UWEC begins research to establish it’s identity

University partners with branding company to crystalize identity

Cade Fisher

More stories from Cade Fisher


Photo by Cade Fisher

The University has steered away from past ventures in branding, such as the Power of [AND] campaign starting in 2014.

UW-Eau Claire has partnered with a branding and design company to quantify the identity of this university.

Michael Knuth, the communications director and public information officer for the Integrated Marketing Communications department at UW-Eau Claire, said the university began researching for a firm to help triangulate an identity.

“We did some heavy-duty research and we happened upon Swink and we’re excited that they’re an in-state company. They’ve worked with many other universities,” Knuth said.

Swink, a Madison-based branding and design company, is working with UW-Eau Claire to finalize an identity for the university to use in enrollment and advertisements. 

According to their website, Swink has worked with organizations like the UW System, American Family Insurance, SC Johnson and Wilson Sporting Goods

The company specializes in helping organizations startup, create tools for pivoting within markets, work through mergers and focus on specific goals.

According to Knuth, the goal of working with Swink is to better understand what makes UW-Eau Claire different from other universities.

“Every day we’re focused on messaging and how we meet the various audiences we serve,” Knuth said. “So that’s prospective students, current students, alumni and the community.”

Swink has been working with UW-Eau Claire for the past few months to gather information according to Knuth. The company held small group meetings with students, faculty and staff.

In the Blugold Briefing email from March 27, UW-Eau Claire and Swink sent out a survey to discuss the university’s branding.

The survey had six questions and was marketed as a way for the university to better communicate with future Blugolds.

The survey was a free-response questionnaire that asked students why they chose UW-Eau Claire, what makes UW-Eau Claire better and worse than other universities, the culture on campus and when would students recommend UW-Eau Claire.

According to Knuth, the university and Swink are still in the process of gathering feedback from current and past students and analyzing the information they have gathered so far.

“UW-Eau Claire is a very large university and a large entity and we serve a number of audiences,” Knuth said. “So we want to get this right. We want to be very thoughtful about this, so we’re not in a rush.”

Shanan Galligan, a partner and founder of Swink, came on campus to present the branding of the university to the Student Senate and where they are at in the process.

There is no big campaign planned now for how the feedback is going to be utilized, but the information will be used in the words and imagery the university uses to share itself.

According to Knuth, Swink has been impressed by the engagement from students, faculty and administrative leaders and how passionate the university is.

“Higher Ed entities right now are trying to do this very thing. They’re really trying to pinpoint and fine-tune and separate themselves from the pack, if you will,” Knuth said. “To help prospective students and others understand all that there is to offer on campus, and we have a remarkable story to tell.”

Fisher can be reached at [email protected].


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted Michael Knuth saying “higher identities” instead of “Higher Ed entities.”