It Takes a Village to Make a Brand

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A Great Brand

Meeting a new institution is like meeting a new person—you want to get to know who, or what, they are and what they stand for before you clutch either to your chest as your best friend. You want to understand values, mission, vision and purpose. That’s the big idea behind branding. It helps you decipher what an organization is all about.

Specifically, branding creates relationships and warms up the market for the enrollment and advancement messages. A consistent, synchronous brand has the power to persuade.

FPU’s branding message is the sum total of a student’s or donor’s experience. For potential students, that relationship begins with cohesive messages (from our website, mailed collateral or the admission staff) and continues with that student for as long as it takes to enroll. For potential donors, including alumni who met FPU as potential students, that relationship begins with cohesive messages (from our website, mailed collateral or the advancement staff) and can continue with that supporter for a lifetime.

In either case, some opt out—but they still know what FPU is all about. But notice how branding for potential students and donors begins with a relationship and continues with cohesive messages from a variety of FPU sources? Whether they attend a college fair, get a piece in the mail, read Pacific magazine, have coffee with an advancement representative or are exposed to our radio or TV spots, the importance of consistency—in “voice” and in visual language—can’t be overstated.

My counterpart at the CSU school across town once told me they had 17 different versions of their logo. They have, over the years, reduced those versions down to one approved image. Here at FPU, we have a “family” of university logos—each with McDonald Hall as a consistent element—and a series of athletic logos featuring our Sunbird. Though a logo alone doesn’t impart the brand, consistency certainly helps!

Possible Happens Here

The Fresno Pacific University branding message is both simple to comprehend and complicated to live out: possibilities. For a better education. For a transformed life. For getting through college in two or four years so you can meet your goal of graduating and begin giving back to the community. What students never imagined was possible, and what donors want to support, God makes possible at FPU.

Now here’s the complicated part—it takes a village of dedicated faculty, staff and administrators to make those possibilities happen. And it takes that same village to provide our students with a something-to-write-home-about engaging student experience. The kind that goes viral on social media! The kind that warms a donor’s heart!

A Successful Brand

  • Delivers our message clearly and concisely
  • Confirms our credibility
  • Connects our target prospects (students and donors) emotionally with our service (earning a bachelor’s or graduate degree for students and supporting transformative Christian higher education for donors)
  • Creates user loyalty
  • Develops audience-affinity with an institution

Our environmental branding, for example. The city light pole flags that surround the circumference of main campus. The Scripture on the wall on the upper floor of McDonald Hall. The banners in the McDonald Hall Atrium. The line art on Alumni Hall. The messages depicted by decals in the undergraduate admission and financial aid offices, on the walls of the cafeteria and in the adjacent game room. All have theme and colors in common.

Ologie

When we worked with Ologie, the agency that developed our brand back in 2015, the “Ologists” developed styles for photos, video and ways of phrasing words, along with a color pallet and visual language specifically for Fresno Pacific University.

First, they did their “Discovery Visit,” interviewing members of focus groups of all populations of our students, faculty, staff, administration and alumni. Then they went back to their offices in Columbus, OH, and came up with two concepts. They tested those concepts on a campus-wide working group—we ultimately chose possibilities. Last, they tested that singular concept on 75 prospective students representing all our populations via an online discussion board. The results? A higher acceptance rating than Ologie had ever seen.

We forged ahead, having a great deal of confidence that our branding agency had hit the mark.

Flexing the Brand

Now we’re flexing the brand: into Scriptural references, new TV spots, regional campus flags and decals. We’re extending it to Pacific magazine and our web presence. But we’re careful to stay true to the original concept—possible happens here.

Branding breaks the trail, so the enrollment and support messages can resonate with all our student populations, their families and our donors. Branding paves the way for our belief system—undeniably Christian—so those who know us understand we believe in the words of Jesus. Branding breaks new ground, gives testimony to our “tall poles” and makes way for the enrollment and advancement messages to sink in. Branding is the precursor to engagement.