Utilizing the Illinois Brand Personality, Voice and Tone


The Illinois brand has its own distinctive personality, voice and tone—our strengths and characteristics expressed in human terms. Our brand personality and voice are an extension of our brand pillars: innovation, community, momentum and discovery. They reflect the character of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and help people understand the heart and soul of the university.

Target Audience

  • Campus communicators

Brand Guidance


Consider these steps to help your communications achieve the desired results with the intended audience by conveying the Illinois brand personality through effective tone and voice.

  1. Know the brand: Which attribute or feature of the university most readily distinguishes the Illinois brand? Can you easily think of adjectives that describe the university? Can you identify recent communications from your unit that achieved a specific goal where our Illinois brand personality was distinct?
  2. Make sure voice reflects personality: If you surveyed the spectrum of your communications and channels would you say an identifiable brand voice – our unique personality – emerged? If not, where are the gaps? Do you have techniques you’ve developed to ensure your communications output expressed our brand personality?
  3. Adapt tone for maximum effectiveness: Is it consistent? If you examined a year’s worth of your unit’s communications specifically for tone, would there be a pattern of messages nuanced to match an audience, issue or subject matter? Do you have a protocol to monitor or adapt communications for tone? Are you more alert to tone depending on the audience – students, faculty, staff, community or alumni?
  4. Consider brand pillars: Every time you communicate with any internal or external audience, consider which brand pillar to incorporate into your message, with the goal to illustrate a brand pillar—not directly telling audiences what they are.
  5. Tailor your message to your audience and channel: Customize content to resonate with your audience’s needs. By tailoring your message, you ensure the communication resonates with the specific group.
  6. Guiding thoughts: When preparing communications do you consider whether the personality, tone and voice of the message fits the audience and represents the Illinois brand? Is it instinctive? For example, would it be helpful after writing a news release or other communication to pause and reflect on whether relevant brand messaging components will help the intended audience embrace the message?

Tone component examples


If you are worried that a student may need support with their basic needs, submit a referral to the Student Assistance Center. Our staff will reach out to provide the appropriate resources.


Not everyone always has access to basic needs. In the unlikely event you detect a student is grappling with their basic needs, please feel free to contact the Student Assistance Center. Your thoughtful diligence and concern are much appreciated.


The opportunity to participate in the university’s summer oceanography program will bring to life a world Mason has only seen on television. The biology major grew up fascinated with the ocean after a television travel series introduced him to marine biology.


Before participating in the university’s summer oceanography program, the only open waters Mason saw in the summer were in the flooded basement of his family’s apartment building. He said he didn’t have many good life choices until the university gave him a chance to avoid the hardships his parents had known.


A gift of medieval paintings from the private collection of an alumna will highlight a period in the artist’s career not previously seen by the public.


A gift of rare medieval paintings from the private collection of a first-time donor to the university will mark the inaugural public viewing of the artworks thought to surpass other donations of art to an educational institution.


The university has announced plans to open three new satellite campuses based on population growth projections. The new expansion coincides with the 150th anniversary of the university becoming the nation’s first college to establish a campus outside the U.S.


The university has announced plans to open three new satellite campuses, easily outdistancing peer institutions as the sole American university with more than 20% growth in foreign nations within a five-year period.


Why do I need to consider the brand when writing?
Aligning with the Illinois brand promotes cohesion and consistency. It also helps to build trust with key university audiences. When we speak with consistency, both the brand and accompanying messages are strengthened.


Anthony Hicks, Writer/Editor, hicksar@illinois.edu

Maeve Reilly, Writer/Editor, mjreilly@illinois.edu

Katie Watson, Associate Director of Institutional Communications, kawatson@illinois.edu