University News

Survey: Positive Reaction, Support for Think Purple

February 25, 2014

Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University MBA students, under the direction of Associate Dean of the College of Business and Technology and Marketing Professor John Drea, recently completed a survey of Western's alumni and friends to assess the effectiveness of the ongoing "Think Purple" marketing theme.

The research was conducted by Drea and a core group of students as part of the Marketing 576 class, with comments analyzed by MBA students Katie Buss, Conner Herkelman and Letisha Trepac. Drea's students Kripa Dalwadi, Dustin VanSloten and Jason Mills also were a part of a project. An e-mail with a survey link was sent to 29,723 alumni and friends in October 2013, with a total of 2,005 responses received (6.7 percent response rate).

"We appreciate the work that Dr. Drea and the students put into this survey and gathering the responses," President Jack Thomas noted. "We are pleased that many of the respondents had positive things to say about 'Think Purple' and that they associate this with Western. The comments, suggestions and feedback will help us further enhance our marketing plans for the future."

The "Think Purple" campaign, which began locally as a way to further engage community members and local businesses and organizations, is about branding and recognition for Western, according to Brad Bainter, vice president for advancement and public services and interim director of marketing.

"It started as a mission to foster more local pride for our community members. Due to the success of the local campaign, we decided to branch out and market this theme and campaign within the state and beyond," Bainter explained. "It has been our goal, and our hope, that when prospective students, current students, alumni and others see 'Think Purple,' which is eye-catching and visually appealing, they become even more interested in Western. It's about brand recognition and keeping Western's name in the forefront."

The survey revealed that nearly 62 percent of respondents had heard of "Think Purple," with the most common locations for seeing a "Think Purple" message being outdoor ads (73.5 percent), website (71.9 percent), and email (64.8 percent). Drea said he found the fact that 33 percent recognized "Think Purple" from t-shirts, which is a low-cost, yet effective, form of advertising, interesting.

"Nearly 61 percent of the respondents had a positive or somewhat positive opinion of 'Think Purple' as a WIU message, with 16.7 percent responding negative or somewhat negative, while 22 percent were neutral," Drea added. "When asked for suggestions, more than half of the respondents noted while they liked 'Think Purple,' the University should build upon that theme."

At the time the survey was sent, the University was beginning to build upon the theme with the new "Think Purple, Think Success, Think Western" marketing campaign, which began in Fall 2013. Bainter explained the new "Think Success" and "Success Story" taglines associated with "Think Purple" are to illustrate the success that students ... and graduates ... have as a result of their Western education.

In addition to querying alumni about the use of "Think Purple" as a marketing message, survey recipients were also asked to identify the logo they felt was most closely associated with Western. The Rocky Sweep logo was selected by close to 50 percent of alumni who have graduated since 1990, while the Bell Tower logo was also selected by close to 50 percent by alumni who graduated between 1960-79.

For a summary/fact sheet regarding the "Think Purple" survey, visit and click on "Think Purple" Survey under Quick Links.

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing