UHCL branding campaign banners displayed at Pearland Town Center for prospective students to see. Photo by Rebecca Sherrer: The Signal.
Rebecca Scherrer The Signal
While driving around the Bay Area, you may have seen new billboards and advertising for UHCL. You may have received emails from the university telling you to be on the lookout. The concept is pretty clear.
UHCL has launched a new marketing strategy: The Choice Is Clear. In order to encourage student enrollment and raise community awareness of UHCL, the new advertisements can be seen in Baybrook Mall, on billboards, online and various other places.
It all started out with a bidding process. After three years with UHCL’s previous agency, the time came for a new vote and possible agency change. Different ad agencies were brought together and voted on by UHCL faculty and staff. After reviewing the feedback from UHCL, the new advertising agency, Richards/Carlberg, was strongly favored.
“For the University of Houston-Clear Lake, we conducted our proprietary spherical branding process, where we interviewed many UHCL faculty members, staff, students, alumni and community leaders,” said Chuck Carlberg, principal, brand creative. “On Dec. 6, we had 24 of these UHCL stakeholders and leaders in a large room for a day to create our brand promise. There weren’t ‘struggles’ so to speak, there was just a great deal of smart, hard work from both Richards/Carlberg and UHCL; it is a strategic and creative partnership.”
Richards/Carlberg “developed the university’s creative marketing approach based on a branding workshop with the school deans, associate vice presidents and other senior administrators and staff members,” said Theresa Presswood, executive director of communications. Presswood worked closely with Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Yvette Bendeck to coordinate student recruitment and general university marketing communications activities to support the goals established by UHCL’s administrative leadership.
The ad agency played an important role in the branding campaign by creating a ‘brand promise’ with UHCL, which resulted in a promise that provided a strategic foundation for all future decisions related to the UHCL brand. Richards/Carlberg worked hard to create a new and positive image of UHCL, while maintaining the overall goal of the university.
“From our spherical branding work as a foundation, we began our creative and media brainstorming,” Carlberg said. “We looked at which media will most effectively reach our target audiences and cost-wise, most efficiently, and which creative message will relate to our various audiences to help them better understand UHCL and have empathy with our university. We also kept an eye on UHCL’s downward expansion for new freshmen and sophomores.”
Most organizations routinely change their marketing campaigns in order to have the most successful advertising. This advertising can vary from year to year based on the particular goals that the university wants to achieve.
“At UHCL, we typically follow a three-year cycle, but we transitioned to a new creative approach so that new materials could coexist with established materials over a period of time,” Presswood said. “The completion of our three-year contract with the previous agency, along with key shifts in recent years – most notably, the establishment of the new campus in Pearland, the growth in online programming and the approval of downward expansion – fueled the need to review and refine our marketing strategies.”
Since the campaign launched during the week of April 2, there has been a lot of positive feedback from alumni and the business community. One of the new campaign initiatives is to build awareness, which is why the campaign can be seen all over the Bay Area. The campaign is visible on four billboards around the Bay Area and Gulf Freeway, on large interior signs inside Baybrook Mall and on a building and kiosk in the Pearland Town Center. The design’s look and feel will be incorporated in the new UHCL college materials, newsletters, Web banners and other sources of media.
“All of these efforts will help build favorable awareness and positive feelings about the University of Houston-Clear Lake,” Carlberg said. “We should also see our enrollment increase, the caliber of students will be enhanced and alumni participation grow. Our UHCL faculty and staff will also see a greater respect and admiration from students, parents, the community, academic peers, the media, and their neighbors.”
Only time will tell how effective this new marketing campaign will be, but Presswood is hopeful that it will be a huge success.
“Based on the unsolicited feedback received from students, faculty, staff and alumni, the new campaign is receiving rave reviews,” Presswood said. “People are saying they are excited about the campaign and are proud to be associated with the university.”
UHCL President William Staples provided a way for students and faculty to get a preview of UHCL’s new marketing campaign last month. The preview consisted of a presentation showing a summary of the branding essentials and creative campaign.
“I am very excited about it,” Staples said during the presentation. “I think we’ve got a great partner in Richards/Carlberg. I think they really capture what UH-Clear Lake is about as they worked with us. I think this will elevate the institution. It just raises our profile and helps differentiate UHCL from other institutions.”
The advance preview of UHCL’s new marketing campaign was recorded and has been made available for students and faculty to view online at http://uhcllive.wimba.com/launcher.cgi?room=UHCL_Communications_2012_0328_1605_26.