University community celebrates CU in the City

Students, faculty, alumni and staff fill Tivoli Turnhalle to help launch CU Denver’s new brand

February 21, 2017
CU Denver students with merchandise
Students pose with CU in the City merchandise during the brand launch event.

A new era for the University of Colorado Denver has begun, and sophomore Daisy Villicana is excited to be part of it.

Villicana, a student in the School of Education & Human Development (SEHD), was one of about 750 attendees who filled the Tivoli Student Union’s Turnhalle on Monday to kick off CU Denver’s new CU in the City brand campaign. CU in the City celebrates the high-quality education CU Denver offers students in the heart of Denver at Colorado’s only public urban research university.

The turnout showed the new brand already resonates with the CU Denver community. Villicana was one of the students at the front of a line that snaked through the Tivoli, waiting to get into the launch event. She thinks the new brand captures what it’s like to be a current CU Denver student and will appeal to prospective students.

“I love it. I really think it captures our whole community. It’s like bringing downtown Denver together with CU Denver,” Villicana said about CU in the City. “I’m very proud to say I’m a CU Denver student.”

A vision beyond a brand

The launch party got the brand off to a lively start, with students posing in a social media photo booth and taking pictures with CU Denver’s mascot Milo the Lynx. Guests clutched T-shirts with the new CU in the City logo and munched on burritos and kebabs as DJ Wildcard (aka William Card, a student in the College of Arts & Media) worked the stage in front of a backdrop of Denver’s skyline.

Chancellor Dorothy Horrell told the audience her meetings with the university community helped inspire and shape the campaign.

“Folks are very proud of what happens here, and they’re very proud of our student body, which mirrors the diversity of our community,” Horrell said. “We draw on the energy of Denver itself. The city really is our campus and informs who we are.”

The new brand emphasizes the connection to Denver, student success, and the range and importance of CU Denver’s research. Capturing those elements was vital, Horrell said.

“We need to be able to say very clearly and very succinctly who we are, why we matter, and what we are really good at,” Horrell said. “CU in the City really says it all, doesn’t it?”

The emphasis on student diversity and connecting with the community pleased Carlos Hipolito-Delgado, an SEHD professor who attended and is featured in the CU in City campaign.

Students in social media photo booth
Guests pose in the social media photo booth.

“I think we need to bring attention back to the fact that we’re part of this community,” Hipolito-Delgado said. “This is an excellent way of repositioning ourselves and letting students know they’ll be represented on our campus.”

Students, faculty and alumni become stars

An advertising campaign is part of the new brand launch and will make sure Coloradans and even visitors know more about CU Denver’s purpose and achievements, said Vice Chancellor of University Communications Leanna Clark.

Television, radio, print and online advertisements, banners throughout downtown, and an installation at Denver International Airport will spread CU Denver’s message. More than 40 students, alumni and faculty appear in the campaign to promote the university and tell their success stories. Many others contributed ideas that helped University Communications and advertising agency Karsh Hagen shape the brand, Clark said.

The crowd eagerly awaited a chance to see the 30-second TV ad. The music track for the TV spot features CU Denver a cappella group Lark and CU Denver alumnus DJ Chonz. Shawn King of DeVotchKa composed and produced the track, with Ben Wysocki of The Fray helping to co-produce the recording session.

Chancellor Dorothy Horrell and CU Denver student Casey Burnett
Chancellor Dorothy Horrell chats with Casey Burnett,  a senior in the College of Architecture and Planning and appears in the brand’s advertising campaign.

College of Architecture and Planning senior Casey Burnett appears in the television and other ads. He jumped at the chance to contribute.

“I think it’s a great time to be at CU Denver. A lot of great things are going on,” Burnett said. “It’s not just about being a university, it’s about giving back to the community and making sure we have a positive impact on Denver.”

The audience cheered the ad. Shannon Copeland, a transfer student working on her second degree, said she’s excited her university is on TV.

“I like it,” Copeland said. “I think it puts us out there and distinguishes CU Denver. It brings out the sense of community and diversity.”

Students, alumni and faculty can continue to help by embracing the campaign, sharing their success stories and becoming brand champions, Horrell said.