Our Verbal Identity

The Rice Position

At Rice, we believe nothing is impossible. There is no “what if” that cannot become “what is.” It just takes radical thinking to get there and a community of brilliant dreamers and doers to lead the way. That’s why we challenge convention at every turn: From the very way we live, to the teaching and research approaches we take, to the solutions we find, to the way we collaborate, to the way we insist on advancing tomorrow’s thinking, because today’s is not far enough. It sounds like a lot from a small university, but that’s what makes us special. 

Using This Guide

As a leading academic institution, we understand that education is not about teaching facts — it’s about helping students learn how to think.

Following the same philosophy, this resource exists to provide you with the tools and insight to craft your own messages that contribute to the collective identity of Rice.

An Additive Process (Not Prescriptive)

In order to best articulate the essence of Rice, our verbal expressions should stem from the foundational knowledge and sensibilities we all share.

While we hesitate to offer a set formula for university communications, it is important to understand and internalize the foundational truths of our institution before articulating them in your own way. The following pages outline and articulate our mission, beliefs and character as an institution.

How This Applies

This tool kit is not meant to be the exact messaging for all of your communication needs. It is meant as a source of guidance when you are crafting messages.

If everyone is creating messages that are inspired from the same conceptual foundation, it will reflect a consistency that lets audiences know that the collective sum of Rice is greater than its individual parts. 

Articulating Our Collective Character

In understanding and expressing what makes us unique, we are proud to weave the spectrum of campus entities and their respective perspectives into an overarching, singular voice.

Understand  the Audience

1. Understand the Audience

When communicating to one of the target audiences (see above), it is crucial to understand what is important to them and their desired outcome. The desired outcome is the reason that the target audience is engaging with Rice. Their perception of value is determined by the measurable positive impact that Rice can have on that desired outcome. What problems are they facing and how can Rice address their goal in a way that no other institution can?

Determine the Motivators

Understanding how Rice uniquely brings people one step closer to their life goals will help to distinguish Rice among the myriad of other institutions available. Why would someone choose Rice over another top-ranked school? What is their motivation and what appeals to them personally? What concepts and ideas do they hold near and dear to their daily lives?

2. Define Your Purpose

What is your objective and why are you communicating with the target audience? What do you want them to think or do in their engagement with Rice? Are you trying to recruit them for a cause? How does your purpose align with their goals?

3. Identity Alignment

What intangible attributes are appropriate to leverage your specific purpose and the goals of the target audience? What theme(s) can be used to add more context and connect our values to a measurable, positive impact? You can use the key themes below for guidance.

We are collaborative, transparent and focused on building meaningful relationships.

We are in constant pursuit of wisdom and commit ourselves to this endless exploration.

We are curious and imaginative and maintain a sense of wonder in all we do.

We believe in individual ability and empower people to be themselves.

4. Communicate

When communicating, demonstrate how your school, department or program is challenging convention. Use confident and bold language that is unapologetic and straight forward. Use the themes above that best connect with your target audience. Support your messages with facts and make sure that the key takeaways are given prominence in your messages.

Perhaps one of the most distinctive and impactful aspects of our identity as an institution is the incredible diversity of ideas, people and perspectives across our campus. This guide empowers every stakeholder to help build a cohesive verbal identity that celebrates the individuality of each school, department and discipline here at Rice.


Useful tools, files and templates to help you bring the identity to life.


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