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Westminster University

Brand Strategy
Next Wrok
Hardin-Simmons University
Hardin-Simmons University
NEXT Hardin-Simmons University

Big Moves for a “Decidedly Different” University

A new strategic plan is an ideal moment for a university to make a big change with their brand. And that’s exactly what Westminster University wanted to do. Shifting from a market saturated with colleges offering the traditional Utah Christian liberal arts experience, Westminster leaned into what made it unique: faculty-led, conversational classes; executing programs through an equity lens; and enhancing its student experience with supportive resources like WCore, WestX, and Griffin Guides. 

The University’s team partnered with Up&Up, a GMB Brand, to help its new initiatives to life with a rebranding and web redesign that captured everything that made Westminster “Decidedly Different.” 

  • Brand Strategy
  • Brand Campaign
  • Platform Naming
  • Web Development

THE GOAL: 

To create a unified vision for the Westminster brand and help the University stand apart and above in a crowded market by:

  • Crafting key messaging and campaigns that brought its new strategic plan to life
  • Renaming the signature student experience platform to reflect the new Westminster brand
  • Updating the University website to be as unique as the institution

THE CHALLENGE:

To embrace Westminster’s location while recognizing that its university experience is very different from the traditional liberal arts college in Utah.

THE OPPORTUNITY:

To push the boundaries of the traditional “higher ed” look and messaging to attract students who would thrive in a progressive educational environment.

Leading with Authenticity

Through our brand platform process, we were able to truly capture and align the internal and external stakeholder teams on what makes Westminster unique. As a progressive liberal arts institution located in a primarily conservative state, its inclusive and diverse community provides an experience that students may not typically experience in Utah. Here, you can “come as you are, and graduate as you will be.” A sentiment that became the starting point and inspiration for the campaign.

Permission to Think Different

Higher ed institutions have a reputation for sticking with what’s traditional. Not Westminster. From the beginning of our work together, the Westminster team was open and willing to challenge the norm and think outside of higher ed for creative influence. In a refreshing change of pace, the University’s marketing team welcomed a more playful approach to design and allowed us to push boundaries for results that were authentically true to the Westminster brand.

Collaboration at its (W)Core

To understand Westminster is to experience Westminster. To spend time on campus. To talk with students, faculty, and leadership on a regular basis. Our time working with Westminster entailed multiple trips to campus, consistent communication with the University president, and regular check-ins with the in-house team. This level of teamwork allowed us to ensure that we had buy-in from all stakeholders on the Westminster rebrand and that our direction aligned with the president’s new strategic plan and vision for the University. 

Breaking Silos

The most effective way to guarantee brand success? Getting everyone on the same page. To achieve this for Westminster’s marketing and admissions teams, we held regular brand camp sessions where we provided language on how to best speak about Westminster. Then we led the teams through exercises to share how they would describe the University. As we continued evolving the brand and campaign, the admissions and marketing team continued to lean in and work together to enhance our efforts.

Making Small Moments

Throughout our work together, we identified a need to separate Westminster’s new student experience from others in the market. It was already a very innovative approach for engaging students: a simple, interactive microsite to inform and excite new students about their time at Westminster. Through collaboration with the Westminster team about what new students would experience, we helped them name the platform (WestX) and create small moments to the design that would keep students engaged and enthralled about their introduction to Westminster.

Expanding Partnership

Our work with Westminster led to bigger projects with the University, like working on the logo for its change from college to university. This was another area we were able to help the institution navigate: launching a complex brand and activation plan to continue increasing enrollment while transitioning from a college to a university.

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