VCU: A University Brand with the Courage to Stand Apart

Case Study
May 21, 2024


Ivy-Covered Virginia Universities

The VCU brand had an opportunity disguised as a problem. The landscape of Virginia universities is filled with ivy-covered tradition and history. You can even choose between the school Thomas Jefferson founded or the one he attended. 

Schools like UVA, William & Mary, and Virginia Tech made it tough for VCU to emerge from their shadows – it was too easy to get overlooked or even misunderstood.

Virginia Universities: University of Virginia, William and Mary, Virginia Tech
Virginia Universities

Our Objective: Celebrate What Makes VCU Unique

But after years of trying to play catch-up with those universities, VCU realized it was time to embrace what makes the school different. 

  • Where the others exist in ivy-covered enclaves, VCU sits in the middle of a thriving urban center. 
  • While other schools stand apart from their communities, VCU is an active participant in ours. 
  • Where other schools pride themselves on their selectivity, VCU is proud to offer higher education to Virginians from all backgrounds and every walk of life.

Like a true challenger brand, VCU occupies a unique space that others simply can’t or won’t. VCU is bold, challenging, unapologetic, forward-leaning, and welcoming. 

Our mission was simple - break through the sea of sameness with an authentic, bold and unapologetic voice. And celebrate what makes VCU unique among Virginia universities.

VCU: Virginia Commonwealth University

Our Approach

We partnered with the communications leaders at VCU to facilitate conversations with leadership, faculty, staff, and stakeholders from every corner of the university to understand what makes VCU truly unique among Virginia's universities.

The process helped us uncover stories of groundbreaking research, student achievement, and community impact. But even more, it helped build support for a strategy and campaign that highlighted what makes VCU truly different.

Brand Platform: UNCOMMON

We worked with our partners at VCU to translate those interviews into an overarching brand strategy that identified the thread that unites the stories of 28,000+ students and programs from medicine to social work to art: search for an Uncommon university experience. One that attracts people who aren't satisfied with the status quo, and want a university where they can truly stand apart. A University that's as Uncommon as they are.

Uncommon VCU Brand Platform


Equipped with an “uncommon” way to tell its story, VCU launched a campaign in 2022 that captured the essence of who VCU is and who it serves. A campaign and strategy that didn't ask VCU to blend into the other Virginia Universities, but celebrated its uniqueness.

Every aspect of the campaign was rooted in illustrating the stories of the differences at VCU and designed to attract people as different as the university. An unapologetically uncommon approach for an unapologetically uncommon University. What better way to highlight the difference at VCU?

Instagram Carousel about Uncommon

Uncommon Landing Page on VCU's Website

VCU UN Campaign OOH


VCU UN Campaign OOH


Learn more about how Brand Federation can help your business
No items found.
Learn more