Telling our story

Storytelling is an important part of communicating the USC Upstate experience. Our stories are what give our brand meaning and shape. The stories we choose (about students, alumni, programs and faculty) define the brand for both internal and external audiences. Stories should demonstrate the impact the University makes on the world. Our stories must be compelling, surprising and dynamic.

Keep it short and sweet

Studies show that people remember no more than three to five pieces of information that they read or hear. In fact, more information can result in your audience remembering less.

So, if people aren’t already interested in USC Upstate, too much information may cause them to tune out altogether.

Ideally, you want to serve up just enough content to make your audience want to take the next step. How much information is the right amount? That depends on whom you’re talking to and what action you want the reader to take. People generally want more detailed information the closer they are to “closing” a deal, whether that “deal” is making a donation or buying basketball season tickets. In the early stages of the relationship, you want to keep it short, relevant and compelling.

When writing, ask yourself:
  • Why are we telling this story?
  • To whom are we telling the story?
  • What are the three (or fewer) things the reader absolutely must know in order to take the next step?
  • What do we want this story to make people feel, think and do?

Good copy sounds more like how people speak and less like how they write.

Sometimes, for impact, short sentences may not even be “real” sentences. Eliminate complicated clauses and extra words and your message will be stronger. And your reader will get the point faster. Free yourself to start sentences with "and" and use plenty of dashes – because that’s the way people think and speak. In bursts.

Surprise your audience

Don’t be afraid to have punchy headlines that jolt an audience a bit. Avoid generic language that doesn’t tell your reader anything specific about the University or that any institution anywhere could say. Give people the information they’re looking for or surprise them with something they don’t know. Ultimately, the goal is to educate audiences and hold their interest. Grab their attention and don’t let go.

Voice and Tone

Brand Messaging

Editorial Style Guide