Tired of college marketing materials?
We are too.
High school students receive hundreds of pieces of college mail and email throughout the year. And it doesn’t take long for every piece of mail to blend together. The designs all start to look the same, and the messaging just feels mushy. We’ve had enough of this. College years can be one of the most formative times of life. In college, you grow as a person, and you are trained for a career that will likely become your livelihood for decades. Recruitment marketing materials should reflect that degree of impact!
This year at North Central, we wanted to communicate in a way students could relate to—with messages that would cut through the clutter and noise of “traditional” higher education marketing. We wanted this campaign to be one that would mean something to future students (and to us), and that would inspire people to choose a Christian college that has the potential to change their life.
The campaign theme: Your future is bold
Behind the scenes of creating the campaign
For every piece of mail and every email a prospective student receives, there is a marketing team working away, creating designs, crafting messaging, and crunching data with the hopes of reaching the people who are a perfect fit for NCU. The approach for developing this campaign was just as intentional. We vetted hundreds of ideas before landing on the theme “Your future is bold.” (Seriously, hundreds of them.) We brainstormed as a team, researched trends, met with current student focus groups, and surveyed high school students.
Here’s a look at how we came up with the “Your future is bold” campaign and what it means.
Hearing from students
Early in our campaign brainstorming, we assembled a diverse group of students who were willing to volunteer their time and give us feedback about various marketing trends, as well as lend insight into the things that meant the most to them during their time at NCU.
Here’s what students told us it was important to talk about:
- College isn’t easy, and North Central challenges students to grow more than they ever thought they could.
- Being challenged at North Central helped students to thrive and see their own potential for the future.
- The opportunities they experienced in downtown Minneapolis directly prepared them for work and ministry after graduation.
- Even though college can be hard, they felt amazing support from the community, especially the faculty.
- Did we mention faculty? The faculty at North Central were incredibly impactful to all of the students that we spoke to.
Here’s what students wanted to see visually:
- Bright colors–more than just NCU blue
- Gradients and color interacting with photos
- Honest, diverse photography
In all of our conversations, themes about facing challenges seemed to emerge. So our messaging doesn’t shy away from the challenges you might face while you’re in college. The counterpart to the challenges students faced was the success that students experienced when they persevered, surrounded by the support of their North Central community. Because of this, unique opportunities emerged for their future. Bold opportunities.
Understanding and speaking to generation z
High school students of today fit into the age group categorized as “Generation Z.” The North Central marketing team is comprised almost entirely of Millennials, so we worked hard to research and evaluate the motivations of Generation Z well before we crafted a campaign targeted toward them.
From a very young age, Generation Z-ers are concerned about their future. They are saving for their education and planning for college and career much earlier than previous generations. And one of their key concerns is the uncertainty of the future. While no one at North Central will claim to have control over the future, the North Central community is deeply invested in helping students discover their potential and navigate the challenges and opportunities they experience during their college years. This idea became one of the driving forces behind our messaging.
The meaning behind the words
From hundreds of possibilities, we narrowed our campaign down to one primary campaign tagline with four supporting messages:
Your future is bold
This phrase speaks to the lives of current and prospective students of North Central. These students are bold and engaged. They are unafraid of being challenged to grow, and they are boldly pursuing a better future for themselves and for the whole world. This campaign will highlight ways that students are embracing a bold future—exploring their potential during their college years, serving in ministry, launching entrepreneurial business ventures, and more.
- Experience bold mentorship: Meet Jake and watch his story about how faculty mentorship propelled him toward his career as the drummer of the band Yam Haus.
- Let your faith flourish: Hear from Jonathan about how his faith is flourishing at North Central.
- Discover bold opportunities: Watch the story of North Central students who found bold opportunity presenting at the General Mills world headquarters.