St. Ambrose University was seeking a partner to better understand who it was as an institution and to define brand messaging, in order to ensure clear and consistent communications across departments. Marketing assets were out of date, and the institution was unhappy with the efforts of previous creative vendors. It was time to revitalize its strategy and tell a better story.
Carnegie Dartlet conducted live and online personality workshops, a competitive audit, and perception study to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of St Ambrose’s authentic personality and strategic positioning in the higher ed market. A collateral and enrollment communications analysis, new market analysis, and student persona identification (Darts) further identified opportunities for strategic and targeted marketing. Now armed with a clearly defined brand story, Carnegie Dartlet helped bring it to life through a comprehensive set of campaign-integrated, Dart-targeted marketing collateral—print, photography, videos, and digital ads.
After five consecutive years of enrollment decline, St. Ambrose University experienced significant enrollment growth in Year 1 of implementation. St. Ambrose continues to partner with Carnegie Dartlet in the ongoing execution of personified, highly-targeted digital strategies in key market areas and leveraging Darted student lists. Across the board, St. Ambrose’s campaigns have outperformed industry benchmarks and led to significant increases in website traffic. This solid increase is proof positive that having the right message in front of the right people is key to increased engagement.
What is right or wrong for St. Ambrose University? An interactive, in-person training with the University’s marketing and communications staff explored the breadth of St. Ambrose’s personality expression, arriving at key design and messaging insights. Imagery, video, and wireframing exercises revealed a resonance with first person narratives, personal student stories, and an emotive tone and style that capitalize on intimate moments and meaningful crescendos.
“I cannot overstate the value of the creative blitz. I Consider it an indispensable phase of Carnegie Dartlet’s process. The direct impact on the resulting creative work and the world-class professional development for my team was well worth the price of admission many times over.”
With a well-defined message platform in hand, Carnegie Dartlet developed personality and Dart-integrated campaign concepts which would serve as a strategic bridge into a robust and effective multi-channel marketing effort. Carnegie Dartlet presented to the client two deeply personality-driven concept directions, each telling St. Ambrose’s brand story in deep and memorable ways. The chosen concept, “Believe In,” captured the institution’s inquisitive and exploratory qualities, inviting students on a bold and courageous journey through university, life, and career.
Harnessing the power of videos to engage audiences, St. Ambrose extended their personality into a video campaign, drawing upon the insights learned at the blitz. Carnegie fashioned a storyboard that leaned heavily into the supportive and caretaking aspects of the St. Ambrose narrative to depict a realistic student experience, inclusive of the lows and the highs, the stresses and the wins, of higher education. Carnegie captured the footage over three days on campus, at the same time capturing photography to build out SAU’s creative resources library to include deeply personified assets. What resulted was a 60 and 30-second story-rich video and robust photo library that struck all the right notes and armed cross-campus communicators with powerful marketing assets for months to come.
In parallel to the video marketing campaigns, Carnegie Dartlet integrated the “Believe In” campaign into key print collateral, beginning with St. Ambrose’s annual viewbook. Carnegie Dartlet’s content and design strategists wireframed then produced 32 pages, depicting through design and narrative the various dimensions of St. Ambrose University’s brand story. This anchoring print marketing piece gave a prospective student an honest and inspiring first look at the character of the University and the compelling experience offered on its campus.
With a solid verbal and visual campaign direction, Carnegie Dartlet launched digital marketing campaigns to both prospective undergraduate and graduate students, targeting a Darted list of inquiries, as well as current and opportunity markets as identified by the New Market Analysis. Digital campaigns included paid search, paid social media, display outreach and retargeting, along with development of display ads and landing pages, and Dart-targeted Snap videos.
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