OSU Brand Management recognized as nation’s best higher education marketing team
Friday, November 17, 2023
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The American Marketing Association Foundation has named Oklahoma State University’s Department of Brand Management the 2023 Higher Education Marketing Team of the Year.
The prestigious national award recognizes exceptional creativity and ingenuity within the higher education marketing landscape and organizations that have demonstrated outstanding innovation in traditional and digital realms.
“Congratulations to all our winners for their exceptional work in higher education marketing,” said AMA CEO Bennie F. Johnson. “I’m excited to honor these individuals and organizations for their extraordinary leadership, innovation and marketing achievements.”
A small team representing Brand Management attended the 2023 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education this week in Chicago, where over 1,500 attendees from higher education institutions across the country came together to learn about emerging trends in the industry and recognize the nation’s top communications professionals and teams.
OSU Interim Associate Vice President of Brand Management Megan Horton credited the award to the hard work and dedication of the entire department, as well as support from partners and OSU communications professionals and colleagues from across the OSU System.
“Our division has transitioned from three distinct offices of communications, marketing and enrollment management communications to one division that has built momentum year after year,” Horton said. “And over the past 12 months, we successfully expanded the university's substantial branding campaign, fostered unity across our campuses through culture-building communications around the Cowboy Code, supported historic enrollment growth, and — thanks to our forward-thinking president, Dr. Kayse Shrum — boldly launched an inspirational university strategic plan that has galvanized our faculty, staff, students and alumni.
“We have a ‘one brand, one team’ mindset. It is core to our work and the collaborative culture we’ve built together. And getting to this point in our brand journey has truly been a team effort across our five-campus system.”
Third-party partner organizations offered their support, acknowledging the achievement and strategic work that led the OSU team to victory.
“Over the last few years, we have seen the OSU Brand Management team plan for and achieve change,” said Carnegie Executive Vice President Melissa Rekos. “They wisely saw the higher education landscape morphing and transformed their team to align with today's demands. They honed their skills and focused on their efforts to meet their audience’s expectations with digital-first and truly personalized brand experiences. Additionally, they advocated for a research-first approach to brand and marketing, which led to significant improvements in their brand platform, media strategies and messaging.”
NewCity worked with OSU to relaunch its main website and is currently working on multiple projects with the university. NewCity President David Poteet said the OSU Brand Management team achieved success by taking a strategic, long-game approach that prioritized clear goals.
“It was a huge undertaking to move from a single homepage connecting hundreds, perhaps thousands, of separate federated sites and convince colleagues to voluntarily adopt a new platform and work together on centralized, user-focused content,” Poteet said. “And, they pulled that off better than any institution we’ve worked with.
“The website is just one outcome of all the legwork they did to make their organization into a well-oiled strategic machine, and the dramatic improvements to the user experience have come as a result of that larger effort. We still brag on them to this day and hold them up as an example to our other higher ed clients.”
Building on these recent milestones, Brand Management has a vision to expand the impact of OSU's "We are Land-Grant" strategic plan with a focus on spreading awareness about the land-grant mission and how OSU is making a real world impact by addressing society’s most pressing challenges.
Kyle Wray, senior vice president for executive affairs, said the Brand Management team's strategic work has been instrumental in uniting the OSU brand, and he's looking forward to seeing OSU's communication outreach efforts grow and how they'll continue to elevate the brand and advance OSU's land-grant mission.
"The Department of Brand Management has made incredible strides over the past few years, and this recognition is certainly well deserved. As we move toward cementing OSU as the nation’s preeminent land-grant university, a unified voice and potent storytelling will be key components of our shared success. It’s a great time to be a Cowboy, and our talented marketing and communications staff are making sure everyone knows it.”