2nd Annual International Brand Master


John-Lichtenberg-WinnerJohn Lichtenberg took a safe, predictable, 88-year old all-business college and gave it a brand with energy and personality. He’s given students, faculty, staff and alumni a new reason to be proud of Walsh College.

He didn’t invent Walsh’s all-business focus, but he initiated the research that revealed the power of its brand positioning. Seeing its potential as a marketing theme, he refined and launched it in such a way that it was quickly embraced by all. His guidance and inspiration sends his staff and agencies in the same direction. He takes risks and urges others to do the same, inspiring a steady stream of fresh ideas. The sense of ownership among his team is pervasive, and the passion for the brand profound. Read more about John below or read our blog ‘A-Walsh in Yellow.’

John Lichtenberg is the Second Annual International Brand Master.

John Lichtenberg

VP, Chief Marketing & Enrollment Officer

Walsh College

Entirely Optional Background
When I started with Walsh College two years ago, I engaged in the typical pedestrian research exercise: sitting behind mirrored glass for days eating sandwiches and making occasional jokes about peoples’ hair or guys hitting on the women next to them. What I found however, was a bit surprising. After 86 years, there was almost no awareness that Walsh existed, let alone any brand definition— and Walsh was the largest graduate business school in Michigan.

So our objective for Year One was simply to shout “we are here” and “here’s what we stand for.” In Year Two, we focused on defining the College and our programs. And in 2010, we began to tell the Walsh story, credentialing the College and our passion for Detroit.

On my office wall hangs a simple sheet of paper with the words I live by. “Safe is Death.”

I beg my creative people to make me nervous. Perhaps my experience with the progressive marketing in Europe desensitized me. For some in the faculty wing, my irreverent work creates intestinal anarchy. Yet we’re smashing every soft and hard metric, much to the chagrin of my competitors.

Shameless Self-Promotion
Beyond a reputable brand on their resume, students in this market covet speed. We assessed the viability of an abbreviated Master of Management degree that featured more breadth than the depth of an MBA. Following the same notion, we created a program combining our MBA and Master of Science in Finance.

In January, we launched the two graduate degrees. These we marketed separately through TV, print, radio, online, and direct marketing. Factoring in retention, the combined programs will yield more than $5 million.

We extended the creative platform to highlight other programs and reloaded our general brand work. With our brand firmly seated through traditional media, we deployed below-the-line tactics that included dispatching a SWOT team of actors in yellow zoot suits and a customized rickshaw around town.

Silly. Cheap. Easy. Crazy successful.

Beyond the classroom, we engaged in several initiatives to embed us in the community. These included free courses for displaced workers, creating a resource institute for start-up and second-stage businesses, and—most important to me— adopting two classes of first graders deep in the impoverished city.

None are profit centers. All embody what’s right about Walsh.

Mom’s Proud. Happy CFO. Love All Around.

  • In 2010, I reduced the marketing budget by 33 percent. This freaked out the College trustees.
  • We attained our highest enrollment in the College’s 89-history.
  • During the 2011 winter semester, we’re at the highest new undergraduate enrollment since 2000. New graduate student enrollment is the highest in history.
  • Market share growth continues.
  • Our fifth tracking study indicates an upward trend in opinion and consideration. Unaided awareness as the “top business school in Michigan” improved from fifth to second place, following the University of Michigan.
  • Direct and web inquiries are up 18 percent.
  • New graduate programs created a one-year incremental growth of 381 students.
  • Public relations: $497,000 in media value and huge success in nailing key messages – and that’s after I fired the PR agency and took it in-house with no additional staff. Me likey.

Much Swell Stuff:


The Second Annual International Brand Master Award selection process proved to be a difficult one, with two finalists who demonstrated extraordinary achievements in their own right. We offer our sincere congratulations to both of the finalists below for their outstanding work, distinguished achievements, and dedicated professionalism. We hope to see them in future International Brand Master awards.

Teri Lucie Thompson

Vice President for Marketing and Media

Purdue University

Teri Lucie ThompsonAs part of its 2010 Homecoming celebration, Purdue University unveiled a new brand campaign, “Makers, All” that celebrates the university’s legacy as well as its future promise.

The new brand strategy is grounded in both quantitative and qualitative research. The strategy brings to life key differentiators of Purdue: excellence in the STEM disciplines, experiential learning opportunities and the preparation students receive readying them to make a difference.

The first phase of the campaign focused primarily on internal audiences – students, faculty, staff and alumni – who recognize Purdue as an academically strong institution and who, as advocates for the institution, serve as brand ambassadors to carry its messages of making a difference to the world.

