Students in class, framed by BenU banner

Voice

Our message is what we say. Our voice is how we say it. Together, a compelling message and a consistent voice are what make the Benedictine University story resonate with prospective students, current students and alumni. This is also how we stand apart from our peers. In this section, you’ll find guidance to help you achieve this across all of our communications.

Brand Narrative

This is our brand narrative. It elevates our strengths, inspires our message and voice, and identifies what our audiences can expect from us. It forms the basis of an ownable, unique story for the University, and what it means to seek out a greater purpose in all things.

How to Use It

To gut-check voice: Does the tone of what you’re writing capture the spirit of “In All Things”? Does this sound like the personality of someone who embodies the idea?

To stay on message: Move beyond facts whenever possible. By addressing the motivation behind our successes, we can create a stronger emotional tie with the audience.

Brand Narrative

The ability. The drive. The ambition. When you come to Benedictine University, you already have all that. That’s not why you’re here. You’re here to do something about it.

And it starts when you ask yourself the biggest question of all: What will you do when you see what you’re capable of?

All the successes you’ll have. All the connections you’ll make. All the lives you’ll inspire. All the things you dreamed you’d one day accomplish, and all the things you never thought you’d achieve.

It’s here where you’ll gain the intellectual awareness, the emotional strength and the spiritual guidance to find big answers to every question you’ll face.

What will you discover when you see beyond what is to create what could be? The experiences that turn uncertainty into conviction. The programs that turn personal interest into professional achievement. The opportunities that turn “what if?” into “why not?” A connection to the Catholic faith and a foundation in the Benedictine values that turn a way of learning into a way of life.

How will you grow as you join a community that inspires you to demand more of yourself?

Richer in spirit, as you’re guided by something bigger than yourself. Larger in impact, as you’re surrounded by others who support and challenge you. Further in your career, as you develop as a learner, thinker and leader. Deeper in understanding, as you seek balance and find your grander purpose.

What will you gain when all the things you’d planned become all the things you’ve done?

Wisdom, in all the things you’ll uncover. Courage, in all the things you’ll attempt. Purpose, in all the things you’ll become.

Imagine all the things you’ll do.

Brand Narrative Breakdown

Taken as a whole, the brand narrative is a great source of inspiration that can inform the language we use in BenU marketing materials. That said, keep in mind that it’s composed of several smaller messages, each illustrating distinct characteristics that, together, form our central message.

Diagram with a breakdown of the thoughts and meaning behind the brand narrative

Constructing Headlines

Headlines are supposed to do the heavy lifting, so don’t be afraid to use them to make a bold statement. Just make sure that the result sounds like BenU.

To help you create compelling messages, we’ve established several frameworks that will help you write strong and effective headlines. This set of ideas isn’t a comprehensive or restrictive list; rather, it’s an easy way to get started using the brand’s voice.

[Value/Virtue] In All Things.

Bold and compelling, this headline construction allows you to quickly highlight the key themes of modern Catholic Social Teaching and segue into how it influences BenU’s culture.

  • Respect in all things.
  • Compassion in all things.
  • Mindfulness in all things.

All the [Goal] You'll _______.

BenU prepares students to do all the things they’ve planned for themselves. Headlines that follow this pattern can support that statement in a direct, powerful way.

  • All the successes you’ll celebrate.
  • All the victories you’ll achieve.

Imagine ____________.

BenU gives students opportunities to achieve big goals and find greater purpose. Use this headline format to call out specific programs and other examples that demonstrate those opportunities.

  • Imagine what’s possible in just 18 months.
  • Imagine all the things you’ll do.
  • Imagine all the ways you’ll grow.

What if [Goal]?

Use this construction to illustrate specific examples how BenU equips students to pursue their passions. For a particularly effective payoff, pose a big question and pair it with a real-world example in the copy that follows.

  • What if a community welcomed and embraced all people?
  • What if you edited this magazine?

Highlighting the Hallmarks

Our hallmarks form the foundation for our story as a University and as a brand. While we don’t use them in standard headline constructions, we do root all messaging in the ethos they present. Body copy and subheads should reflect the ways in which members of the community live these sentiments daily. Use the descriptions of the hallmarks as your guide.

  • THE LOVE OF CHRIST AND NEIGHBOR
  • PRAYER: A LIFE MARKED BY LITURGY, LECTIO AND MINDFULNESS
  • STABILITY: COMMITMENT TO THE DAILY LIFE OF THIS PLACE, ITS HERITAGE AND TRADITION
  • CONVERSATIO: THE WAY OF FORMATION AND TRANSFORMATION
  • OBEDIENCE: A COMMITMENT TO LISTENING AND CONSEQUENT ACTION
  • DISCIPLINE: A WAY TOWARD LEARNING AND FREEDOM
  • HUMILITY: KNOWLEDGE OF SELF IN RELATION TO GOD, OTHERS AND CREATION
  • STEWARDSHIP: RESPONSIBLE USE OF CREATION, CULTURE AND THE ARTS
  • HOSPITALITY: OPENNESS TO THE OTHER
  • COMMUNITY: OUR CALL TO SERVE THE COMMON GOOD

Flexing Our Voice

The way you talk to a prospective student is going to be a bit different from how you talk to an alumnus or faculty. Fortunately, our brand platform can support a wide range of messages, so we can speak effectively to all of our audiences.

