• csun

Messaging Guidelines

Positioning

OVERVIEW

CSUN’s key message is very important to its identity and should be the backbone of every marketing message or piece of collateral. All copy, design elements, photography and layout should harken back to this main idea:

Through CSUN we all rise.

At CSUN, every day is a success story. Filled with resilience and pride. A sense of never settling for satisfactory. We celebrate the inner spirit and self empowered individuals. Because the ones motivated by an urge to impact their own lives as well as their surrounding communities are the reason we’ve effected change in our region. This is where more than 100 languages are spoken, but no one understands the word “can’t.” Our hard-working and dedicated faculty and staff believe “Whatever it takes” is a state of mind — not a tactic. Because we believe leaving a mark means leaving no one behind. CSUN provides more than a work force — we are a force of work. Those who in advancing themselves, elevate us all.

If the tone of our public-facing communications is not authentic, we’ll lose the audience. If it’s generic, complicated or uninteresting — we lose them. So it’s critically important that our “voice” not only captures and complements our personality — elevating, multifaceted, catalytic, resilient, integral and genuine — but gives us a way to grab and keep their attention.

Our brand voice:
A balance of empowering, bold, straightforward and informative. It can be anthem-like. “Academic athleticism” is a good way to think about it.

For CSUN, we’ve identified six distinct characteristics that make up who we are:

Elevating

Multifaceted

Catalytic

Resilient

Integral

Genuine


GENERAL TONE

This tone is designed to flex for different audiences. For example, when speaking to the regional business community, turn up “elevating” and “integral.” However, for prospective students the tone and style should perhaps be catalytic (empowering) and genuine (thoughtful).

How you use these tonal qualities should vary from piece to piece. Sometimes radically. Especially between typically tighter, more concise advertising messaging and long-form or informational marketing content. Think of each quality as a lever on an equalizer. Adjust the levels of individual values up or down depending on the context or audience.

REGIONAL BUSINESS COMMUNITY

Regional Business Community


When communicating with donors or the external community, copy tone should evoke a community feel especially when those donors are alumni. The tone is elevating, catalytic, genuine and shares the variety of ways that donors and the community are partners in student success.



PROSPECTIVE UNDERGRADUATE COMMUNITY

Prospective Undergraduate Community Guidelines


When communicating with students, marketing and editorial copy should be fresh, fun, inclusive and genuine. Today’s Matadors want to know how they can impact their university, what’s possible on this vibrant campus and their vital role as future CSUN alumni.

Copy Tone

The tone of marketing and editorial copy used in CSUN media and communications materials is professional and adheres to the highest journalistic standards. Avoid academic jargon and speak to readers in a clear, concise tone. The voice of CSUN is confident, warm, welcoming and inclusive.

  • The Marketing and Communications department follows the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style), with additional style guidelines unique to the university and its departments. The AP Style guide is available at apstylebook.com.
  • CSUN Style Guide outlines where marketing and editorial copy varies from AP Style. This guide covers issues that frequently crop up at the university, including names of academic departments, names of colleges, alumni designations and campus building names. For more information, please contact the Marketing & Communications Department.
  • When communicating with donors or the external community, copy tone should evoke a community feel — especially when those donors are alumni. The tone is elevating, catalytic, genuine and shares the variety of ways that donors and the community are partners in student success.
  • When communicating with students, marketing and editorial copy should be fresh, fun, inclusive and genuine. Today’s Matadors want to know how they can impact their university, what’s possible on this vibrant campus and their vital role as future CSUN alumni.

Copy Tone - Headlines

HEADLINES

Headlines are a string of words so interesting that they grab people’s attention immediately and get them to commit to reading more. It’s a good trick. And an important one to master. Because no matter how compelling your story is, if the headline doesn’t entice the reader, everything else will go unread.

Often what bogs down a good headline is trying to cram too much information in it. The best headlines are fairly simple and convey a single key idea. While they may contain irony, humor, drama, human truth or a combination of ingredients, a good headline should really have only one twist. One clever play that draws the reader in and leaves them wanting to know more.

For example, consider these headlines about CSUN’s engineering alumni:

WE’RE BOEING’S MOST POWERFUL ENGINE
VS.
A LARGE PART OF BOEING’S STAFF ARE CSUN GRADUATES.


Or consider the following headlines directed toward donors:

YOU INVEST IN US. AND THEY INVEST IN US ALL.
– VS. –
IF YOU’D LIKE TO HELP CSUN, PLEASE DONATE.

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to catch your attention, but when it comes to headlines, a little finessing makes a big difference.

This is where our voice really comes to life. Where we can make specific adjustments to our tone and style, adapt our voice to content and make a case for why people should become emotionally invested in CSUN. But this is also where we are most likely to lose someone, unless we remain vigilant about being elevating, multifaceted, catalytic, resilient, integral and genuine. And not just one of these things at a time—many or all of them at once.

Copy Tone - Long Form

LONG FORM

Long form is where the copy can go into more depth with stories of students, faculty or alumni who are elevating the region. It allows us to truly tell engaging stories of success and the impact of a CSUN education. It is also where the tone and style can flex the most. Again, how you use these tones can vary depending on your audience. Think of it like a set of volume controls.

When speaking to our business community and donors, the tone and style should be more elevating, catalytic and integral.

CSUN's Copy Tone Guidlines

When writing for a general audience or undergraduate, the tone and style should be at its most elevating, catalytic and genuine.

See how the tone can flex in the following two examples:

Business Community:


THE BUSINESS OF PERSONAL

2014 added 10,000 more CSUN alumni to the region. A community of community leaders, a spreadsheet of CEOs and more credentialed teachers than all the UC system combined — a population of those who will teach ours. This is where their success stories began. And where 40,000 more begin every year.

GENERAL PUBLIC:


If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
Keep climbing.
Keep upping yourself.
Because the heavier the challenges the loftier the rise.
Get to where you’re going.
Elevating everyone each step of the way.
Make every day your success story.

Editorial

The tone of marketing and editorial copy used in CSUN media and communications materials is professional and adheres to the highest journalistic standards. Avoid academic jargon and speak to readers in a clear, concise tone. The voice of CSUN is confident, warm, welcoming and inclusive.

  • The Marketing and Communications department follows the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style), with additional style guidelines unique to the university and its departments. The AP Style guide is available at apstylebook.com.
  • CSUN Style Guide outlines where marketing and editorial copy varies from AP Style. This guide covers issues that frequently crop up at the university, including names of academic departments, names of colleges, alumni designations and campus building names. For more information, please contact the Marketing & Communications Department.