Mason’s communications program does not feature a tagline—a marketing phrase seeking to capture the essence of our brand. It does, however, use
Virginia’s Largest Public Research University
This line can appear with the name of the university (or the logo) in various contexts.
The value of this descriptive phrase is that it asserts Mason’s stature. Too many people have never heard of George Mason University or think that we are still the small commuter school of decades past. This descriptive phrase makes clear that we hold an important place in the educational landscape.
When to Use the Phrase
The phrase works well as part of the university’s “signature,” linked up with the logo at the bottom of a poster, ad, or email message or on the back cover of a publication. It is not intended as a headline or lead message. Also, its use is not mandatory. If the university logo works better in a certain context without the phrase, you are free to use it that way. It can also be used in copy.
Why This is Not a Tagline
What’s the difference between this descriptive phrase and a tagline? For one, the tone. Taglines typically make marketing claims and have more “spin” than the descriptive phrase. As a simple factual assertion, the phrase is different in tone.
Second, taglines generally hold a leading place in a messaging campaign. The university’s descriptive phrase is intended in a supporting role. The main work of announcing Mason’s messages should be done by headlines and themelines.
The Importance of the full statement
It may be tempting to remove either the word “public” or the word “research” from the positioning statement. Please don’t. “Research” helps position Mason as a major university, with a mission that transcends undergraduate education. “Public” suggests that we are affordable and accessible. (Also, without the world “public,” the positioning statement seems to some people to indicate that Mason’s mission is exclusively research.)