To kick off the brand launch, environmental marketing on campus included banners in key areas on campus, window displays and the local transit system. Disruptive marketing techniques included three, large sculptures that featured significant Purdue’s accomplishments.

Special messages were featured on the video board in Ross-Ade Stadium during the Homecoming football game. When prompted, fans responded with more than 3,000 text messages in five minutes to earn a campaign t-shirt.

Thousands of students, alumni and other friends of the university have visited the campaign’s microsite to weigh in on what kind of “Maker” they are. Stickers allowed visitors to write and share what kind of “Maker” they declared themselves to be.

At the USA Science & Engineering event held the following week in Washington, D.C., we distributed more than 5,000 “Maker” buttons to visitors to our booth, which prominently displayed the “Makers” theme. One of our favorite moments was when a representative from the marketing department for Clemson University’s College of Science and Engineering stopped by to share how envious she and her colleagues were that we had created the “Makers, All” campaign and not them.

Another exciting outcome is that our students have become actively engaged in spreading the word on the brand messaging. Several student organizations have requested brand materials to use on t-shirts for their events. Another student organization is creating an event where students will be able to describe what kind of “Maker” they are and then post it to Facebook and Twitter. Classes have become engaged by creating class projects that will be implemented into the overall student initiative. And still others are becoming Brand Ambassadors who will continue to spread the messaging to their peer groups and social networks through special events and presentations.

A key tenet of any successful branding strategy is its capacity to make an impact and stimulate discussion. The new ‘Makers, All’ campaign does just that. It highlights Purdue’s unique points of differentiation and extends our brand beyond an athletics powerhouse. The theme captures the very essence of the breadth and depth of what we do here at Purdue. From business makers and discovery makers to filmmakers, poetry makers and cure makers, we are truly Makers, All.

Three related links:

  1. www.purdue.edu/makers
  2. www.asicentral.com/asp/open/news/wearables/index.aspx#top
  3. www.mediapost.com/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=139940

Larry Hincker

Associate VP for University Relations

Virginia Tech

Larry HinckerLarry Hincker is responsible for a compelling, integrated, brand campaign at a large, complex university. Since its inception in 2004, the “Invent the Future” brand campaign has been the basis for consistent and powerful messaging, a distinctive brand personality coordinated across multiple platforms, and multi-faceted campaigns.

As Virginia Tech’s senior brand manager, Hincker guided the university in creating a well differentiated leadership position. Using a research-based positioning strategy, and compiling and testing input from faculty, staff, and students, the result has been a brand promise and key features of the Tech experience strongly endorsed by leadership and adopted by virtually all internal groups.

Since its public launch in 2006, Hincker has overseen the brand campaign as well as many successful efforts that motivate internal stakeholders to internalize and own the brand position. Under his leadership, Tech also built an integrated web-centric approach to branding that incorporates new-media platforms, tactics, and focused audience sectors.

The brand campaign’s genesis was the university’s strategic plan to build reputation for quality academics and research prowess. Forecasting the ultimate erosion of state support and a growing dependence on tuition revenue, the president tasked Hincker with ensuring a brand known for quality that would withstand years of persistent tuition increases.

The university has achieved tangible results:

  • Improved student quality profile every year since brand launch
  • Strong demand from out-of-state students (the target of focused branded ad campaigns and a landing microsite)
  • A compelling leadership position for research excellence among the region’s key opinion leaders (evidence from two polls)
  • Widespread adoption of brand components by university communicators not under direct control of Hincker’s department

Alumni showed strong support for the brand by participating in the launch of www.thisisthefuture.com, a microsite of user submitted stories demonstrating “impact and innovation.” Students, for their part, participated in YouTube promotions and have adopted the tagline in various advocacy campaigns. Offices throughout the university have adopted brand messaging. For example, Development dubbed its newsletter “Impact” mimicking the university brand promise of Quality, Innovation, and Results. The brand has been used as the over-arching concept for the $1 billion capital campaign, as well as for student recruitment marketing campaign.

University brand campaigns inevitably lose steam. University Relations forestalled loss of momentum by creating in 2009 the award-winning “Brand Ambassadors” program. This innovative 10-module training series created brand advocates and extended brand concepts to more than 60 new communicators or affiliates outside University Relations.

The western Virginia business magazine Valley Business Front recently devoted its entire issue to the university dubbing it, “The Impact of Virginia Tech.” In addition, the university has advanced several positions in US News rankings of best universities in the U.S., ranking 69, and was ranked #42 in the U.S. by high school counselors, and was named among 20 best universities to hire grads in a Wall Street Journal survey of corporate recruiters.

