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In 2012, a change in Jackson State University’s administration prompted them to look at their marketing with a fresh set of eyes knowing they wanted a quantum leap in the brand. The new administration saw a dated brand, inconsistent usage, and a series of disjointed, hard-to-navigate websites that made a poor first impression. They selected the team of vitalink (http://www.vitalinkweb.com) and AndiSites Inc. (http://www.andisites.com) to help with development of a new strategic marketing plan, updated brand platform and combining more than a hundred websites into one cohesive, branded jsums.edu. The result: Record student enrollment and alumni giving in a time when all but one other Mississippi university saw declines.
How did JSU do it?
The key was a research-based brand revitalization process that engaged stakeholders from day one. The process included secondary and primary research, including a comprehensive survey of multiple key stakeholder groups – from students, faculty, and alumni to community and business leaders. An independent analysis of the marketing and communications department showed strengths and weaknesses to address for a flawless brand rollout. A comprehensive style guide was created and training structured for consistent application of the new brand. Templates were created for video and printed pieces to ease department resources and present a cohesive look. Finally, action plans were created as part of a fully integrated brand development initiative and website rollout.
The process encouraged feedback and stakeholder buy-in. A teaser campaign included outdoor advertising, signage on buildings, and social media, culminating in the introduction of the new logo at…drumroll please…halftime at a JSU home football game to the sounds of the school’s legendary band, the Sonic Boom of the South. Rollout continued with outdoor, social media, and the JSU Street Team building excitement with dorm “raids” and new logo item give-aways. Alumni were engaged in the process and persuaded to support their alma mater through a series of targeted communications. The end result: a brand that demands attention and encourages action.
This case study was presented at the 2014 American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education by Jeanne Frazer, Andrea Ferguson and David Hoard.