How do you stand out and grab people’s attention in a crowded, competitive market? And once you have their attention, how do you keep it? These, and other questions were top-of-mind as St. Lawrence College (SLC) under the leadership of Marketing and Recruitment Director, Stew Clark, started strategizing on a new brand campaign.
The college sector in Ontario has been experiencing declining domestic applications for the last number of years, according to Clark. “The need to differentiate as well as to be strong in the competitive market has never been more necessary. We knew it was more than simply creating a new tagline; we needed to completely change how we presented SLC to Gen Z, who are known to engage with strong visuals and interactivity.”
The new campaign is founded on a powerful, yet simple and relatable image of an open door, and will launch this summer across SLC’s three main markets of Kingston, Brockville, and Cornwall to support the 2021 recruitment cycle. It will be promoted on digital channels, social media, as well as billboards, transit ads, and more, with the goal of establishing the door and its red frame in the marketplace and create further curiosity.
The Open Door metaphor will carry a prospective student through their journey of discovering SLC, from applying, accepting an offer of admission and enrolling, through to graduation. Choosing the red-framed doorway to SLC is the starting point to achieving their career goals, be it through an office door, hospital door, kitchen door, and more.
SLC enlisted the creative talent of Exacto Communications, a national advertising firm to develop the branding and provide a fresh perspective and approach to marketing in the post-secondary sector.
According to Benoit Allaire, Exacto president, the challenges for SLC were fourfold:
- Catch attention quickly
- Present a powerful mental picture
- Speak to all audiences
- Have global application and relevancy
“Program offerings are pretty much the same across the sector, and in our analysis, most colleges market to prospective students in similar ways,” Allaire said. “The Open Door concept fit perfectly with this important transition in students’ lives. Which path to choose? Which threshold to cross? Students are seeking to identify the right path for them, to find that opportunity that will help them get closer to their goals and aspirations. And SLC is there to help open the right door for them.”
“This is truly an exciting phase for SLC, said Glenn Vollebregt, SLC President and CEO. “The new brand campaign is a perfect illustration of how we help our students achieve their academic goals and connect with the careers of their dreams. St. Lawrence College offers that doorway to the start of that important journey.”