Grove City College

Grove City College

From branding to landing new students

Where Faith and Freedom Really Matter

Rigorous academics, authentically Christian and amazing value were always considered Grove City College’s three pillars of distinction. These are three attractive features for sure—add them together and they provide a one-of-kind educational experience. But the three pillars by themselves don’t really describe the college’s culture and certainly doesn’t reflect Grove City College’s personality. It’s those type of intangible elements that help form an emotional connection with a prospective student or like-minded donor.

After extensive internal and external research, Pipitone Group (PG) determined the core essence of what defines Grove City College—a conviction to the principles of faith and freedom. This idea encompasses intellectual, political and religious freedom—articulated in Grove City College’s materials as freedom to dream, freedom to believe, and freedom to change the world.

Because faith and freedom matter.

Grove City College is an innovative and selective liberal arts college with 2,500 students from 45 states. PG was awarded with the task to “rebrand” a brand that existed since the college’s founding in 1876 with the goal of providing scholarly achievement in a Christian environment. Taking a qualitative and quantitative approach, PG took a deeper look into their three pillars: rigorous academics, authentically Christian and amazing value. The market research and internal interviews not only confirmed these three core strengths, it revealed the hidden emotional answer to what they ultimately mean—to their audiences, and to their legacy as an academic institution.

The founders of the college believed that faith and freedom were inextricably tied together—the bottom line, Grove City College exists “because faith and freedom matter.” And while the words were new, the “brand” was there from the very day the College was founded. Because at PG we don’t create brands for colleges—we discover and bring them to life after careful consideration of the culture and the institution’s legacy.

With the brand defined, the next step was helping Grove City College attract students of all Christian faiths, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. PG launched a fully integrated campaign designed to reinvigorate and modernize their brand, and reach their core constituents:

Brand and Identity Development

Upon the Board of Trustees approval of the recommended brand line, PG created a brand promise brochure to introduce and build excitement about the new brand position. Then prior to public release, four on-campus meetings were held to openly discuss the process and rationale to establish internal buy-in. PG also refined the college’s entire visual identity and created a new manual to reflect the standards and usage guidelines—a key tactic to ensure adherence and consistency going forward.

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Quality Admissions Marketing Materials Matter

It’s always college recruiting season and that means admissions packets are being sent out to prospective students each and every day. PG worked with Grove City College to create a whole line of newly branded admissions marketing materials designed to connect with prospective students, parents and influencers by accurately conveying what Grove City College is about. And because the recruiting materials reflected the authentic uniqueness of Grove City College, the school—and the materials—stood out from the competition.

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Profiling and Targeting

College recruitment is fiercely competitive—schools are always after the best and brightest. The more targeted you can be, the better chance you have of success. PG created a database of like-minded prospects and created four core candidate profiles. Then PG considered the lifestyle and media behaviors the four profiles had in common and implemented an appropriate marketing media mix based on the demographics.

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Increasing Awareness Nationwide

With over 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. alone, it’s easy for a school to fly under the radar. PG launched a series of ads—digital, print and radio—told from the perspective of current students who talked about why Grove City College was the right fit for them. The ads were targeted for regional recruitment along the east coast, as well as in metro areas throughout the country heavily populated with alums or visited frequently by admission counselors.

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Digital Recruiting Campaign

In order to better market to, track and adjust our recruiting campaigns PG created a microsite. QR Codes and URLs track each print, online ad and radio spot—prospects get in the admissions funnel early on in the process. Audience-specific Facebook and Google Adword campaigns targeted student’s interests, directing them to subject specific campaign pages, increasing engagement, cultivating relationships—and producing more relevant and effective results.

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Results Driven by Data

Monthly reports were created to measure the success of each campaign. With this information, we’re able to track visits per ad, pages visited, time on site, and the bounce rate—as well as event and multiple domain tracking since they have and use three web properties. Using this data, the media mix can be adjusted or different creative can be tested for better results. This information also helps improve campaigns midstream and weighs heavily on future media buys.

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A Comprehensive Website

It is the one communications vehicle that touches all internal and external audiences…and everyone has an opinion. Over the years, the site had grown into something—with tons of information—but no clear path to find it. A comprehensive content managed website was the solution, along with audience-based navigation, and a dynamic, flexible design that conveys their brand and adapts to their multiple messaging needs. Most importantly? The world can see all of the exciting things students are doing on campus and alumni are accomplishing after graduation.

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