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Gen-Z is leaving the nest. Many have headed off to college, leaving university administrators wondering: what makes Gen-Z tick?

This is part one of a two-part editorial. Click here to read part two, Out of the Classroom.

The University of Cincinnati asked us to dig deep into the hearts, minds and desires of Gen-Zers to discover who they are, what they crave and how they approach education.

We found out this independent, entrepreneurial bunch wants a college experience tailored to their unique interests, and they want to learn by doing, not just reading and listening. But they also want to be smart about it. Fiscally conservative, they’re laser-focused on return on investment (ROI), a good job and a competitive edge in landing it.

“The insights we gained from LPK’s culture scan couldn’t have been more perfect for the University of Cincinnati,” said Nicola Ziady, assistant vice president for marketing and digital communications at the university. “Together, we decided it was time to re-establish our role as an innovator in experiential education as a true point of difference.”

Key competitors had been encroaching on that territory, but as the global birthplace of cooperative education, with more than 5,000 students placed annually and 94% of co-ops graduating with job offers, the University of Cincinnati had a right to own it—claiming its place as the unparalleled leader in experience-based learning.

Working with representatives of the university’s 44,000+ students, nearly 10,000 employees and 285,000 alumni, we validated that insight and uncovered a few other things that make the University of Cincinnati unique, from its ROI to its vibrant urban setting and diverse campus.

Then we translated it all into an inspiring brand story, one that invites students to push out the edges of their own education and clearly shows them that learning is different at the University of Cincinnati. Not just because the University of Cincinnati originated the idea of experiential education, but because it continues to innovate beyond traditional approaches to hands-on learning, evolving education with culture and allowing the next generation of students to learn on their terms.


“To amplify that message, we’re working closely with university leadership, faculty and staff to create a brand experience that is simple for audiences to understand and easy for employees to put into practice,” said LPK Group Director Matt Fearn. “And as their strategic partner, we’ll continue to help them evolve that experience to make sure the university remains current and competitive for generations to come.”

One of the first manifestations of the new brand was the university’s “Do More” institutional spot, a collaboration of LPKLEAPframe and Sound Images that premiered during NBC’s broadcast of the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony:

Stay tuned for more on how the revitalized positioning is coming to life visually and verbally across the campus and beyond.

Interested in learning more about our Gen-Z culture scan? Check out the article in the September issue of UC Magazine.