Audiences, Voice & Tone

Storytelling for Our Audiences

We tell stories to educate, inspire, engage and move people to action. By sharing authentic stories about Mizzou’s faculty, staff, students and alumni, we can communicate facts and figures and build an emotional connection with our audiences. It is this emotional connection that elevates Mizzou’s brand and reputation.

Jump to: Storytelling | Our Audiences


What makes a story memorable?

Facts alone don’t drive audiences to act. It’s our responsibility to motivate and inspire our audiences through emotive stories about real people with real interests, goals and feelings. They should be delivered through clear and consistent messaging.

To craft a memorable story, you need to have :

  1. A fact (or topic) you want to communicate.
  2. A value consistent with your brand personality.
  3. A tone appropriate for your audience.

Once you have those three things, you can apply Mizzou’s key messaging storylines to shape the story.

Remember: each personality has a distinct storyline and dimensions that help express key values of the Mizzou brand. Review the key messaging storylines here: Narrative & Key Messaging Storylines

If you’re a visual learner, here’s a helpful formula to get you started on the right path:

[Fact/topic/differentiator] + [Value expressed in storyline] = [Emotive story]

Another way to approach this is to begin with the fact and then ask yourself, “So what? Why should my audience care? How does this fact relate to Mizzou’s larger story?”

The values expressed in Mizzou’s key messaging storylines are a great starting point to answer this question. This “so what?” factor — the value — combined with the fact, leads you to the emotive story.


Fact: Mizzou is a Research 1 insitutuion
Remember: subject matter does not equal expression. Any fact or message should be communicated through one or more of Mizzou’s key messaging storylines. It’s about creating an authentic story built on the values central to the Mizzou brand.

Key StorylineValue/So What?Story
Groundbreaking InnovatorMizzou values originality. Our researchers take on the problems others avoid.At Mizzou, we’re not afraid to be first. We take on the problems others avoid, meeting challenges with curiosity and ingenuity. And our bold approach has earned us the prestigious designation of Research 1 institution.
Championing LeaderMizzou values inspiration. Our approach inspires every member of the Mizzou community to be at their best.We’re a Research 1 institution and we wear the title with pride. Because, at Mizzou, we inspire our researchers to achieve the never-before-seen. The never-before-imagined. We offer unparalleled resources and unwavering support, so our people can accomplish anything.
Unflinching InvestigatorMizzou values energetic curiosity. Our researchers never stop asking questions and searching for better answers.There’s always a better way to do things. And we’ll be the ones to find it. Because at Mizzou, inquiry never stops. We’re always on a quest to find new approaches that produce better results. That’s why we were named a Research 1 institution — Mizzou is home to all things new and improved.

Our Audiences

When writing in Mizzou’s voice, we need to consider the audience — their goals, interests and expectations. These considerations affect not only what we say but also how we say it.

For each audience, we have guidelines and sample copy for:

  • Tone
    how we speak to each audience.
  • Themes
    what we’re saying — these are high-level topics for each audience.
  • Channels
    where we’re speaking to the audience — whether it’s in an email, a social media post, a landing page or elsewhere.

Jump to: Prospective Students | Current Mizzou Community | External Audiences

Prospective Students

Prospective students value inspiration and security. Create optimistic and empowering messages about their potential and show how Mizzou can help them achieve their goals. To connect with this audience, highlight Mizzou’s research opportunities, high-impact experiences and powerful career preparation.

Tone and Style Guidelines

  • Stay optimistic. Energize prospective students with empowering messages about their future success and the possibilities that await them at Mizzou.
  • Be clear and concise. Write clear copy that communicates your message quickly. Concise, creative messages keep your audience engaged.
  • Have fun with it. Prospective students see a lot of the same messages. Don’t be afraid to infuse playfulness and energy into your copy. Tell stories that inspire curiosity and wonder.

Examples by Theme

Theme: Research Opportunities

Key Messaging Storyline: Groundbreaking Innovator

Messaging: A better future begins with fresh ideas. At Mizzou, we’ll inspire you to explore across disciplines and beyond boundaries. You can test your theories, expand your perspective and unleash solutions that improve lives everywhere. And you’ll do it all alongside professionals just as curious as you.

Theme: Campus Life

Key Messaging Storyline: Unflinching Investigator

At Mizzou, you’ll have life-shaping experiences beyond those on your resumé. You can embrace long-standing traditions, discover new skills and forge connections that strengthen your passion. Don’t stop at “I wonder.” Find your purpose — one event, game or conference at a time.

Theme: Outcomes

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader

At Mizzou, excellence is about more than setting the standard — it’s about challenging you to see beyond the standard. We’ll connect you with the best professional experiences and mentors so you can join the long list of Mizzou alumni who have made the standard approach a thing of the past.

Theme: Value

Key Messaging Storyline: Unflinching Investigator/Championing Leader

The true value of a Mizzou education can’t be measured in course credits or GPA. It’s measured in experiences — the projects, conversations and ideas that will ignite your passion, hone your skills and strengthen your resolve to succeed. That’s why U.S. News & World Report named Mizzou the #1 Best Value university among eight neighboring states and all other SEC schools.

