Our Voice

Voice is a combination of the language we choose, the tone we use, and the way we thoughtfully construct copy to communicate our messages. Essentially, it’s how we share our story. Voice is one of the primary ways our audiences can connect and identify with the Purdue Fort Wayne brand. And to ensure that our story has a unified message, it’s important to follow our university’s editorial standards guide. 

Our Brand Narrative

At the highest level, the Purdue Fort Wayne story takes the shape of a brand narrative. This anthemic piece of writing helps us set the tone and inspires the rest of our communications.

With every stride, a Mastodon makes a powerful impact and leaves its mark. We follow in thunderous footsteps.
No matter our direction, regardless of hurdles or setbacks, we march. Surrounded by the resources and stability of the herd, we move.
Inspired, informed, and emboldened by Mastodons who’ve come before us, we make our own path. Because we are confident that every rumbling step forward brings us closer to who we’re supposed to be.
At Purdue Fort Wayne, we know what it takes to get where we’re going. It takes a first step. It takes every step after.


Unpacking the Narrative

With every stride, a Mastodon makes a powerful impact and leaves its mark. We follow in thunderous footsteps.

Individually, we are strong. But when we join together, we become unstoppable. People come to Purdue Fort Wayne to take the next big step forward in their lives and careers. And when they join with others who share their goals, as Mastodons, what started as small steps becomes the thundering roar of the herd. This is a place where people take powerful steps forward. And they take them together.

And we use “we” language to speak on behalf of the entire Mastodon community. It’s personal, it’s inclusive, and it describes the shared experience we all have here.

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No matter our direction, regardless of hurdles or setbacks, we march.
Surrounded by the resources and stability of the herd, we move.

Although we come from different backgrounds, have different perspectives, and are moving toward different destinations, we’re united in our spirit and our determination to move forward. This community that surrounds us gives us strength and support. The positive momentum of others around us keeps us moving onward.

We’re not afraid to talk about the obstacles or challenges that lie in our way. And we talk about the deliberate and intentional way that we face them—even when things are uncomfortable or uncertain.

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Inspired, informed, and emboldened by Mastodons who’ve come before us, we make our own path. Because we are confident that every rumbling step forward brings us closer to who we’re supposed to be.

This is a place for people who know who they are and know where they’re going. And at Purdue Fort Wayne, they find the smartest and most effective way to get there. They’re making their own way. Keenly focused on their goals, and driven by the inspiration, the information, and the direction they find every day. All that stands between who we are and who we’re going to be is the steps we’re taking right here.

We speak to the future that lies ahead. Although the journey takes us far, we speak to the impact that each student will ultimately have, in their career and their community and the world beyond. Just as all our students are here with specific goals in mind, we are equally focused on the positive outcomes we make possible.

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At Purdue Fort Wayne, we know what it takes to get where we’re going. It takes a first step. It takes every step after. It takes a mastodon.

At Purdue Fort Wayne, we not only know what it takes, we have what it takes. A willingness to work hard. A refusal to give up. And a commitment to start our journeys, and to see them through to the end. This is what makes us powerful. This is what makes us unique. And this is what makes each of us a Mastodon.

We are the only Mastodons in higher education. It makes us unique and special. We don’t shy away from language that describes the power, the strength, and the otherworldly charm of the Mastodon.

How to Use Our Brand Narrative

It takes a Mastodon gives us a human voice, and helps us deliver on our messaging. It also keeps us consistent, and makes our stories believable.

To ensure that our personality comes through in the voice.

The tone of what you’re writing should capture the spirit of “It takes a Mastodon” and convey the persistent, powerful character of this language. The narrative can help you make appropriate choices so that our voice feels human and inspiring. Make sure that whatever you’re writing sounds like it’s coming from a person who possesses our personality traits.

To maintain consistency.

With this positioning statement as a guide, we can ensure that all of Purdue Fort Wayne’s communications work together and sound as if they’re coming from one consistent brand voice.

To give context to our messaging.

We have a multitude of stories to tell, and lots of information we need to deliver. By couching this information in a compelling narrative, we can help ensure that readers receive our message and remember it. When all of our content aligns with this positioning, our communications have more emotion, meaning, and relevance.

To ensure that the world hears our story.

By keeping our story consistent, compelling, and clear, we can convey an incredibly powerful message. Ultimately, we’re sharing one story, multiple times, with a variety of audiences, across all types of media.

How Not to Use Our Brand Narrative

Don’t steal the thunder of our brand narrative by using it as a catch-all, end-all, be-all tagline for your communications and pieces. It’s a creative platform from which to jump. It should serve as a source of inspiration for all of our storytelling, rather than an easy trope that gets tired with overuse. 

Before you use “It Takes a Mastodon” verbatim:

Use anything else (within these guidelines).

In this section, we’ve provided a number of options for headline constructions and approved language. Each of these traces its origins back to our brand narrative. Do you need a call to action that describes our process? Look to “every step forward” language. Want to convey a hard-hitting community message? Try “the power of the Herd.” 

Check with Communications and Marketing. 

Our efforts are carefully coordinated and connect to larger marketing objectives. The phrase, in its entirety, may initially be intended for an unveiling to prospective audiences or a rollout of the new brand. With time, “It takes a Mastodon” may be appropriate for use with other institutional communications. It’s always a good idea to have a conversation with them.

Build out from the brand, step by step.

