University of Wisconsin-River Falls Rebrand

Energized rebrand creates a 30% increase in first-year students

Part of the prestigious University of Wisconsin System, UW-River Falls has always been famous for its STEM programs, experiential learning and tightly knit community. But the college wasn’t ready to rest on its laurels, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to cause seismic shifts for higher education institutions. KW2 helped UWRF bring their every aspect of their brand —from story to style guide—into sync with the changing world. 


KW2 got to work, conducting interviews and surveys with more than 1,000 students, alums, staff and community partners. Participants’ experiences with and perceptions of UW-River Falls revealed a gap between the down-to-earth brand UWRF had built and the heroic way Falcons saw themselves. Our researchers tested these findings in a series of moderated focus groups, and soon a core message for the college’s revitalized brand emerged: UWRF is a place where everyone can take risks—and take advantage of eye-opening opportunities.


With the promise of opportunity as our focus, KW2 and the UW-River Falls brand team met weekly to develop a heroic new message strategy and updated brand tools, create a flexible identity system—inspired by new, dynamic UWRF logo—that reflects the revitalized brand, and plan an extensive launch. We kicked it all off in the fall of 2022 with a high-energy brand video, reimagined recruitment ads, and a campus-wide reveal. Finally, we delivered a 100-page brand guide and even held an internal writing workshop to help their campus-wide content creators protect the new brand’s integrity.


The brand launch was met with a literal standing ovation—and exciting preliminary results for UWRF. Admitted first-year students have increased by 30% over the previous year, and an increase in students from Minnesota reflects the college’s concentrated marketing efforts. Transfer student numbers have also increased by 17%, and housing contracts are up 20% for the fall of 2023—a strong indicator of student commitment. 

"I am proud of the strong traditions and rich history of UW–River Falls, but I am even more excited about our future. This rebrand represents that bright future, as well as the determination of our Falcons to build the future they want."   

Maria Gallo, Chancellor, UW-River Falls

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