Hincker joined Virginia Tech in 1988 and under his two decade leadership university name recognition has grown around the world, due in no small part to his persistent visual standards campaign to standardize and reduce multiple university names. He was the public face of the university during and after the Tragedy of April 2007. He has shared his insights on crisis communications, brand messaging, and other communications topics with PRSA, CASE, and organizations in the U.K and New Zealand. He represented Tech on the local chamber board for 10 years and was a founding member of a local economic development group.

Background and supporting information:


The following nominees (listed in alphabetical order) have exemplified exceptional achievement in higher education brand management and have been recognized by peers and colleagues through their nomination for the 2010 International Brand Master nomination. We congratulate all of the nominees for this well-deserved recognition, and for being a part of the International Brand Master award competition. Who knows, we may see them as a finalist next year.

Meredith Bradt

Strategic Marketing Advisor

Maastricht University School of Business and Economics

She is the driving force behind the first-ever branding project at the School of Business and Economics. She tirelessly lobbied and convinced even the hard core skeptics to support and participate. She saw a name change as more than semantics and asked: what is our brand? She took a strategic standpoint and persuaded the Board to invest in the project. She understood the importance of defining the brand inside-out, and involved stakeholders from every corner of the School. She has managed to effectively communicate the process of the project & the results to the whole School. She has done this in difficult financial times & continues to persevere that the long-term investment will pay off.

Carrie Chowske

Director of Marketing Communications

Flagler College

Carrie took Flagler College’s outdated, disjointed and out-of-control logos and branding and brought order, cohesiveness and consistency. From working on a new logo redesign and implementation to brand statement development, Carrie has shown that she has the skills necessary to help Flagler develop the tools it needs and deploy them campus-wide. She understands that it is sometimes less about colors, designs and looking pretty, and more about how well you build college-wide buy-in, consistency and coordination. She does this through good communication and working well with others.

James Ebel

Chief Marketing Officer

University of Mississippi

Since joining the university in 2009, James Ebel has built a brand unit that reflects modern communication methods by blending his experience in corporate branding with higher ed marketing. Ebel came to the university with experience in branding for highly-recognizable corporations including Huggies and Fruit of the Loom. He has applied this knowledge to higher ed in numerous ways and has overseen the development of a branding, marketing and PR unit focused on trying new ideas that are grounded in tested research and positioning methods. The University Brand Services website is a testament to the way that this new structure approaches its mission.

Deborah Wiltrout

Senior Director for Marketing Strategy

American University

She led the AU Wonk branding effort. She’s creative, smart; adheres closely to strategy and requirements and has helped the University select a brand strategy that is bold, distinctive, flexible, and effective. Deborah has worked in higher education since she came to University of Maryland in 2000. She was the creative inspiration behind the Fear the Turtle campaign that is now going into its tenth year. After a successful tenure at Maryland, Deborah leads the marketing team at AU. Examples of the early work on the American Wonk Campaign have built the beginnings of an exciting and compelling brand.

Terry Witherell

Associate Vice President

Florida International University

Ms. Witherell has been working to solidify and centralize her university’s brand for nearly 10 years and recently achieved a successful launch. She lobbied for brand research dollars and always pushed for the scientific approach rather than jumping to creative. The Worlds Ahead brand launched internally and was well received by the university community. The first commercial was aired and a website for prospective students was developed among other highly unique and creative tactics.


A blue-ribbon panel of experienced marketing judges has volunteered their precious time and expertise to review each nominee’s impressive body of work. Here are the judges that provided their thoughts this year. Click on the judges’ images to learn more about them.

Andrew Careaga

Director of Communications

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Andrew CareagaA 20-year veteran of higher ed marketing, Andrew Careaga was responsible for coordinating the rebranding initiative for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) when the university successfully changed its name from the University of Missouri-Rolla, effective in 2008. For those efforts and others, Careaga received Educational Marketing Group’s International Brand Master award in 2009. A self-described social media junkie, Careaga blogs frequently on his personal site, Higher Ed Marketing (highered.prblogs.org), and is involved in coordinating Missouri S&T’s social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Careaga’s professional involvement includes service with CASE (the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education) as chair of CASE District VI (1998-2000) and a three-year term on the CASE Communications and Marketing Commission (2002-2005). He also served on the CASE Commission on Opportunity and Equity from 1994-1996.