This document is intended to provide guidance, not restrict your creative process. Always go back to the brand narrative, and see if there’s another phrase that rings true or inspires new language. 

Sample Headline Constructions


Use this language to speak to the character of the people who make this institution what it is. There’s something unique about the unflappable spirit, the tireless work ethic, and the ceaseless commitment that each of us has as we work toward our goals. Our students work hard because they know what it takes. And they succeed because they have what it takes.

Use headlines that pair an outcome with the strength of character required to reach it—in short, “To do [A], it takes [B]”

To get where we’re going, we know what it takes.
Whatever it takes is the path we choose. 

What it takes to dream bigger. What it takes to reach further.
What it takes to climb higher.

To make progress, it takes persistence. 
To make a real impact in our community, it takes a leader.
To create a better tomorrow, it takes imagination.
To build better communities, it takes determination.


Use this language to speak to the community that exists at Purdue Fort Wayne. The collective power we accumulate when we stand shoulder to shoulder, in pursuit of a common goal. Describe this community with language that suggests the thundering herd of Mastodons that represents our spirit.

When this herd stands together, we are unstoppable.

Together, we have the strength it takes to shake the earth.

With the power of the herd behind you, there’s no limit to where you can go.

March with the herd to make a real difference.

We follow in thunderous footsteps. 


Bring together all this language to define what it means to be a Mastodon. It’s a unique combination of the educational process that we employ, the determined spirit we all embody, and our powerful community, where we support one another, every step of the way. Together, it’s what makes us who we are. 

Use headlines that attribute the bold things we do to the unique identity of the Mastodon—that show how we bring something unprecedented to the world. 

To make a real impact, it takes a Mastodon. To bring fresh ideas, it takes a Mastodon. To revitalize communities, it takes a Mastodon. 

It takes a Mastodon to move the world. It takes a Mastodon to push for something bigger. It takes a Mastodon to build stronger communities. 

When the world needs more thoughtful leaders, Mastodons stand out.  When communities look for smarter solutions, Mastodons step up. To take us from where we’ve been to where we’re headed, Mastodons move forward. 

Emotional Storytelling

How to Inspire Our Audiences

Show them we stand for something bigger.

Purdue Fort Wayne is about more than education. By connecting our message to the big, life-changing stories of our students’ success, our reputation and our identity will grow in power and meaning.


Connect with their values.

Demonstrate that Purdue Fort Wayne aligns with the sorts of things that our audiences believe in and feel passionately about. Show that our work is relevant to their lives.


Motivate them to act.

Always give your reader clear indications of what they should do next, whether it’s to seek out more information, gain a fuller understanding of what we do, make a donation, or apply for admission.

Make it real for them.

Connect our brand story to actual stories of the work that students, faculty, alumni, and other Purdue Fort Wayne people are doing.


Surprise them.

There’s a lot about Purdue Fort Wayne that our audiences don’t know. By revealing surprising information, facts, or stories about our work, we can support our messaging, values, and mission.

Our Personality Drives Our Voice

These six characteristics inform the tone of our language. The specific vocabulary you use will vary, but you should always ensure that the Purdue Fort Wayne voice is driven by these essential ideas. When telling stories, choose examples that demonstrate how Purdue Fort Wayne embodies these features. Use them to make your story more compelling and full of emotion. And use them to tie every story we tell to these unifying themes.

Our personality is purposeful, and our voice is motivated.

Everything we do is for a reason, and we speak to the meaning behind our actions.


Our personality is intentional, and our voice is deliberate.

Our words have meaning, and we use them to convey our greater goals.


Our personality is balanced, and our voice is pragmatic.

We speak with a grounded, realistic tone that always focuses on what’s next.

Our personality is inclusive, and our voice is welcoming.

We are open to all, and we speak with language that includes everyone.


Our personality is empowering, and our voice is supportive

We offer thoughtful, proactive guidance, always with the best interests of our students in mind.


Our personality is genuine, and our voice is human.

With every word, our audiences should hear an honest voice, and a real human heart beating under the surface.

Tips for Writing

Always start with a focus on your audience. 

Give them three things: something to capture their interest, something to care about, and a way to connect with the work we are doing. 

Open with a hook.

Give them a reason to care right away. Lead with a benefit.

Find an angle.

A story should be about one thing: place, process, purpose, or people. 

Find the hero.

People are at the heart of everything we do. Put them there.

Reveal our character.

You don’t always have to say “It takes a Mastodon.” But you should always show how Mastodons have what it takes to work hard, succeed, and create possibilities for our communities, our state, and our world.

Breathe life into every word.

Our voice is personal—we write like we talk. Read your copy out loud to test it.

Be real. Clever is overrated.

The best writing doesn’t call much attention to itself.

Speak to people.

Avoid jargon and hyperbole. Even if it’s what everybody says. Especially if it’s what everybody says.

Cut out excess.

Say only what you need to say. Get to the point without unnecessary words.

Say one thing well.

Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information or tiresome lists.

Use inclusive pronouns.

“We” speak to “you” whenever possible. Our voice is a conversational one.

Show the impact of our work.

Every story should reveal why we do the things we do.

Make an emotional connection.

Decide how you want your audience to feel, and write accordingly.

Draft a plot.

Rather than state the benefit, dramatize it. Show our brand essence at work.

Find the voice.

As a rule of thumb, start with a compelling message and an understanding of our personality. By following these guidelines, we can all craft an identifiable and consistent brand voice.