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Concordia announces new branding plan

The Office of Communications and Marketing is undergoing a new branding project for the college. Roger Degerman, director of communications and marketing, said Concordia’s new message will affect prospective students, potential employees, alumni and donors.

The campus community will see changes as a result of the branding project next fall.

Degerman said there will be “significant tweaking” to the Web site. The Offices of Enrollment and Advancement will distribute new materials to reflect the new brand messages. The Web site, social media pages, promotional materials and advertisements will all change to some extent.

“The world has changed incredibly in the last five years. Concordia itself has changed,” Degerman said. “Now is the time to update the story.”

The current brand message, which was designed in 2005, weighs heavily on global programs and global engagement. The new message will build on that idea.

Some of the recent changes include the Knutson Campus Center and the Offutt School of Business. The college is also marketing the plans for a new science building.

“We are looking to increase market desire for Concordia,” Degerman said.

Degerman outlined three goals for the project. The first is to design a story that resonates with the potential audience. The second goal is to deliver the message in a way that has a maximum impact. Finally, the project will focus on training employees to be “brand ambassadors,” which means they will help perpetuate the college’s message to the outside world.

While there are positive aspects to share about the college, Degerman said the price of the college cannot be ignored. The economic recession has left an influence on prospective students and their families.

“We have to figure out how to handle people’s concerns about the price,” he said.

The college is working with Creative Communication Associates to make brand messages more attractive to potential audiences. The largest audience for Concordia’s brand messages is the pool of prospective students.

One way that CCA and Concordia personnel determine effective brand messages is through a series of professionally moderated focus groups. In this arena, they can introduce the new material with prospective students and their parents and then get feedback about what information resonates.

The focus groups will include a cross section of students who plan to attend Concordia and those who were once interested but plan to go to college somewhere else.

Teresa Harland, vice president for advancement, said her office is also a major participant in the new branding plan.  The process will affect how the college reaches out to alumni and donors.

“Alumni and donors want to see their college in a fresh way,” Harland said.

Harland said the brand message focuses on keeping alumni engaged in events on campus and updated on new initiatives. If alumni and donors feel connected to Concordia, they will financially support the college.

The effort will not cost any more to the college. Degerman did not specify the exact amount of the project, but said he reallocated within his own office’s budget to cover the cost.

Jim Hausmann, interim vice president for enrollment, said the college has been conservative about the way it markets itself to the outside world.

“The community here is something that doesn’t lend itself to describe it,” Hausmann said. “We’re a lot better than we think we are.”

Steve Schaefer, associate director of admissions, said the current trend among public universities is to market features, such as small class sizes, that were once preserved for private colleges. In order to step into the spotlight even more, the college had to adopt a more aggressive approach to marketing.

“We have to be more intentional in our branding,” Schaefer said. “We’re in such a media-sensitive society. If you’re not consistent, you will be drowned out by others.”

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