Case Study

George Mason


George Mason University


Brand Strategy

Brand Workshop

Evolving Brand Perception to Match the University’s Success


Founded in 1972, George Mason prepares graduates to meet the complex needs of a rapidly changing world through academic excellence. As Virginia’s largest public research university, George Mason University welcomes more than 37,000 students on campus representing over 130 countries of origin.

Despite a strong academic and cultural reputation, George Mason’s external perception was outdated. The university needed to match the progressive nature of its primary constituent groups through a refreshed brand positioning and story that could speak to diverse audiences around the world.

George Mason’s key stakeholders were looking for a way to communicate its esteem without compromising its relevance and relatability to its student body. Beyond Definition was tasked with helping George Mason’s leadership team clearly define the essence of who they are and establish recommendations for a brand position that’s authentic to what they represent, what they do, and, most importantly, where they’re headed.


Beyond Definition conducted two customized workshops to help George Mason better understand how they could evolve their brand story and perception to match the progression of the university. The first included the George Mason leadership team and the second was much larger including department heads and other administration. We took their mission and created an interactive experience for stakeholders to marry the school’s values and brand messaging with George Mason’s future. Ultimately, we provided a baseline for George Mason to use for marketing, recruitment, and awareness campaigns, shifting its perception to better align with where the school is today.

Phase 1Diagnostics & Discovery

Through an analysis of George Mason’s local and regional competition, a deep dive into perception data provided by a third-party research company, and research surrounding what its current brand positioning was, we were able to extract the core of George Mason’s challenges. These insights laid the building blocks for our brand discovery workshops, uniquely tailored to fill the needs of George Mason’s internal team and external audience.

Phase 2Brand Discovery Workshops

The goal of our custom discovery workshops is to build a foundational strategy for brands to reach their full potential. The strong, memorable, and trustworthy brands of today stand out among competitors through smart differentiation and positioning strategies that energize their audience. Often, a third-party perspective can be extremely beneficial, coming at the exploration with an unbiased opinion. For George Mason, our questions were tailored to meet the end goal: finding a cohesive George Mason story to align both internally and externally, as well as regionally and nationally.

During the workshops, we explored the following aspects of the brand:

Each of the brand workshops explored George Mason’s brand positioning to help them answer crucial questions about its pillar values. Through a series of strategic and creative exercises and discussions, the George Mason team was able to open up and explore different opinions and viewpoints. The George Mason administration left with a renewed, unified vision of the future—one that realizes the needs of the university alongside its present and incoming students.

Phase 3Brand Positioning & Marketing Recommendations

Following the workshops, our team analyzed the findings and delivered a strategically-guided Brand Positioning Findings & Recommendations Report that the George Mason team can leverage to guide future brand and marketing initiatives. With this information in hand, George Mason can also develop strategic recruiting campaigns backed by refined brand messaging and positioning.