By telling the WSU story with a consistent voice, we create a clear impression of our brand, increasing our profile in a marketplace crowded with competing universities. Raising our profile not only benefits WSU as a whole—from student recruitment to fundraising—it also boosts the recognition and awareness of everything we have to offer. 

Tone words

Considering the character and attitude of WSU communications is essential. We’ve identified the following five tone words that represent the core qualities of WSU, based on the input of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Down to earth

There’s no pretense about us. We’re honest, speak plainly, and listen to all points of view.

With a Coug, what you see is what you get.


We’re defined by a never-say-die attitude and can-do mindset.

Cougs are driven by an inner fire focused on turning possibilities into realities.


We adapt and evolve as needed, keeping our eyes on the goals we’ve set.

Cougs persevere against all odds.


We passionately believe in and explore big and out-of-the-box possibilities.

Cougs turn the puzzle over and around to find innovative solutions to today’s problems.


We strive to ensure all voices are heard and provide equitable opportunities to everyone.

Cougs work together to unlock human potential. 

See Tone Words in Action

Applying the tone words

Our five tone words are guideposts that influence the way we write. We forge unique paths depending on our college, campus, or department, but the tone words tie every story back to WSU’s shared narrative.

For champions of the university like regents and alumni leaders, emphasize resilience, perseverance, and our unyielding drive toward university goals. For local communities, convey our down-to-earth nature and our welcoming, inclusive approach. For students looking forward to stepping foot on campus for the first time as undergraduates, prioritize spirit and originality, two integral components of what it means to be a Coug. 

The example communication to a new student below demonstrates how the tone words can be threaded through a headline and body copy.

We are WSU: How will you change the future?

The world is vastly different now than it was in 1890 when WSU was founded. But our mission remains rooted in our original purpose: to provide education for all, to conduct scholarly research that benefits the world, and to share our expertise widely and freely.

As a new student, you may be uncertain about what your future as a Coug holds, but know this: you’re here for a reason. You and every other student across our six campuses are driven by an inner fire to turn possibilities into realities. Whether you’re interested in creating alternative fuels from agricultural waste, using art to comment on social issues, or helping underserved communities the world over, we’re excited to see your innovative side, your drive to examine the puzzle of life from every angle, and your efforts to identify the best way forward. Together, we’re here to unlock human potential and leave our mark on the world as Cougs. But what that looks like depends on you. 

So what’s next? We can’t wait to see what you come up with.