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Hardin-Simmons University

Brand Strategy + Campaign Activation
Next Wrok
Columbia University
Columbia University
NEXT Columbia University

Finding Clarity in the Cowboy Spirit

Hardin-Simmons University needed alignment. Struggling with conflicting internal and external perceptions as well as trying to stand out in a market saturated with competitors, its team came to us looking to clarify what made Hardin-Simmons unique.



Increase enrollment by…

  • Differentiating Hardin-Simmons from the other private liberal arts colleges in Texas
  • Creating more awareness in the metropolitan areas of Texas
  • Making a splash with Hardin-Simmons’ unique attributes and distinctiveness


Get the outside world to see Hardin-Simmons the way its faculty, staff, and students do.


Give Hardin-Simmons the courage and confidence to lean into its cowboy spirit.


Defining the HSU Experience

Pulling insights from internal and external stakeholders, including leadership, the enrollment team, marketing team, current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and even business leaders in the area, we started to gain a better understanding of what makes Hardin-Simmons stand out in a very saturated market. 

We realized all their competitors were similar in look, feel, and messaging (even brand colors). Everyone was saying and doing the same thing, which was very safe. We saw an opportunity for HSU to stand out by doing something different: embracing and proudly owning the Christian heritage and cowboy traditions that were unique to the University.


“We are cowboys.”

That concept became the rallying cry and tagline establishing the true essence of what made Hardin-Simmons the university it is. 

But what are cowboys? Cowboys are hard workers, people who push forward through any challenge that arises. Cowboys stand up for what they believe and finish what they started. They’re responsible. They’re natural born leaders. They have grit and passion for what they do.

Cowboys aren’t defined by the dust on their boots. They’re defined by their character. 

This campaign shows that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do. The cowboy spirit lives in each one of us.

We are Hardin-Simmons University.
We are cowboys.

Moving Forward with Confidence and Clarity

With our strategy and creative direction, Hardin-Simmons now has the clarity and a solid foundation to lean into what makes it different from other Christian universities in its area. It’s a strong, simple, refreshing message that shows grit and what it means to be a cowboy.

Partnering with Up&Up brought new life back into our campus. Our new campaign helped align the university as a whole with new brand pillars and a sense of pride in where our university came from.

Kacie Eurek Director for University Marketing, Hardin-Simmons University

Columbia University