A group of new UC Davis students enjoying welcome festivities

Positioning and Messaging

Positioning and Messaging

The positioning statement articulates the conceptual core of our brand and serves as the underpinning for everything we say and do. Working from this fundamental statement, the many areas of the UC Davis enterprise can move forward in their own unique ways, having started from the same place. Our brand essence distills the positioning statement into a succinct, memorable phrase. This is not meant to be a tagline, a slogan or a headline, but rather an internal expression that should be used as a recall device — a mental prompt for starting a conversation. It serves as a gut-check for the decisions we make and the spirit of everything we create.

Positioning Statement

The UC Davis community confronts life’s most urgent challenges and unjust conditions by rallying a team of world-class experts to protect and nourish the lives of Californians and the world.

Brand Essence

Growing for the Global Good

Message Health, Environment, Culture and Society are all 21st-century challenges UC Davis is addressing in a multidisciplinary fashion.

At UC Davis, we know that the complex and multifaceted challenges of the 21st century will not be solved by one discipline or solution alone. They’ll require the coming together of many areas, all working with a shared vision of a better tomorrow. This is what we do best at UC Davis, and we’re applying our strengths in full force to address the issues that affect the quality of life for all.


Human and animal, mental and behavioral health.


The systems and surroundings that support the environment.


Differences and interests that enrich our lives.


Factors that prevent or enable opportunities for people to thrive.

Message map

This diagram, which we call the message map, prioritizes the most important messages for telling our story. It illustrates the relationship between the work we’re doing and the impact of that work, which should always connect to the center of the map: our value proposition.

This diagram, which we call the message map, prioritizes the most important messages for telling our story. It illustrates the relationship between the work we’re doing and the impact of that work, which should always connect to the center of the map: our value proposition.

Messaging pillars

Our work

Health: addressing issues that affect life on earth

Environment: defending and improving our shared surroundings

Culture: encouraging and celebrating things that enrich our lives

Society: fighting for fair and equal access to opportunities

Value proposition

Attributes (what we do): UC Davis confronts life’s most urgent challenges and unjust conditions...

Benefits (why it matters): ... to bring a fuller, healthier and more resilient world within reach.

Our impact

Health: stronger, healthier, and more capable humans and animals

Environment: cleaner, safer, and flourishing systems that support life

Culture: a freer exchange of ideas to drive curiosity and enlightenment

Society: the ability for all to overcome barriers and thrive

How to Use the Message Map

Our message map is a hierarchy for selecting messages, but it’s not the starting point for crafting content. To get the most out of the map, follow these four steps.

Tip: try using the message map to determine the best angle for crafting a feature story. Look for an opportunity to frame the story through the lens of one of the secondary impact messages.

1 Determine your audience and objective.

Identify whom you need to reach before you decide what to say. Be as specific as you can, because people won’t care what you have to say unless you say something that matters to them.

2 Determine the messaging pillar.

Consult the message map to align your topic with a pillar of strength. We want to talk about the work we’re doing at every turn in order to strengthen our position.

3 Determine the impact of our work.

Once you’ve established that your topic aligns with a pillar, you need to identify the corresponding impact. (Note: In most cases, your audience cares more about the impact than the details of the work being done.)

4 Craft your content.

You’ll want to ensure that your content has a focus — say one thing and say it well. Any supporting benefits should act as talking points, complemented by the facts, data and proof points of your topic.


A university of our size serves a complex array of audiences, which we’ve grouped into four high-level segments below. We should consider the needs of each community when we plan our marketing and communication efforts.

Internal audience

Including but not limited to administration, faculty, researchers, clinical staff, academic staff, current students and alumni.


Move forward with confidence and optimism, focusing on the many positive things happening within the UC Davis family.


Including but not limited to prospective students, influencers, high school counselors, community college advisors, professionals, patients, physicians and nurses.


UC Davis is strongly positioned. Adopt a long-term focus on steadily increasing the quality of student.


Including but not limited to alumni, donors, funding partners, grateful patients, grateful clients, campaign volunteers


Work to re-engage distant alumni and then convert pride to action by taking a more visible stance for the tremendous impact UC Davis makes.

Reputation building

Including but not limited to peers and competitors, the general public, referring physicians, faculty networks, government and industry partners.


Invest heavily in boosting the university’s national reputation beyond specific areas of strength, like agriculture and veterinary medicine.

Audience Quadrant

Here, you can see many ways that our visual elements can be assembled to achieve a distinct look and feel within the brand for each of our major audiences.

Each dot in the quadrant graph below represents an audience and its place between two axes: from Subdued to Vibrant and from Casual to Sophisticated.
Audiences are evenly scattered among quadrants of subdued, sophisticated, vibrant and casual.

This graphic places audiences on two axes. The X axis runs from sophisticated at top, to casual, at bottom; the Y axis, left to right, represents subdued to vibrant. Use this tool to visualize where your audience falls when creating a communication.