Johnson Brand Positioning

What’s in a name and brand position?

Cornell and Johnson are great brands and great names. The brands have existed for years. This initiative focuses on updating the brand strategy for Johnson in light of the competitive environment and changing dynamics in the MBA and executive education marketplace.

A brand is an articulation of who we are and what we do best. It is a signal and a promise to a wide array of audiences. By virtue of our connection to Cornell, we have a strong endorser brand, Cornell, which we embrace wholeheartedly. The Johnson master brand, however, has not been well defined. Given increasing competitive pressures and brand initiatives underway at the top tier business schools, Johnson needs a clear and compelling strategy and campaign to differentiate itself, while staying authentic to the experience we provide.

That is why we have developed our new research-based positioning strategy and logo. We are a named institute – the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. This has not and will not change. As you can see in the logo, we still use the Cornell University insignia and the Cornell University name, just as before. But we have given the “Johnson” name more prominence with the top position as a first step toward enhancing name awareness and recognition.

The brand position statement, support statements and logo were an outgrowth of extensive research throughout a two-year timeframe, beginning with the strategic plan. The research included the input of thousands of potential students, students, alumni, recruiters, faculty and staff as well as extensive market research of the top fifteen business schools in the country.

Research strategies included four quantitative studies, hundreds of interviews and more than ten focus groups to develop and test positioning strategies, names and logos.

Who we are

The Johnson School has always been a general management school. It is our belief that we prepare students for a successful career in business, first and foremost. With that as a foundation, students of our residential programs then engage in concentrations and immersions that equip them with knowledge and skills to excel on a specific career path (i.e. finance). Similarly, the EMBA programs are both general management in nature.

Our alums have achieved great success as they progressed into higher levels of management or as entrepreneurs and consultants because they have a solid understanding of all aspects of business and its functions, not just one area of specialty.

Truly “our” brand

The repositioning of the Johnson brand was driven by a combination of our extensive research, the input of key stakeholders, and the counsel of external consultants. Key stakeholders included our internal marketing and communications staff, members of our alumni advisory council, the Dean’s management committee, alumni with marketing and branding experience, faculty, staff, recruiters, corporate partners, students and potential students.

The goal

The long-term goal is to develop and strengthen Johnson into a brand that is known much like Kellogg, Wharton, Tuck and others. The outcome of this effort is to benefit all our constituents as well as the Johnson family.

How you can help

You can help by making an effort to understand the brand positioning and its support statements, and adopting it as part of your communications with others when talking about your experiences here at Johnson. We have created this campaign micro-site to provide you with information, to gain your support with this very important effort, and to equip you with the information you need to serve as an “ambassador” of the academic experience we provide here at Johnson. Please refer to the Brand Standards Guide for additional information and, of course, feel free to contact Marketing and Communications with any other questions you may have. Ultimately, we hope you consider assisting us by offering yourself, and your personal experience, as a testimonial for future marketing efforts.


Creative samples

See how our brand is represented in the marketplace.

Brand Example