Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it Real

Explore Fuseideas

Forget the “Ivory Tower.” At VCU, teachers, faculty and students make it real.

Virginia Commonwealth University Logo

The Challenge

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), one of the nation’s top research institutions and the largest employer in Richmond, wanted to achieve national visibility—but had no plan in place to do so. The institution also faced a lack of brand cohesion across its divisions and schools, while a deep (and historical) divide existed among stakeholders and alumni. Fuseideas was hired to create a united, coherent, unforgettable brand for VCU—while distinguishing them against local competitors like University of Virginia, Binghamton University, Binghamton University, and other institutions.

A magazine shows a student in an ad campaign

The Insight

VCU is a diverse community of people—faculty, staff, students—that, just like in the wider “real world, come from all walks of life. From conducting over 60 interviews, and surveys including thousands of university stakeholders, we got a deep sense who they are: driven, hard working, and practical, understanding there is a world out there that needs them. The unique city of Richmond, with its diversity and size, represents a special place for all of these elements to come together—and for students learn in a practical environment.

Billboard of VCU campaign

The Solution

We saw clearly that VCU is a microcosm of the wider world. The real world. It’s big, complex, and has its share of challenges—but the people that go there “get it done.” It’s no ivory tower: it’s where “real” happens. Working from our new tagline, “Make it real,” we reinvented the brand: from re-designing the university’s seal to crafting print ads, online marketing, a dedicated micro-site and more, we launched this younger, fresher approach, highlighting the school as a world-class institution located in a diverse environment that truly prepares students for the real world.

The Results

Powerful results were both immediate, and long term: we saw a 40% increase in the VCU Facebook fan base after a two week campaign that generated 25,000 new “likes.” Remarkable year-over-year growth followed: 2016 and 2017 set records for enrollment numbers; 2019 was the largest class in VCU history. Eight years on, the vibrant brand we created is still thriving.

An ipad with the VCU website pulled up