For some, getting a photo in a photo booth is just plain fun. This past spring at Virginia Tech, it was also a chance to express the university’s brand personality. 

But, capturing photos was just the beginning. The booth and promotional campaign were part of a larger strategy to demonstrate that inventing the future is something all Hokies do, regardless of their major, their job, or their role at Virginia Tech.

Over a six-month period, an “I invent”-themed photo booth appeared at various locations around campus where students, faculty, and staff were asked to submit in their own words how they invent the future. Trained brand ambassadors helped capture photos and video to accompany the stories. Participants received a traditional photo strip, stickers, door hangers, and T-shirts to fuel the campaign’s excitement on campus.

“Invention is a way of life here,” said Melissa Richards, director of marketing and publications. “Whether it is knowledge, leadership, technology, cures, or art, Hokies on- and off-campus are inventing the future. A photo booth was a creative way to capture our diverse stories.”

By partnering with more than a dozen on-campus departments, units, and student groups, the campaign generated more than 550 “I Invent” statements, many of which were posted to a Facebook page where students tagged themselves and “liked” content. Next, the marketing team will make use of the content for its fall 2012 undergraduate admissions campaign.

“I’m inventing the future by figuring out the best way to meet the needs of our consumers in our marketplace and create long-lasting brand relationships with them,” said recent Pamplin College of Business graduate Kristen Podbelski. 

Mark Wilkinson of Landeburg, Pa., a senior majoring in marketing management in the Pamplin College of Business said he was inventing by “helping @VTPamplin increase its brand equity through @VTPRISM.”

Inventing the future also means starting new student organizations. Zeinab Nilforoush of Reston, Va., a sophomore, university studies major, founded the Middle Eastern Student Association at Virginia Tech. “I invent a fresh perspective on an ancient culture,” said Nilforoush. This group strives to bring more culture and diversity to campus by creating a unified and varied representation of all the nationalities that make up the Middle-East and establish cultural awareness of the Middle-Eastern community at Virginia Tech.

Inventing the future may also refer to the interface of community service and academics. Samantha Hugo, a 2012 graduate in landscape architecture said, “I invent by designing playgrounds for children with special needs that allow them to interact with nature and other children.” Hugo is just one of the talented students helping to invent the future while studying at one of the top 10 landscape architecture schools in the country.

University Libraries Dean Tyler Walter expressed how even the traditional library is transforming. 

"I invent a future where libraries are driving innovation, accelerating research, building supportive communities, and helping everyone possible to get their degrees!"

Whatever their story, Virginia Tech faculty, staff, and students definitely invent the future – in their own way, every day.  This fall, a new “Illuminator” award will recognize those who represent the epitome of the Virginia Tech brand and who truly embody the spirit of “Invent the Future.” Look for more information soon about how to nominate a friend, employee, colleague, or superior. 

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

This story was written by Cecelia Crow, brand marketing manager.

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