Samford University needed a partner who could produce exceptionally authentic recruitment pieces and the vast majority of its communications flow to prospective students. As a premier academic institution, it sought bold, persuasive cross-channel marketing, guided by robust data and rooted in its true character. Samford required a partner who could match its exacting standards and bring its national reputation to the next level.
Carnegie provided data-driven strategies to determine Samford’s authentic personality, market position, and opportunities to increase reputational standing. These were developed through consensus-building campus workshops along with market perception studies, competitive analyses, and student persona identification (Darts) workshops that revealed precise, segmented understanding of Samford’s current and future students. The resulting brand story equipped Carnegie to deliver a comprehensive set of targeted, personality-driven marketing collateral including new institutional and athletic logos, campaign concepts, print collateral, photography, microsites, email, website personalization, and digital ads.
Samford’s and Carnegie’s partnership has resulted in more than five years of record growth in applications, admits, deposits, and academic and geographic profile, 18% enrollment growth, and 43% reduced spending on Search. Samford’s clarity around its identity as an institution and its core offering to students has raised morale across campus and positioned Admission leaders as a source of vision and momentum in connecting Samford with its audience in compelling and authentic ways that work.
Carnegie led Samford admission leaders through three days of intensive training to reach the next stage of enrollment growth. The training included advanced messaging exercises that delved deep into the underlying motivations of future students and the creative storytelling that would reach them. The result was an ambitious plan for signature collateral pieces and a renewed vision for telling Samford’s brand story—one that is classical yet youthful, confident yet inviting, and friendly yet reflective of the depth and rigor of Samford academics.
Samford long felt its athletics and institutional logos didn’t feel “right,” but it wasn’t sure why. Carnegie’s personality solution for Samford enabled the University to build upon its core identity and determine the key values its logos should express. Carnegie developed a comprehensive suite of new logo options, tested through qualitative and quantitative research, that led to a successful overhaul and a 92% approval level on campus.
Carnegie provided on-site photography and art direction to Samford’s photographers to help the University establish a distinctive visual identity that reflects its core personality. The resulting assets serve to tell the deeper, more authentic stories of campus, those that connect with audiences at an emotional level and bring irresistible energy to its print and digital collateral.
“Anybody can make a pretty picture. Carnegie creates research-backed, tested, psychometric storytelling that actually moves the needle.” Jason Black
AVP, Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission
Samford sought help to portray the depth and breadth of its academic offerings in a manner more engaging than a mere list of majors. In response, Carnegie built an innovative microsite that leads prospects to explore majors according to their deeply held values and drivers. The site guides users to select core academic strengths—such as foundational critical thinking skills, experiential learning, and robust alumni networks—before leading them to granular program-specific information. Along the way, Samford gathered valuable metrics about the specific motivations and interests of each prospect.
Carnegie developed versatile campaign concepts to serve as a framework for Samford’s storytelling. Three personality-driven concept directions connected Samford’s mission to students’ lives in striking and memorable ways. The chosen concept, "Realized," rests on a powerful affirmation of the potential and passion already within students and how Samford strengthens it into extraordinary offerings to the world. Realized provides the lens through which Samford’s story would be told in all new and refreshed student marketing materials.
Samford used Carnegie Clarity to personalize the content and appearance on its website to key audiences. The homepage and top-level admission page were customized and pop-up messages were deployed to deliver messages based on a user’s previous browsing interest, location, or Dart code. This enabled Samford to streamline the user experience on the site, elevate important content, and test the effectiveness of different creative sets.
"Carnegie has been a huge asset to our recruitment process. Our partnership has allowed us to clearly communicate who we are and present our institution in the most true and transparent way. Carnegie has used an individualized approach and taken great care to pursue data that is specific to Samford. Their interest in our institution has provided an authentic and unique message that has contributed to our enrollment growth."
AVP, Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission
Samford has utilized CollegeXpress to fill its enrollment pipeline and generate leads for years, with significant success. Its targeting capabilities allow Samford to attract prospects by geographic regions based on academic achievement, interest of study, and multicultural background, as well as mission-fit students through the Christian Colleges & Universities platform. Year-over-year, CollegeXpress has contributed to Samford’s success developing early leads and connecting to right-fit students.
Carnegie created for Samford a communications flow at the forefront of best practice and uniquely tailored to stand apart from competitor marketing. Each piece targeted key audiences, including parents, counselors, inquiries, and applicants at crucial points in their journey. The narratives highlighted Samford’s distinctive strengths, backed by evidence and vivid visual storytelling that reveal the texture of campus life, embedded in the inviting and inspiring language of the Realized campaign.
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