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Are you mixing the UO brand’s six tone words correctly?

Do you even know what they are? Do you care? Well, our well-paid strategic communicators do:

Perhaps you need some brand standards training:


  1. Anonymous 05/20/2020

    Ah yes, Tone Mixing, I guess these consultants must have been
    invented this, since it has never been used in literature before, like

    Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.
    –Victor Frankenstein

  2. Extra Ordinary Otter 05/20/2020

    Tone word – Extraordinary: “Simply put, there is nothing that we don’t do well here. Which is uncommon. And something that we must be comfortable touting…”

    Whoaaa!! Who knew??!! From now on I’ll fluffing my otter fur up and holding my head a little higher…and… I’m going to tout! Would have started earlier, but I had no idea….

    I heard down at the abalone bar that they spent $100k or so on this crap. Can anyone confirm?

    • uomatters Post author | 05/20/2020

      I’m just an economist, so I assume that our $278,168 a year VP for Communications Kyle Henley wouldn’t spend $16,666.67 for a tone word unless that’s the market price.
      That said, perhaps this blog’s commenters would be willing to contribute some more appropriate brand tone words to Kyle? I’ve got a roll of Charmin 2-ply for the top six suggestions.

  3. CasualObservation 05/21/2020

    FWIW these are from the 160over90 rebrand several years back that Connie Ballmer paid for. So technically I guess they were a couple million? I forget how much that contract was for, or at least the part of it that we spent before Schill cancelled it.

    • uomatters Post author | 05/21/2020

      Ah yes, from the RG:
      “We can’t spend $3 million more intelligently than this,” Chuck Lillis, president of the UO Board of Trustees, gushed in praise of 160over90′s work for the UO. Then, on Jan. 14, The Register-Guard reported Schill had pulled the plug. Enough was enough. Money saved would be redirected. “There’s a vast redundancy, waste” at the UO, Schill told the The Register-Guard.

  4. Even though this is old, it’s still sad to see the focus on vapid marketing. But, I thought, we can’t be unique in this, or even in the use of “tone words.” I spent a few minutes searching and found several similar university sites.

    If you’d like to add to the list, go for it:

    Bonus points for adding other AAU universities.

    So far “purposeful” is the word that comes up the most. (3 of 8 schools.) I wonder if the ad agencies charge extra for unique words?

    • Townie 05/21/2020

      Flagship universities shouldn’t reduce themselves to this nonsense…

      This is coming from a guy who concentrated in marketing!

      • Dog 05/21/2020

        I think this institution chose, long ago, not to be a University but
        instead, something else ; what exactly that something else is I don;t know and is certain open for debate. Wait, debate, isn’t that something they teach at a University – nope, not ours …

        • charlie 05/22/2020

          If you take em at their word, they’re now the University of Nike. I believe ’em, I suggest everyone else do the same…

        • Vicky Verus 05/22/2020

          We need debate! Extraordinarily alive, natural, progressive, irreverent, inclusive and teacher-engaged debate! Attendance not required! Continuity forever! Go Duckdemics!

    • The list is up to 15 universities! The oddest word so far, in my opinion, is “clarifying.”
      I’ll try to summarize later, or make a quiz!
      I just realized, by the way, that searching for “tonal words university” rather than “tone words” gives another set of schools.

      • uomatters Post author | 05/23/2020


  5. heraclitus 05/24/2020

    OK, I knew something was missing here, finally figured it out. I hereby claim my millions of dollars for this work:

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