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Messaging

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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 developed five key communication points that broadly describe Northeastern, its strengths and character. These should be used, as appropriate, in virtually all University marketing efforts such as brochures, mailers, correspondence and social media sites.

UNIVERSITY MESSAGES

The five key messages below collectively define and differentiate Northeastern.

  • Learn. Attain quality education.
  • Belong. Connect with a welcoming, diverse community.
  • Achieve. Help students succeed.
  • Transform. Change lives.
  • Lead. Obtain excellent career preparation.

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, "Learn in the city. Lead in the world." 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.

Learn.

Our excellent faculty and programs support the quality education at Northeastern. Convey this characteristic by showing a professor conducting field research or by depicting the accomplishments of students or alumni through meaningful stories.

Belong.

A welcoming, diverse community speaks to Northeastern’s many cultures, its extracurricular activities and the community partnerships established over the years. Use a story on community collaborations or a feature on a cultural event to showcase the many activities that are offered to students; photos of student participation emphasize this theme.

Achieve.

Each of us at Northeastern impacts a student’s life, directly and indirectly. Exemplify our efforts in helping students succeed through images of faculty-student interaction. A story on academic services that support peer-to-peer learning would expose students to the resources available at Northeastern.

Transform.

Attending college is a big step for many and graduating is a life-changing accomplishment. The successes of our University community should be emphasized. Highlight faculty, student and alumni transformative achievements through personal and professional stories and images.

Lead.

After completing college, the outcome sought is a career. Northeastern prepares its students through internship and work experience opportunities. Show the community and world where our students have come from and where they are headed. Show others that they, too, have the same opportunities to lead.

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 Voice and Tone

The importance of voice and tone on branding is not to be overlooked. In fact, it is the strongest attribute that connects customers with a product or service. For Northeastern this means all units should personify our mission, vision and values as guidance in articulating our voice and tone. Through our interactions, we collectively 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. It must remain likable and consistent throughout various communication channels. 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 content type and gauge your audience’s emotional state.

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

HELPFUL GUIDELINES WHEN CREATING CONTENT:

  • 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.

HOW TO APPLY VOICE AND TONE

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 Recital Hall."

Make steps easy to understand:

Don't: "In order to be considered for the scholarship, you must complete the scholarships 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 brief personal statement

 

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 Writing Styles 

As content creators, we target our messages to students, potential students, donors, employees, educators and community members using a variety of media. Each type of audience responds best to a different tone. It is our responsibility to tailor our messages to each audience for maximum effect while remembering to uphold the University’s image and consistent style guidelines.

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

CASUAL

(Examples: 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 slang terms are OK

FRIENDLY AND PROFESSIONAL

(Examples: feature stories, marketing materials, portions of professional bios)

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

FORMAL OR SERIOUS

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

  • Dry material
  • Informative/factual
  • Serious subject matter

ACADEMIC ONLY

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

  • Technical language
  • Precise message
  • Not conversational

Brand

Contact the Division of Marketing and Communications

T (773) 442-5419

marketing@neiu.edu

Contact the Division of Marketing and Communications

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