“Who do we look to, to shape our world?
It will be people who know how to think with their heads and their hearts.
People who contribute with compassion, courage, confidence.
People who understand that faith is not the enemy of education, but its partner.”
From OBU’s “We Are Future Shapers” TV ad
Defining a brand. It isn’t something that is decided upon and created. Rather, it is something that, through diligence, research, introspection and examination, may be revealed, in order to best communicate the essence of a product or institution with its target audience.
In early spring 2020, OBU embarked on a mission to develop a fresh way to share our story with the world through reexamining and redefining our brand. The University’s marketing and communications team led the charge, seeking the best way in which to distinguish this University from its peers, while conveying the power of an OBU education and the nature of the OBU experience to prospective students and the world at large.
Presenting OBU in a new, compellingly distinct, yet authentic manner required an examination of the university’s founding mission. This endeavor takes one back to the beginning, to an annual meeting of Oklahoma Baptists over 110 years ago. It was here that OBU’s founders determined the great need of their day was to provide a distinctively Christian higher education; one that would shape the hearts and minds of the next generation so they might serve their world, strengthen the church and lead our communities.
Those pioneers of the future invested in this new university to educate men and women under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. According to the OBU charter, university founders envisioned OBU students who would be equipped in “all the branches of advanced learning,” including literature, law, medicine, music, technology, theology, science, fine arts, and various branches of professional and technical education.1 These founders were forward-thinking visionaries who recognized the uncompromising necessity for Christian education that would raise up generations of leaders for the glory of God and the good of the world.
The great need for OBU, first conceived by these pioneers in the early years of the 20th century, remains just as compelling now as we venture forward in the 21st century. As in the days of our founding, the moment of OBU has come once again: we are called to equip leaders who rise to the challenges of their day, face adversity with courage and impact their world for the glory of Jesus Christ in every sphere of life.
Embracing our founding charter, we gathered additional information about the OBU experience through a series of discovery meetings with alumni, students, faculty and staff; surveys of prospective students and their parents; and competitor comparison and analysis.
From our research of OBU’s history and the experiences of our students, employees, alumni and friends, we developed our brand promise:
Oklahoma Baptist University’s faith-forward education prepares the hearts and minds of students so they can engage with purpose and live well in God’s world.
We also verified through these discovery meetings and survey findings that we are in fact fulfilling our brand promise as we equip the next generation of future shapers who are prepared to transform the world around them with compassion, courage and confidence. We ascertained that yes, indeed, OBU’s unapologetically, faith-forward approach to higher education exposes students to broad perspectives while guiding them in biblical traditions so they receive a transformative education rooted in Christ.
Out of this process came the “We Are Future Shapers” branding campaign. You may have seen it on our website, in the admissions viewbook, on banners around campus, or in an ad on TV or online. This campaign captures the essence of what it means to be a student at OBU, where high academic expectations are met with supportive faculty, who stand together with our students as they prepare them for the obstacles they’ll face in future years. It demonstrates the compelling need students have for the kind of education found only at OBU, an education which helps them become not just book smart, not just business smart, but wise in their whole being, in their devotion to God and to others.
The “We Are Future Shapers” campaign demonstrates how OBU students are connected to each other, as well as to faculty and staff, in personal and lasting ways, all while being part of a much bigger calling. It powerfully communicates that the kind of personal, intellectual and spiritual transformation ignited at OBU continues for a lifetime as graduates use their individual gifts and skills answering the call to serve the world within their chosen fields as they shape the future for God and for good.
1 Uncle Jimmy Owens, The Annals of O.B.U. (Shawnee, OK: The Bison Press/Historical Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, 1956), p. 33.