Globally, colleges and universities are constantly looking for ways to attract students to visit and to eventually attend them. One of the main ways that colleges do this is through how they present and brand themselves to the world.
Since the early 2000s, Allegheny’s tagline has been “unusual combinations.” This tagline is changing with Allegheny’s new rebranding campaign.
While the tagline is a part of the overall campaign, it is not the largest or most important piece. There is a lot that goes into the process of rebranding, which takes many years, according to Ron Cole, provost and dean of the college, President Hilary Link and Cornell LeSane, senior vice president for enrollment and dean of admissions.
The current rebranding campaign began in 2017 when administrators began looking at Allegheny’s strengths and how Allegheny should present itself to the world, and collaborating with faculty, staff and students across campus.
“There are still many key facets from what we had at the beginning, in where we’ve ended up,” Cole said. “This was not done without rich input from the surrounding community. A lot of the main themes are still there. And a big part of what we continue to focus on is our focus on interdisciplinary major and minor combinations, along with our required senior project.”
The market research to develop Allegheny’s strengths that specifically resonate with prospective students was done by the marketing company Art & Science Group. The college then partnered with another company, Allen and Gerritsen, to build on that marketing research and to develop the campaign.
Overall, this process has taken a little over a year, and the official rebrand has launched this past week.
Additionally, LeSane said that this campaign is set to help tell Allegheny’s true story to the world that has not been told before.
“This is not anything new,” LeSane said. “This is really to help tell the story that we have been too humble to tell before. That story is that we really are a gem of a school, but that has been hidden from the world for a while now. We want to make sure that is no longer hidden.”
LeSane cited many areas where Allegheny has been one of the leading colleges, including being the eighth college overall in the United States to reach carbon neutrality.
Link reinforced the idea that the rebranding process was more than just a tagline, and that it was the true authentic core of who and what Allegheny was as an institution.
“This is us really being able to put the shared belief system and understanding of who we are into words,” Link said. “Again, we have had a very low visibility in the past, which is something we are trying to change with this process.”
Link explained that the whole process spanned over “hundreds” of people, and included new projects such as microsites and brochures, along with updating the current website.
The project also includes being able to spread stories from alumni, both recent and less recent, and the “tremendous” things that they have been able to do after graduation with their unique major and minor combinations.
“We’ve had alums that have said their career was only possible because of their Allegheny experience,” Link said. “That is another thing we are trying to get out there with this campaign, that Allegheny makes you a someone, not just a something.”
Much of the new brand includes a focus on Allegheny students being able to be more just than one thing, and with an included message of students being able to be anything.
Four characteristics of this new brand for students are: inquisitive, persuasive, confident and intellectual.
“These are all qualities that we seek to push in our students,” Link said. “Our faculty push our students all the time, but our students come back and push and challenge our faculty right back.”
Link emphasized that most colleges train their students for the job market, specifically one job, wherein today’s generation, people do not necessarily remain in only one job. She added that students are looking for individuality, and Allegheny gives them a chance to have that individuality.
According to Link, the rebranding project was focused on gearing Allegheny towards Gen Z students, and providing those students with a unique, engaged experience.
“We really think that at the heart of Allegheny is that if you change how you learn you change who you can be,” Link said. “And everyone learns differently. There is a question of why would a college only provide students one way to learn? And here at Allegheny, we give more than that, and we try to provide students more than just answers.”
Link re-emphasized that Allegheny students have the option of being more than just one thing, and of learning what and who they are through these options that they are given.
“Sometimes as a student, you have to try everything, and you also have to fail sometimes,” Link said. “But you also sometimes have to succeed out of the lines.”
The college’s new viewbook for prospective students was revealed last week along with the new tagline, “Learn outside the lines.”
The new viewbook includes graphics focused on being visually appealing to younger generations of students, such as those in their sophomore or junior years of high school. It also includes stories from alumni, including one story of an alum who helped to create the Environmental Writing class and minor. There are also highlights of the college included in the viewbook, such as the focus on sustainability.
“It is really supposed to be just cute and catchy,” Link said. “We really want to get younger students excited about coming to Allegheny.”
Also included with the microsites, is short 30-second videos, focusing on some of the more unique aspects of Allegheny, including the major and minor combination.
“We hope people will see all of this and say ‘that’s Allegheny,’ and feel a sense of pride,” Link said. “We know this is an extraordinary institution, but we want to let others know, too.”
Cole added that the brand of the college is meant to be truly authentic as to what the college is as an institution.
“It really is an internal sense of who we are,” Cole said. “If it was not authentic, it wouldn’t work. I really think there is a bold pride about who we are, in this. But this was not an overnight process, it really took a long time, to help with that authenticity.”
LeSane emphasized his hope that the new brand would help to reenergize the community and to have a positive impact on the college.
“I think this is something that we should all be excited about,” LeSane said. “It really is a reminder on why Allegheny is such a special place.”