Words are powerful.

They shape ideas. Encourage action. Change lives. And when you write for a brand, words significantly influence the way people perceive your organization, and how they choose to interact with it.

When done well, our work inspires people to engage with USask in a positive way, whether they are a prospective student, a current staff member, a key donor or a member of one of our other stakeholder groups. From a one-on-one conversation to a full-page ad in a national newspaper, each touchpoint with a person shapes the way they see us, and shapes their relationship with us.

These guidelines are for anyone who represents USask through their written or verbal communications, including both internal staff and external suppliers. Managing and growing a brand is a big job, and we all have a responsibility to make sure everything we’re doing is contributing to our brand in a positive way.

If you have any questions or need further assistance, please email communications@usask.ca or call 306-966-6607.

1. Our personality

Who is USask?

We know from our positioning project that the University of Saskatchewan has a welcoming, unpretentious personality. We are humble and take a quiet pride in what we do.

We believe in the power of teamwork to get the job done, and know working hard is the difference between ideas and results. In other words, we are resourceful, collaborative and dynamic—but level-headed enough to mind our manners.

Understanding the university’s personality is key to appropriately writing or speaking on behalf of USask.  

2. Audiences

Who am I speaking to?

USask is a complex organization with a wide array of key audiences. You might write for a number of different audiences all in one day. Thinking about your audience and knowing who you are speaking to will affect every strategic decision you make, including what channels you use to reach them, what information they need and how you will speak to them.

3. Messages

What am I saying?

Table stakes and decision drivers

Staring at a blank page can be intimidating. Start by asking yourself what your audience needs to know to take the desired action. What do you want them to remember? This is a key message. Support that with proof points—facts or examples that can back up what you’ve said—and you’ve got a good start. Look at the table above and see where your information fits. Does it differentiate us? Is it important to your target audience? Aim for key messages that are high on both—decision drivers. 

4. Tone and style

How am I saying what I'm saying?

The style in which we write or speak is perhaps the most important part of ensuring your work supports our personality, and our brand. A few simple tips to keep in mind: Choose simple words and be concise. Use the active voice. Be engaging. Be clear and limit jargon. Use personal language.

Because you've thought about your audience, consider when it is appropriate to push the envelope on our verbal brand and when it is not. If you’re talking to prospective students, you can likely have a bit more fun and use more informal language. If you’re trying to persuade a donor to make a significant gift, you might want to infuse our fun-loving personality more subtly.

5. The finishing touch

Test your work

Share with someone from your intended audience group, formally or informally. If that’s not feasible, at the very least share it with someone around you.

Technically perfect

Proofread, proofread, proofread and then have someone else proofread it for you. A fresh set of eyes will catch little mistakes! Use the USask Style Guide and CP Stylebook.

Have some fun

Find new ways to say things. Brands evolve, so share your ideas and draw inspiration from—and give inspiration to—your communications colleagues.

6. Approved language

As we gather here today, we acknowledge we are on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respect to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

The University of Saskatchewan (USask) is a member of the U15, a group of the top Canadian research universities. Our main campus, well known for its beauty, is located in the heart of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and is home to programs ranging from business, law, and arts and science to engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine, along with many others. Study at the U of S is enhanced by our world-class facilities, including the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, VIDO-InterVac, the Global Institute for Food Security, the Global Institute for Water Security and the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre for Nuclear Innovation.

Due in part to the high quality of research infrastructure, USask has six areas of special focus: Aboriginal Peoples, agriculture, energy and mineral resources, animal and human health, synchrotron science and water security. In addition to having the opportunity to work and study at one of Canada’s top research universities, our students, faculty, researchers and staff enjoy a high level of support typical of a smaller university, creating an environment that inspires collaboration, innovation and discovery.

With the option to study at locations across Saskatchewan, more than 24,000 people from around the world, including more than 3,000 self-declared Aboriginal students, study at USask, and our more than 153,000 alumni are spread across the globe. Our graduates, recognized for their work ethic, resourceful nature and determination, will continue to build on our history of success to address the world’s challenges now and in the future.