For the past year, Saint Joseph’s has conducted research on how people perceive the college in order to establish a brand – one that informs how we communicate about the college and how we represent the college on all levels.
“A brand is much more than a logo or a visual system,” says faculty member Mary Lynn Engel, who has served on the branding committee and teaches a course in branding on campus.
“The Saint Joseph’s brand will be a holistic concept about who we are and how we tell others who we are.”
To perform the research and develop the brand, the college hired branding firm Ethos Marketing and its research partner, Pan Atlantic Strategic Marketing Services, to survey high school seniors and their parents (in Maine and Massachusetts); current on-campus and online students; prospective online learners; recent alumni; and faculty and staff. The surveys asked about factors considered in choosing a college, key images and perceptions of Saint Joseph’s, and the major strengths and weaknesses of the college. Focus groups were conducted with similar groups and the Sisters of Mercy associated with Saint Joseph’s College. The research also included an analysis of the college’s higher education competitors.
The research has revealed certain key concepts that resonate well with the audiences surveyed – concepts that will help to form the basis of the Saint Joseph’s brand and the communication/marketing about the brand:
On-campus program concepts
- Well-rounded, career-focused education in highly relevant (employable) programs of study
- Highly personalized and supportive academic environment not typical among today’s colleges
- Engaged team of distinguished professors
- Proven results in career placement and student advancement
- Easy transition to online graduate studies to advance your career
Online program concepts
- Career advancement with flexible online degree programs that suit adult schedules
- Career-focused degree programs
- Highly personalized and supportive academic environment not typically found in most online programs
- Engaged team of distinguished and accessible faculty
- Accredited, highly reputable programs of study
In general, one of the concepts that tested best among those surveyed was the high level of personal attention the college offers through accessible professors and involved advisors. Another is the blend of career-oriented education and classic liberal arts studies that makes graduates “ready for life.” According to Brent Wooten, co-chair of the branding committee, both concepts are key to well-rounded graduates and success in the workplace.
In December, Ethos Marketing presented a summary of the research, their brand recommendations, and related graphic concepts to both the branding committee and senior leadership at the college. These concepts were then tested in focus groups with select high school seniors, prospective adult learners, faculty and staff. Based on both internal and external feedback, focus group testing and SJC Board of Trustees involvement, the college could make modifications to the Ethos recommendations.
In March, Ethos Marketing will present the final overall package – brand positioning with logo, tagline, graphics, and distinct qualities that set Saint Joseph’s apart – to the college community. They will also develop a comprehensive brand standards guide and a strategic marketing plan to integrate the brand into everything we do – and share that with the college community as well.
Look forward to the new brand as Saint Joseph’s makes it part of the Centennial celebrations in the coming months.