June Davidson

Director of Marketing

Dalhousie University

June DavidsonJune Davidson is Director of Marketing at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, after having recently served as Acting Associate Vice President, Communications and Marketing. A long-time employee at Dalhousie, she was instrumental in leading the university through its brand development in 2003 and has served as brand manager since that time. Dalhousie’s recruitment marketing campaigns have received numerous CASE District 1, CASE Circle of Excellence and CCAE Prix d’Excellence Awards. She holds a black belt in Shotokai karate, is an avid runner and remains in search of the world’s best chocolate.

David Eccles



David EcclesBased in Edinburgh, Scotland David Eccles works as a marketing consultant in his design and marketing consultancy Lunaria. His experience is gained from working across a range of sectors. David provides a strong focus on brand development, creative direction and carries this through to the delivery of campaigns across advertising, print, online, digital and events.

One of his current projects is on a pro bono basis with a secondary school in Edinburgh. This is being delivered through consultation, mentoring, art direction and technical development with pupils. In addition, this supports the African Interest Group in order to create a website to raise awareness of their work with primary schools in Uganda.

Recently he has completed a project with a higher education institution to increase external engagement and use of one of its significant academic collections of historical musical instruments.

David worked at the University of Edinburgh for 10 years, building and extending the brand proposition across marketing communications, PR, events and other media. Delivering campaigns to create consensus and awareness of the range of University activities within a variety of stakeholder groups and key target audiences.

Completing his MBA in 1999, with a dissertation on “Corporate Branding within the Context of Higher Education”, David moved to consulting work in 2010. He works with clients in the United Kingdom and is currently EMG’s European Liaison.

Richard J. Semenik, Ph.D.

Professor of Marketing

Montana State University

Richard SemenikRichard Semenik is Professor of Marketing and formerly Dean of the College of Business (2000-2008) at Montana State University. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1970, an M.B.A from Michigan State University in 1971, and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in Marketing in 1976. Dr. Semenik has published 14 books and over 50 articles marketing, advertising, and branding topics. His most recent co-authored book, Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion, 6th Edition is one of the leading advertising books in the world and has been adopted at 500 universities in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, and Europe.

Professor Semenik teaches courses in marketing research, introductory marketing and promotion. He consults with both small organizations and multi-national corporations in the areas of branding, advertising and corporate strategy. He has provided services for IBM, KIA, Mercedes, BayerAG, SFX Entertainment, Ethos Marketing Research, FreeChart.com, Premier Resorts, Harris & Love Advertising, the Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam), the Breakers Resort, and for InfoGears, PrintingForLess.com, S2 Corporation, and LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals in Montana. In addition, he has given speeches and seminars on branding, advertising and corporate strategy in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico, and Italy.

Dr. Semenik was the founding Director of the Montana State University College of Business Entrepreneurship Program and Center for Entrepreneurship for the New West. The program was ranked as one of the Top 10 Entrepreneurship Emphasis Programs in the United States in 2004 and 2005 by Entrepreneur Magazine. He co-founded the Bridger Private Capital Angel Investor Network in Montana in 2002. In 2005, he was named Montana Educator of the Year by the Montana Ambassadors of the Governor’s office. He recently served as Director of the College of Business Management Institute Executive Education Series.

Mallory Wood

Assistant Director of Marketing

Saint Michael’s College

Mallory WoodMallory Wood is an Assistant Director of Marketing and the Social Media Strategist at Saint Michael’s College located in Burlington, VT. She transitioned to this position after working as an Admission Counselor for two years to focus on developing the college’s Web 2.0 presence.

Mallory provides training and support for all campus social media users, creates web video, and directly manages social media for the Office of Admission. Mallory educates and supervises the “SMC Bloggers” and student interns to effectively engage future students on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Formspring, VYou, Blogger, and Ning.

Mallory also works at The BCA Center as an event coordinator and advises in social media. Mallory has 6 years of event experience.

Travis Brock

Director of Business Development

Educational Marketing Group, Inc.

Travis has more than eight years of marketing, social media, communications, and research experience in the higher education arena. Travis directs the EMG Academy and International Brand Master Award committee. He currently writes for and edits EMG’s Brand Manager’s Notebook (blog), Brand Bounce eNewsletter as well as updates and maintains EMG’s social media presence. As EMG’s research assistant and then as manager of research, he developed and implemented marketing research and brand analyses for more than 20 colleges and universities throughout North America. Methodologies have included secondary research, online qualitative studies, web analyses, quantitative surveys, and focus groups. He graduated with honors from the University of New Mexico with a BBA in Marketing and an MBA in Policy and Planning, and has received numerous honors for his academic achievements. Travis has also worked in a leadership capacity in customer service, creative development, and research in a variety of sectors including merchandising, food service, and education.