Brand Guide Content
Elements of the ASU brand

Language and tone

Communicating the ASU brand


The tone for our brand is: ambitious, bold, visionary, inspiring, aspirational, optimistic, determined, future-focused, authoritative, leading the way, strong, active, capable, committed, purposeful, honest. Learn more about the brand and tone.


Language used in ASU branding should reflect ASU’s focus on inclusivity, innovation, community service and collaboration, both locally and globally. This overview provides strategies you can use to effectively align your content with the ASU brand.

ASU language is direct, clear and sincere. It is not overly clever, catchy, slick or cute. It must be audience-appropriate. Text should be as succinct as possible, and writing should be inspiring, provocative and declarative.

  • Be concise for power, clarity, gravity
  • Use direct language
  • Convey sincerity

When communicating the ASU brand, language should be:

  • Genuine, not slick
  • Down to earth, not excessively idealistic
  • Smart, not clever or satirical
  • Heartfelt and caring, not overly sentimental
  • Optimistic, not dreamy
  • Bold, not weak


  • 🚫 Abbreviations, acronyms. Shortened forms not readily recognizable by the reader should be avoided. See Abbreviations and acronyms.
  • 🚫 Jargon. When communicating to general audiences, use clear, concise language.
  • 🚫 Long headings, titles. Be concise and informative. The BBC and CNN news headlines are excellent examples of brevity, averaging five words.
  • 🚫 Poor grammar. Common examples are switching between first and third person, when the subject of a sentence and the verb don’t agree in number, and changing tenses in the same sentence or paragraph.
  • 🚫 Unnecessary phrases. Substitute appropriate words or rewrite the sentence.
  • 🚫 University size and enrollment numbers. Students who don’t select ASU often cite the size of the university as a reason for attending elsewhere.
  • 🚫 Creating ambiguity with symbols. Do not create ambiguity by mixing symbols with words: and/or, test(s).

Select powerful words:

Affect, influence, change, invent, reinvent, act, imagine, rethink, rewrite, see, do, create, solve, build, commit, redefine, lead, chart, aim, design, engineer, form, intend, map, project, purpose, shape, sketch, think, possibility, strategy, solutions, plan, potential, world, future, momentum, challenges. 

ASU branding in content

For standardized text, including boilerplate and campus descriptions, see ASU boilerplate text.

Readers must identify with our messages, and writers should strive to create relationships with our readers. It’s important to communicate in a conversational style appropriate to each audience, modifying traditional “academic speak” to conform with the ASU brand. Wording should be as succinct as possible, but not simple.

  • 🚫 Before. Arizona State University is a comprehensive metropolitan research university for the 21st century, internationally known for its high-quality academic and research programs. Students from all 50 states and more than 130 countries enroll at ASU each year, bringing their diverse thoughts, cultures and backgrounds to the university's scholarly environment. By matching university talents and expertise with the vision of community and industry leaders, ASU provides indispensable research and support to address the major issues affecting the quality of life in the Valley of the Sun, the state of Arizona, and throughout the nation and world.
  • ✅ After. Arizona State University is a New American University. We embrace the educational needs of the entire population, not just a select group. We are a force for discovery, turning students into thought leaders who will shape the future. We take responsibility for the economic, social and cultural health of the communities we serve, and we conduct our research by considering its impact on the public good.

Cost language 

  • 🚫 Never mention cost or position ASU programs as free. This association does not support quality in our academic offering and weakens the ASU brand.
  • 🚫 Never mention discounts but it is acceptable to advertise scholarships (e.g., “Get a $5,000 scholarship if you apply by July 1”). Approved references to scholarships are recommended as supporting copy, not headlines.
  • Mentioning pricing in some nondegree programs is acceptable.


All materials produced by ASU should reflect inclusion, equity and belonging. These values are based on the ASU Charter.

For language related to inclusion, see Inclusion guidelines.


See Inclusion guidelines.


See Inclusion guidelines.

Gender-neutral language

See Inclusion guidelines.


See Inclusion guidelines.

Race and ethnicity

See Inclusion guidelines.