Business Storytelling

An Organizational Narrative 

Launched in September 2014, San Jose State University's first comprehensive communication guide explained how to strengthen the organizational identity by telling the stories of its people, the source of the university's "power." 

A lead contributor to this effort, I articulated the "power" brand platform, including key messages and themes, the SJSU Anthem and editorial style guidelines, and wrote the identity usage standards found in SJSU Power Source: A Multi-Platform Communication Guide.

Focusing on the stories of people expanded the meaning of “powering Silicon Valley,” a tagline the university had been using for more than two decades. Within the larger context of a comprehensive brand platform, “powering Silicon Valley” became much more than a tagline. Positioned as a brand promise, it encompassed the story of individual and collective resilience and strength that had often gone unrecognized. Elevating the stories of people encouraged community members to take pride in their accomplishments, as well as how they achieved them. 

Capturing the SJSU Experience

Based on input from focus groups, market surveys and hundreds of interviews with students, alumni and faculty members, I wrote the SJSU anthem in an attempt to capture the essence of what it means to be an SJSU Spartan—a statement that would inspire the stories the university tells. 

Initially, it wasn’t intended to be used verbatim. Following substantial feedback, the anthem became part of the university’s key messaging and was featured in many university communications and physical spaces, including:

  • SJSU’s institutional commercial, which debuted in August 2018
  • SJSU’s Diaz Compean Student Union walls, ground floor
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport passenger suite (formerly located in Terminal B across from Gate 18)
  • “My Story is Here” light pole banners around campus
  • University Advancement lobby, Clark 300

This 30-second university spot uses a portion of the anthem.

What makes us Spartans? We choose the unlikely path because every test of our character and stamina is an opportunity to learn. We have advantages that can’t be taught: grit, focus, imagination. We believe that dreams are realized through hard work, intelligently applied. We rally. We adapt. We create.

At San Jose State University, we discover who we want to be—for ourselves, for our families and for our communities. Different and unexpected begin here—at the heart of a transforming valley, in a city that is tough and beautiful. We are Spartans. What powers us changes our world.

SJSU Anthem

My Story is Here

Part of a broader people-focused content strategy, the goal of the My Story is Here storytelling campaign was to demonstrate through personal stories the many ways San Jose State powers Silicon Valley. That is, the ways the university's people use what powers and inspires them to change our world. My Story is Here was a statement of pride in being part of the SJSU community and contributing to the larger organizational story.

The campaign included a blog, campus light pole banners, print and digital ads, as well as promotion in the alumni magazine, Washington Square, and on SJSU's social media channels.