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Brand Positioning

Asking More

With the College of Holy Cross

Background

01 / Background

Higher education is an increasingly competitive space, especially in New England where the college-age population is declining. To ensure the College of the Holy Cross was positioned for future success, the institution tapped GMMB to accomplish three goals: update its brand, raise its national profile, and increase and diversify its applicant pool.

Years
2013 - 2015
Services
Brand Strategy / Creative Content / Public Relations
Strategy

02 / Strategy

Holy Cross wanted to ensure that any new identity accomplished these three brand goals while remaining true to their heritage. Based on initial stakeholder interviews with current and prospective students, GMMB realized that there was a lack of understanding around how a Jesuit college could benefit a non-Jesuit student. GMMB used this insight to highlight spiritual and intellectual exploration to distinguish the College from its competitors, and through a comprehensive brand process, infused this story into Holy Cross’ unique identity. Knowing that current students, faculty, and alumni deeply identified with the existing brand, GMMB also built in opportunities for input and buy-in from these groups every step of the way to ensure the new brand reflected the College’s important history while also projecting its future.

Work

03 / Work

GMMB conducted a materials review and competitive analysis, as well as stakeholder interviews and a workshop with faculty and students to better understand what differentiated Holy Cross from other institutions. Using the findings, GMMB developed a brand platform centered on the “power of a question,” creating the tag line “Ask More,” as well as a new logo and accompanying visual identity system. When asked to rebrand the athletic department, we again referenced historical images and created an updated interlocking mark to be used on apparel, signage, and social media.

Results

04 / Results

GMMB created a video and brand book to unveil the new brand to the Board of Trustees, who unanimously approved its implementation. Holy Cross officially launched the new brand in August 2014 with a refreshed website and new signage, a TV spot and online video produced by GMMB, and core printed materials such as business cards and letterhead with the new visual identity. The new brand was embraced across campus. GMMB created comprehensive branding guidelines which resulted in a cohesive expression of the new brand in everything from advancement materials and athletics signage to student-made bulletin boards in residence halls and messaging in new student orientations. Rebranded admissions publications and a redesigned website expanded the reach of the College’s message and appeal: applications increased in 2016, and website visitors are both spending more time on the site and requesting more information about the application process than they have historically. The brand has also strengthened and unified the College internally, driving an overall improvement in strategic communications across campus and increased collaboration among a range of departments around events, social media campaigns, and leadership communications.