Shelby Newland, Reporter
Brianna Black, Editor
After extensive research and development, Berry College will begin rolling out new branding and marketing in December.
The new branding, designed to make Berry stand out in an increasingly competitive market, is set to replace the nearly decade-old “Experience It Firsthand” campaign. The changes will be widespread, including a rebranding of the work experience program, the introduction of a more visually-driven website and the use of a new logo.
“The marketing messages are not trying to create a different Berry,” Vice President of Enrollment Andrew Bressette said. “The marketing messages are trying to find an authentic voice that represents who Berry is in a marketplace that can be very crowded.”
Information gathered by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center showed college enrollment to be on the decline across the country for approximately seven years. According to Bressette, many colleges in the Northeast have begun advertising aggressively in the South, making it more difficult for southern schools to capture the attention of potential students in the region.
In response to this issue, Berry contracted North Charles Street Design Organization (NCSDO), a marketing firm that specializes in educational branding, to reinvent Berry’s branding and marketing strategy. NCSDO has undertaken similar projects for several other colleges, including Colby College and Stanford University.
“The branding project helps focus us on how to tell the Berry story memorably and simply,” President Stephen R. Briggs said. “We want to invite people to take a deeper look at Berry and discover what makes us special.”
A combination of quantitative and qualitative research provided the foundation on which NCSDO plans to help build Berry’s new brand. For a year and a half, a research team headed by Nancy Rewis, Berry’s new Vice President of Marketing and Communication, has been conducting extensive formative research.
Focus groups and comprehensive surveys have provided thousands of responses from potential students and their parents, alumni, current students, guidance counselors, and Berry faculty and staff.
“This is certainly the most thoroughly researched campaign I’ve ever been a part of,” Assistant Professor of Communication Samantha Nazione said, also calling the process extremely transparent.
A major finding of the research was that for many people, the most valuable indicator of academic excellence at a school is the level of mentorship it provides to students.
One of the ways NCSDO plans to showcase the mentorship opportunities Berry provides is through the rebranding of the work experience program. The program will now be called LifeWorks. To distinguish Berry’s program from the work study programs found at most other schools, this rebranding will highlight the professional development that students can experience at Berry.
Bressette was very pleased that such an integral part of Berry’s original mission and value to current students will be communicated more clearly through this new branding.
“I don’t know why that didn’t dawn on us,” Bressette said. “That really is how we’ve thought about work for a hundred years.”
Many potential students are already thinking about life after college, and the new branding of Berry’s work program will shift focus to outcomes and long-term benefits of a work program that provides opportunities for advancement and growing responsibilities. This idea is encapsulated in the program’s tentative tagline: “Work a Job. Build a Life.”
The new marketing of the program will aim to elevate understanding that the LifeWorks program gives students eight semesters of professional development to gain the set of predictable skills that helps set students up for success after college.
The school’s new website, which is still in the early stages of development, will help showcase the LifeWorks program, as it will feature visual storytelling and pared-down navigation for a cleaner, more visually pleasing aesthetic.
The company also developed a new logo for the college. Clifford Lull, president of NCSDO, said they wanted to create something timeless, or “something Martha would have given a thumbs up.”
The logo was inspired by a combination of crests found around campus, as well as typography found in Frost Chapel and the Ford, Complex which was hand-crafted by early Berry students.
The early days of the school have not only influenced the college’s new logo, but also the language used in marketing.
“We wanted to use language that could come from Martha herself,” NCSDO content strategist Matthew Swanson said. “Language that is imperative, pithy, wise.”
Bressette said that much of that language is still being developed, but NCSDO made it clear that there is one definitive line that will be carried through much of Berry’s marketing to potential students: “Keep It Always.”
“We wanted to find a galvanizing set of words that distills the most essential aspects of the Berry experience,” Swanson said.
Ultimately, NCSDO and Berry’s goal is to reinvent and revitalize the school’s brand to showcase the many opportunities Berry already gives to students, and show prospective students who they can become through these opportunities.
“I’m excited to pin down the voice, images and ideas that convey our story,” Briggs said. “How we ground ourselves in the enduring values of this place even as we reach ahead in ambitious ways.”