The Future AwaitsJun 13th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Highlights
BY LEIGH ANN COLEMAN ’09
IT’S HARD TO define a college that has meant so many different things to each generation that has passed through its halls, whether those halls belong to Old Main or the Henry Belin DuPont College Center. One thing is for sure. There’s a spirit that has always remained constant at Wesley College. That spirit is demonstrated by the passion with which our faculty teach their students, the relationships that make Wesley feel like a second home, and the many ways our graduates carry out the mission of the institution by making a difference in the world around them.
This past fall, the College received a $113,150 grant from the Jessie Ball DuPont Foundation, providing the opportunity to undergo an important initiative. Under the guidance of Performa Higher Education, a national consulting group from Burlington, N.C. specializing in private higher education, the College began a comprehensive marketing and re-branding study. In direct response to one of the priorities in Wesley’s strategic plan, this process sought to enhance the College’s niche within the marketplace through the development of a cohesive and consistent marketing approach, complete with a new logo and a revamped website.
In a fast-paced world where higher education institutions are in fierce competition for students, not to mention fundraising dollars, strategic and effective messaging is an essential ingredient in positioning oneself for a bright future. For Wesley, this meant being able to succinctly express what makes a Wesley education unique and communicate that across all channels, to attract prospective students and engage the various audiences of the College and the greater community. At the core of this project was gaining a greater understanding of what Wesley means to all who are closest to the College— its alumni, current students and parents, employees, volunteers, friends and neighbors. After all, how could we tell Wesley’s story to attract the next generation without first weaving together the many threads of its history? Learning why Wesley is special to so many alumni and friends and the collaborative approach in defining its brand was the greatest benefit of the process.
“Great Things Await”
The opportunities that exist at Wesley and what the institution provides to its students is at the heart of Wesley College’s new brand line, “Great Things Await.” It also signifies a rich institutional history and identifies a new era, with the anticipation of a thriving future. “Great Things Await” will be used on its own or to complement the College’s new wordmark.
A New Twist On Tradition
The College crest has been a symbol of the core values that define the College and have been carried out since the adoption of the name Wesley. The new wordmark is a fresh take on the shield that makes up the center of the crest. This will replace the DuPont College Center sketch logo that has been used on materials and advertisements for the College since the 1990s. Within the shield, the shells symbolize the coat of arms of John Wesley’s family, each representing the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The cross is a symbol of the College’s Christian origins while the lamp and book represent knowledge and lifelong learning.
How To Tell The Story
In order to tap into and hone the Wesley story, we enlisted the help of countless alumni, faculty, students, staff and parents to determine current perceptions and develop a clear, cohesive brand that could be communicated with consistent messages. Through a series of focus groups and surveys, Performa collected valuable feedback that guided decisionmaking toward the end result.
“Capture Your Dreams” is the tagline for Wesley’s new admissions recruitment materials. This concept resonated most strongly with prospective students, garnering close to 80% of the vote when tested against another potential tagline. It will be displayed along with fresh photography on print advertisements, billboards, mailers, television and radio.
Perhaps the most significant overhaul in the re-branding process will be completed this summer. With the Internet undoubtedly being the most convenient and popular way to learn about Wesley College, improving this communication tool was high on the marketing priority list. In July, Wesley will launch its brand new website. Not only will the site provide a more modern and sleek design, it has been restructured to accommodate the individual needs of those who commonly utilize the site. When you visit wesley.edu you will be easily directed to the information most pertinent to you, based on your relationship with the College. The roles will include: Prospective Students, Current Students, Faculty & Staff, Alumni, Families and Community & Visitors. Once you have chosen your path, the site will provide relevant and organized menu items, making it much easier to navigate and find information.
Beyond the visual appeal of each piece of the new brand, the true value is in how it encompasses the many facets of Wesley, emphasizing its heritage while propelling the College forward as it seeks to educate the leaders of tomorrow. An important factor in attracting and retaining students is making sure they are the right fit for the institution. This is only achieved by being very intentional in our messages, effectively representing Wesley and the many opportunities that lie ahead for a potential student that would best benefit from and make the most of a Wesley College education.
A new brand alone will not raise the academic profile, raise money for student aid, or set our graduates apart in a tough job market. But telling the story of who we are, what we do, and what the College stands for in one unified voice will ultimately raise the bar for those already connected with the College and those with whom Wesley will play a future role. Wesley College faces the same challenges that any other college faces, but it isn’t just any other college. It’s your college. And we hope that you will join us in telling our story.