegie Dartlet to survey University stakeholders to better understand and strengthen our brand. Through this research, three distinct personality types emerged which broadly describe Northeastern, its strengths and character. These should be referenced, as appropriate, in virtually all University marketing efforts such as brochures, mailers, correspondence, NEIU’s website and social media sites.

University Messages

The five messages below collectively define and differentiate Northeastern.

  • Persist. Achieve academic excellence.
  • Overcome. Succeed through any challenge.
  • Empower. Build knowledge and confidence.
  • Collaborate. Work together to transform individuals and communities.
  • Create. Invest in students and provide opportunities for their professional growth.

The key messages are prominently displayed on the website and are brought to life by the stories and photographs accompanying them. Each message is represented by highlighted words, which collectively illustrate the University tagline, "Break Barriers." The highlighted words can be used as marketing materials.

How to Apply the University Messages

You’ll find the key message themes helpful in determining content and in selection of copy, tone, photographs, and profiles. Use as many key points as appropriate for the application and feel free to paraphrase, expand or omit some as dictated by a particular situation.

Although key message themes convey the Northeastern brand, their use is most powerful when individual colleges or units apply them locally.


Driven by challenge, Northeastern Illinois University works hard and perseveres against the odds to gain tremendous ground on the road to success.


Northeastern Illinois University and its stakeholders are resilient. Whatever our challenges, we are determined to face them head-on and remove any obstacles in our way through grit and determination.


From the first “hello” to Commencement, Northeastern students encounter ample encouragement to be themselves and have the autonomy to pursue their hopes and dreams. We approach each student’s needs on a holistic level through student academic and support services. This ensures students are able to realize their highest potential.


Through small class sizes and flexible schedules, Northeastern students are validated and valued with support and care for their individual needs. Our diverse community is a source of unlimited opportunities and a wealth of knowledge for students to utilize in classrooms, research opportunities and through extracurricular activities.


Northeastern fosters generations of multicultural leaders. At Northeastern, ideas can be shared, respected and brought to life in a deeply compassionate and original approach to higher education that supports the inherent tenacity of our students and inspires them to advance society and the world. Our students are more than scholars. They’re game changers.

Our mission is you.

At Northeastern Illinois University, we believe nothing should stop you from becoming everything you want to be. That’s why we meet you where you are and give you the tools and resources you need to push past challenges and stand out in a growing competitive workforce. We see your personal experiences as invaluable building blocks to your success. With an unending willingness to progress toward an end goal, our students, faculty and staff continually push past obstacles to thrive. Here, we celebrate and value each individual with a high degree of flexibility and guidance to promote well-being. As times change, we adapt to meet the needs of our students and the communities we serve. Through an intersectional campus culture, Northeastern dares to see what’s possible when students have the means and freedom to bring to life ideas in a supportive, collaborative environment. We believe in our mission. Because our mission is you.

The importance of voice and tone on branding is not to be overlooked. Along with our personas, it is the strongest attribute that connects our audiences with Northeastern. Collectively, we represent a welcoming and encouraging community, building trust and a relationship with our audiences.

So, what is voice and what is tone?

Voice is the personality and character of a brand’s identity. In essence, as an individual’s voice does not change, Northeastern’s voice does not change. On the other hand, tone does change, as it must adapt to an audience’s mindset based on situational context. In order to know which tone is appropriate, you must understand the situation, determine the delivery platform and gauge your audience’s emotional state.

Start a meaningful conversation with your audience by utilizing one of our personas in an open, inviting voice and tone that reflects Northeastern.


  • Make your audiences feel confident, engaged and informed.
  • Use an active voice when possible.
    • "Visit us today!"
    • "Find your career opportunities at our next Career Fair on ____."
  • Include the audience in the conversation, use inclusive terms when possible.
    • "We are proud of our excellent faculty."
    • "You can make a difference by becoming a tutor."
  • Keep ideas/sentences clear and concise; steer clear from adjective overload.
  • Know when to keep it formal. Know when you can keep it casual. Avoid jargon; add familiarity.
  • Add appropriate humor in the right context.
  • When describing a process, be clear in each step needed to complete the task.


Choose a persona that fits the idea of what you are conveying (NEIU is a contender; NEIU is a supportive environment; NEIU offers you a creative outlet).

Actively engage the reader:

  • Don't: "Submit your application to be considered for admission to NEIU."
  • Do: "Apply today!"

Be inclusive:

  • Don't: "Northeastern Illinois University offers daily 45-minute campus tours led by an NEIU student. Our tour times are ____."
  • Do: "Visit our campus and let one of our students show you what they love about Northeastern."

Attract your participants:

  • Don't: "Northeastern will be providing a musical recital at a catered event to showcase the many professional faculty and talented students through collaborative performances."
  • Do: "The halls are alive with the sound of music! Join us in celebrating the Music Department’s talented musicians on ____ in the Recital Hall."

Make steps easy to understand:

  • Don't: "In order to be considered for the scholarship, you must complete the scholarship application, provide three letters of recommendation, include a personal statement of no more than 500 words, double-spaced, and submit no later than March 1."
  • Do: "Complete submissions must be received by March 1 and include:
    • A complete scholarship application
    • Three letters of recommendation
    • A 500-word, double-spaced personal statement"

As content creators, we target our messages to students, potential students, donors, employees, educators and community members using a variety of platforms (ads, social media, email, etc.). The tone needed for a specific audience, platform and message can influence desired outcomes. It is our responsibility to tailor our messages to each audience and platform while remembering to uphold the University’s image and maintaining consistent style guidelines.

To clarify writing styles, we suggest keeping to the four categories below when composing messages.


(Platforms: social media, InLighten screens, internal advertising)

  • Lighthearted for students Even more casual language for social media is acceptable
  • If the message is dry, spice it up with a catchy headline
  • Contractions and exclamation marks are OK!
  • Some jargon terms are OK


(Platforms: feature stories, marketing materials, emails, portions of professional bios, targeted announcements, portions of academic program descriptions)

  • Most commonly used
  • Combine message and quotes
  • Descriptive but not playful


(Platforms: news stories and releases, emails, department descriptions, how-to guides)

  • Dry material
  • Informative/factual
  • Serious subject matter


(Platforms: portions of academic program descriptions, portions of professional bios)

  • Technical language
  • Precise message
  • Not conversational