The University of Denver is testing favorability of the term “Pioneers” as part of a 2020 brand reputation study.
This is believed to be the very first time that the University has included its own 95-year-old nickname as part of brand testing. It is also interesting that this testing is being carried out in the summer months, during a pandemic and during a time of racial conflict in the country. It’s also not clear who is receiving the survey. Some DU alumni have received it while others have not, and we’re not yet clear on what other audiences are being surveyed as well.
Respondents to the survey are asked to first weigh-in on a battery of positive and negative attributes that might be associated with the brand personality of DU, before being asked the specific question: How favorably do you view the term “Pioneers” as it relates to the University of Denver?
There are five options to select from for that question, ranging from “Extremely unfavorably” to “Extremely favorably”. Next, there is an open text box where respondents are asked to “explain” their answer, once they select one of the five favorability choices.
While brand studies are routine for universities every 7-10 years (DU did its last one in 2012), the University is clearly mulling the future of the term. The favorability scale allows the University to claim they know where respondents stand. However, the unusual timing of the survey, the availability of a “neutral” response, the fact that surveys are being sent only to select alumni, as well as the likelihood that it is also being sent to other audiences will give the University-wide latitude to put its proverbial thumb on the scale in interpreting and presenting the results.
While we don’t know what DU leadership will do with the results of this survey, we remind them of the promise that Chancellor Robert Coombe made to the DU community in 2008, when he declared in his open letter to the DU Community that “One thing is certain — We [DU] will always be the Pioneers.”