CU Denver marketing students present their winning branding campaign at State Capitol

CU Denver marketing students, faculty join Gov. Hickenlooper and Anabliss representatives at Capitol

DENVER – A group of creative graduate students in the MS in Marketing program think it’s time local firms stamped “Colorado Born” pride in their business story and trumpeted the state’s many enterprise-friendly virtues through an eye-catching branding campaign.

Today, it caught the eye of Gov. John Hickenlooper, who heard CU Denver Business School students Carley Williams, Michael Benedik, Rachel Goodson and Alena Bowen present their competition-winning state branding concept in the Governor’s Office in the State Capitol.

Their campaign is called “Colorado. Add Some Altitude.” It was so dynamic and comprehensive that it stood out among four student team-produced branding campaigns in Associate Professor Vicki Lane’s Integrated Marketing Communication and Brand Identity class.

“Last fall we were approached by David Thomson (director of Global Business Development for the Colorado Office of Economic Development) with the idea of the class working together but breaking into groups for a competition to create a branding campaign for the state of Colorado,” Lane said. “It’s from the standpoint of creating more of a business-to-business brand, appealing to companies that might want to expand their business here.”

Thomson and representatives from the Denver brand strategy firm Anabliss, which provided pro bono assistance on the project, joined Lane and the students for the 15-minute presentation of their multi-layered campaign.

Thomson said the state is working toward a new branding campaign, with the goal of attracting business to the state, as part of its Colorado Blueprint economic development plan. “We thought let’s engage the students to do some type of competition to see what they can do,” Thomson said. In research into the developing the blueprint, “no one seems to have a consistent message on the (state) brand, so that’s where this has come from.”

The campaign devised by the students — team members Megan Ballweber and Tyghe Boone-Worthman were unable to attend — centered around increasing awareness of Colorado’s business positive business climate, promoting existing businesses, and driving inquiries to the Office of Economic Development.

The student branding competition was judged by a panel of professionals in the business and marketing community. “Add Some Altitude” features famous Colorado-based CEOs and their testimonials about the appealing aspects of doing business and living in Colorado.

“I think we had a truly integrated marketing campaign as far as print ads, airport ads and public relations,” Benedik said. “All of those components really worked together, and we had great creative support from Anabliss.”

At the governor’s office, the students gave a polished presentation of their campaign, which laid out a strategy to entice new business to the state as well as promote current business expansion.

Hickenlooper said he liked the “Colorado Born” idea as well as the testimonials from Colorado businesses. He noted he regularly meets for dinner with a group of Colorado businessmen to talk about branding strategies for the state. “They represent a whole bunch of different companies and we’re trying to figure out how we can add value for a company so that they want to put that (Colorado Born) on there, so that it stands for something meaningful to them.”

Hickenlooper listed off several companies that have told him they attribute much of their success to being located in Colorado. “Maybe we’ll have you guys come in (to a brainstorming dinner) and do the same presentation you did for me,” he said.

(Photo: From left, Associate Professor of Marketing Vicki Lane, students Rachel Goodson, Michael Benedik, Gov. John Hickenlooper, students Carley Williams and Alena Bowen and Anabliss President Matt Coffman stand inside the Governor’s Office after CU Denver graduate students in marketing presented their competition-winning state branding concept.)

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