Planning for Big Things: Making an Initiative a Reality

We’ve all seen university initiatives that don’t stick. Invent Penn State (IPS) didn’t want to be one of them. Its goal was to grow and support partnerships between industry, entrepreneurs, students, and researchers. It was crucial to the success of the university, supporting not only recruitment but also industry relationships, development, and economic growth across the state. It was a big deal, and it had to grow appropriately.

From the early days when the initiative was just one (extremely dedicated) employee and a logo, we provided strategic consulting that helped the initiative blossom into the state-wide brand it is today. You’ve got to know where you’re headed in order to get there. We have helped IPS define, and continuously refine, their strategic direction through years of growth and change.

Project Goals


Defined audiences and goals

IPS has the attention of a lot of audiences. But they couldn’t talk to all of them at once, or give them all the same message. Together, we worked to clearly understand each audience, what they needed to hear, and how to reach them.


Clear priorities and growth path

How could the initiative start from nothing and achieve such ambitious goals? We had to map out a plan that took one thing at a time, growing through specific and measurable steps.


A clear, usable, and polished brand

A brand is more than a logo, and IPS needed help with both. Their brand had to be elevated within the brand noise at the University, and it needed to mesh higher-ed and industry content and storytelling.


Ongoing support to refine strategy

Finally, IPS needed a partner to grow with them. What worked on day one would not work a few years in. They needed a partner who could recognize that, pivot, and plan for growth.


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How do you get to know something that doesn’t exist? You understand the landscape it’s stepping into and the goals of the stakeholders. Our early work with IPS did just this, benchmarking industry-relationship groups at other universities to learn who they were talking to, and how. Capturing these insights in an extensive report helped IPS define the role it wanted to fill. At the same time, we worked with university stakeholders to understand what the IPS initiative meant for them. We came to an understanding of the initiative’s audiences: which were most important, how we’d reach each one, and what they needed to hear in order to engage. Armed with this information, the initiative was ready to launch, strategically.


Once we knew where IPS was headed, we worked closely with their team to develop a roadmap of how to get there. And, that process hasn’t stopped in the five-plus years they’ve been our client. Strategic partnership involves regular reassessment and planning, and we’ve had their back through it all. For us and IPS, that takes the form of regular strategic conversations, as well as occasional deep-dives to map out a longer-term plan, connecting the dots between what they want to do/create and why it matters.


When IPS came to us, they already had a preliminary logo. What they didn’t have was a refined version of that logo or a clear understanding of how their visual identity would fit into the others at the university. We tweaked the logo and created versions to ensure it would be successful on the web, in print, and in other contexts. And, we did the impossible: through extensive cooperation with the central communication group at the university, we defined brand guidelines and hierarchies to clarify how the IPS brand would be used with the Penn State brand, the logos of individual offices, and the many sub-brands that have been created since. It’s not easy to figure that out — but the end result looks clean and clear, and navigates the sometimes sticky political landscape of the university world. A solid win.

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Awards and Recognition
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2018 CP2 Bracket Award

Category: Collateral Direct Mail

Despite living in the digital age, there is just something about receiving a piece of physical mail. The holiday season is a natural time to send out cards, to say hello to those you see every day, and also as a courteous check-in to those you don’t. When Invent Penn State wanted a holiday card we knew this project could be a home run. Invent Penn State allowed us to run with our imagination and the result was a beautiful letter-pressed holiday card that stood out from the pack of holiday cards.

CP Squared logo

2016 CP2 Bracket Award

Category: Website

Every website build is unique and presents challenges, However, one thing that never changes is the immense sense of accomplishment when one is finished, Invent Penn State was no different. The team at Invent Penn State needed a website to showcase their wins. The tricky part was how quickly they were receiving wins! A customized website that is extremely user-friendly allowed for their team to nimbly update the website. Oh, and add in three filterable navigators for prospects to filter through resources. Just another day!