As CU Denver’s student body continued to evolve, the demand for student experiences similar to those of more traditional, residence-focused universities—culture and community-building, student organizations, greek life and athletics—began to grow.
Driven by a dedicated and passionate student government association, the concept of introducing a CU Denver mascot gained steam. From an awareness and reputational standpoint, this opportunity to expand CU Denver’s brand and create a rallying point for student pride and spirit could not be ignored.
A steering committee of key student, alumni and marketing stakeholders was formed. Work began with a series of surveys to gauge the general interest for a university mascot. Upon receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, a project roadmap and strategic brief was developed and presented to campus and system leadership.
Disruption sessions were held to refine the scope and ensure its fit with the university’s existing brand. Further surveys and town halls revealed a strong preference for an animal-based mascot with a more playful, mischievous nature (versus an overly aggressive, sports-focused icon).
Extensive geographic and wildlife research formed a shortlist of mascot candidates. Another round of stakeholder surveys and town halls identified the clear winner. The Canada lynx, once driven to extinction in Colorado, had been reintroduced in 1999 by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife agency. Since that time, it had defied expectations and flourished—much like many of CU Denver’s students and alumni.
The mascot’s personality and appearance were defined through a series of creative brainstorming sessions and stakeholder focus groups. A naming contest resulted in a student-designed moniker: Milo the Lynx, a combination of Mile High and LoDo, area landmarks adjacent to campus.
Milo was unveiled to the public at a dynamic and transformative on-campus event. Within weeks, CU Denver’s new “spirit identity” and brand extension had been enthusiastically embraced by students, faculty and leadership as a much-needed focal point for campus culture and collaboration.
Since his introduction, Milo has exceeded all expectations. His presence has helped propel the university’s club sports and intramural athletics programs, lobbied for higher ed funding on the steps of the state capitol, increased branded apparel and merchandise sales, driven undergraduate enrollment and K-12 outreach efforts, and served as the benchmark for dozens of student-driven efforts and collaborative initiatives.
- University of Colorado Denver
- Strategic planning
- Brand development
- Creative direction
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