View Prospective Student Examples by Channel

Current Mizzou Community

Internal communication is as important as our external efforts. Faculty and staff at Mizzou want to know how Mizzou helps them achieve their goals and further their careers. To connect with this audience, inspire faculty and staff to take advantage of available resources. Highlight research opportunities, campus events, peer accomplishments and student support.

Tone and Style Guidelines

  • Speak our shared language. We are a community. Highlight Mizzou’s traditions, opportunities, favorite places and more.
  • Keep it casual. Because faculty and staff already know Mizzou’s value, we don’t need to persuade them with sales pitches. Faculty and staff will respond better to straightforward, informative messages that help them understand how Mizzou helps them achieve their next goal.
  • Embrace the Tiger pride. Evoke pride in Mizzou’s values: respect, responsibility, excellence and discovery. These are the qualities that make a Tiger. Celebrate our shared commitment to these values.

Examples by Theme

Theme: Research Opportunities

Key Messaging Storyline: Groundbreaking Innovator

Messaging: Mizzou is one of the nation’s leading research institutions, and we owe it all to passionate, curious, innovative thinkers like you. You can bring your ideas to life, uncover deeper questions and collaborate with the leading minds in every industry and field.

Theme: Campus Life

Key Messaging Storyline: Unflinching Investigator

Are you ready to build a network of peers and explore everything Mizzou has to offer? Connect with colleagues from different disciplines at one of our socials, or enjoy live performances at our campus-wide events. Discover new traditions and opportunities beyond our SEC fame.

Theme: Professional Development

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader

We offer world-class professional development opportunities that will empower you to take on the problems other researchers avoid. Our resources range from short, self-paced modules to one-on-one coaching and intensive multi-year programs. Attend our workshops to learn more about securing funding, planning an evaluation, developing a logic model, grant writing and more.

Theme: Student Support

Key Messaging Storyline: Unflinching Investigator/Championing Leader

At Mizzou, we’re not just responsible for today’s breakthroughs. We inspire the next generation of breakthroughs. We change the future of our disciplines and our world by ensuring our students succeed. Explore our Student Success Message Toolkits to help students turn their curiosity into a career path, find their place on campus and take advantage of all of the world-class resources available to them at Mizzou.

View Current Mizzou Community Examples by Channel

External Audiences

This includes alumni, potential donors, prospective faculty, the media and the general public. Although these groups have different characteristics, they share a common interest: Mizzou’s reputation. Focus your messaging on the approach, values and impact that set Mizzou apart from other institutions. Highlight Mizzou’s unique vision and research initiatives as well as the rankings, impact and success stories they create.

Tone and Style Guidelines

  • Lead with confidence. Mizzou has a long legacy of excellence. Wear it with pride. Lean into the innovation and truth-seeking at the heart of Mizzou’s continued success. State the facts and frame them with stories — without veering into arrogance.
  • Make it personal. Lead with facts and differentiators that appeal to your specific audience, but don’t forget to apply Mizzou’s brand personality in the process. Remember: even though you aren’t speaking to a student, our brand voice is still the same. This audience will respond to emotive, personal messaging that showcases Mizzou’s strengths.
  • Tell them why it matters. Connect everything back to Mizzou’s reputation. Clearly explain how each topic, fact or story demonstrates what Mizzou and its graduates have to offer.

Examples by Theme

Theme: Research

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader/Groundbreaking Innovator

Messaging: At Mizzou, we know real boundary-pushing, life-shaping progress comes from seeing beyond the status quo and beyond the standard approach. Our research knows no bounds, and neither do our solutions. We’re shaping the future across disciplines, across industries and across the world.

Theme: Rankings

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader/Groundbreaking Innovator

We’re a Research 1 institution. One of only 65 AAU universities. At Mizzou, we do more than lead—we invent. We create. And these designations are proof of our vision, our commitment to uniting diverse perspectives to ask unexpected questions and create life-changing solutions.

Theme: Impact

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader/Unflinching Investigator

At Mizzou, our impact starts with our curiosity. Everything we do — from asking questions to solving problems, recruiting industry leaders to exploring new possibilities — we do to make the world a better place. Our discoveries change lives, and our $5 billion impact on the Missouri economy is just one example.

Theme: Alumni Success

Key Messaging Storyline: Championing Leader
Excellence is our longest-standing tradition. And our alumni are proof positive. They’re researchers pursuing new treatments. Journalists pursuing deeper truths. Entrepreneurs pursuing childhood dreams. Their interests are as diverse as their education. But they’re united by their desire to be at their best—in their careers and in their lives.

View External Audience Examples by Channel

Additional Resources

Find brand writing examples and tips to help you craft authentic, meaningful messaging.

The brand messaging playbooks are available to Mizzou employees to download and print. 

Brand Writing Best Practices Brand Messaging Playbooks