How We Flex Our Voice to Reach:

Prospective Undergrads and Non-Traditional Students

DOMINANT PERSONALITY TRAITS: Driven and principled.

They’re ambitious and motivated by a greater purpose. They’re also guided by an innate sense of value, actively seeking ways to achieve their goals. Tell them how BenU can equip them to do just that.

How We Flex Our Voice to Reach:

Faculty

DOMINANT PERSONALITY TRAITS: Intellectual and welcoming.

They’re willing to go above and beyond to create an inclusive place of truth and learning. So highlight our academic rigor and the relationships that grow between students and peers.

How We Flex Our Voice to Reach:

Alumni and Friends

DOMINANT PERSONALITY TRAITS: Intellectual and principled.

They’re rooted in a strong sense of duty and truth. To engage them, speak to how BenU prepares students to be purposeful and engaged in their communities.

Crafting Content

Regardless of what you’re writing, you want to make sure your message — and our voice — rings clear. Follow these tips while generating content to ensure the BenU spirit comes through.

Tip 1
Know Your Audience.

Identify the audience you’re trying to reach, or nothing you say will reach them.

Tip 2
Focus on One Thing.

Emphasize a single message. Include more, and your readers will either forget what they’ve read or just stop reading.

Tip 3
Make It Personal.

Use the second-person “you” and “your” to engage and motivate the reader.

Tip 4
Avoid Jargon.

Write clearly and keep your language approachable. Jargon has its place, but our communications are not it.

Tip 5
Stay Away from the Passive.

Amazing things are happening at BenU. Use an active voice to tell the world about it.

Tip 6
Give the Reader Something to Do.

Always include a clear call to action.

Tip 7
Choose Wisely.

Every communication needn’t contain every detail. Focus on what’s both important and relevant — clutter just gets in the way of our message.

Tip 8
Incorporate White Space.

Your readers’ eyes need a place to rest so that their brains can digest information. Work with a graphic designer to ensure that your content is well organized and makes good use of white space.

Tip 9
Avoid Clichés

It’s easy to resort to clichés: at first blush, they sound catchy. But it’s best to avoid them. Use our personality to our advantage by being original and engaging.

Tip 10
Don’t Force Excitement.

If the message isn’t something we’d yell, it doesn’t deserve an exclamation point. Use them extremely sparingly — or better yet, not at all.

Writing Tips

People don’t read digital content the same way they read printed material. With print pieces, we can control the reader somewhat by carefully building arguments and presenting information in logical sequences, but this doesn’t often apply to digital applications.

Most readers skim content online, ignoring details to read faster and hunt down the exact information they need. Keep this in mind when carrying the brand voice through to digital channels. Here are some tips for keeping your digital content strong and concise.

Tip 1
Know Your Audience.

  • Ask yourself: What do they want to know? What are they trying to do?
  • People use the internet either to get information quickly or to dive deeper into a subject. In most cases, they want to get to the page with the information they need as rapidly as possible.

Tip 2
Tap the Power of Headlines.

  • Headlines should describe what the page is all about.
  • This is the opportunity to bring out the brand voice.
    Examples:
    “What if you found the cure?”
    “All the discoveries you’ll make.”
    “Imagine starting here.”
  • Use the words your target audience uses.
    Do: Financial aid.
    Do not: Financial assistance.

Tip 3
Include a Call to Action.

  • Be direct about where the link goes. We’re looking to getting people the information they need, smoothly. They shouldn’t have to hunt down the “apply today” option.
  • Voice up call-to-action buttons to draw attention and encourage engagement.
    Examples:
    “Discover how you could help others.”

Tip 4
Be Brief.

  • Less than 20 percent of web content is actually read.
  • Front-load the main points or key words in paragraph structure for better search engine results.
    Do: Artists and art historians reframe the ways we view and interact with the world.
    Do not: Reframe the ways in which we view and interact with the world through your work as an artist or art historian.
  • Use only one idea per paragraph.
  • Keep it short. Aim for these lengths:
    Headings: 8–10 words
    Sentences: 15–20 words
    Paragraphs: 40–70 words
    Pages: 500 words or fewer

Tip 5
Break Up the Text.

  • Divide the content into bite-size chunks, with lists, options, steps, items, stats and the like. This makes the information much easier to visually digest.
  • Readers are searching for facts, so they typically skip the intro text. If you do use intro text, keep it to one or two very informative sentences, like what’s on the page and why it matters.