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How to Earn an A+ in Strong Higher Ed Branding

130 years of history.

100 educational disciplines.

6,000 students.

1 dedicated camel. 

It all adds up to Campbell University.

University president Dr. J. Bradley Creed wanted to expand Campbell’s message to reach a nationwide audience. In order to do so, Campbell University needed to strengthen their higher ed brand. As a result, they chose Atlantic BT as their branding partner.

Researching the Existing Higher Ed Brand

Atlantic BT believes that effective knowledge comes from extensive research. We began the brand project accordingly with a two-fold discovery process. First, we needed to establish a base knowledge of the current Campbell brand. This required us to analyze its strengths and weaknesses. Next, we needed a clear understanding of Campbell’s goals. Additionally, we needed to know which aspects of the current brand could change and which must remain the same.

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First, we learned the Campbell brand didn’t apply to one central school domain. There were multiple schools and departments within the university, each with their own purpose and message. However, they all fell under the same banner. Balancing unity with autonomy was tricky. It required thoughtful communication and consideration. This in mind, ABT spent time with each department. During these meetings, they would share their messaging and brand needs. Listening was key to the entire branding process. It was imperative to understanding and appreciating the entire Campbell story.

Several surveys, created by ABT, measured how many people across the region, state, and country had heard of Campbell University. We also made note of what their perceptions were. We conducted interviews among stakeholders inside and outside the university. This ranged from faculty to administrators to students. ABT was able to learn which aspects of the university’s existing brand were already strongly established. By comparison, we could also see which areas required more emphasis. 

Collaborating to Build the New Higher Ed Brand

After outlining the current status of the Campbell brand and crafting a plan to move forward, ABT began the creative process in earnest. We worked alongside Campbell’s Communications and Marketing team. Both teams would come together weekly to discuss and share brand ideas and concepts. Campbell would bring new brand mark designs to the table. ABT would provide feedback. Accordingly, adjustments would be made to make Campbell’s vision stronger.

While the branding project was being developed, ABT was in the process of redesigning Campbell’s website. Capturing Campbell’s chosen design aesthetic and enabling it to be effective on the website helped improve the UX for all consumers. Concurrently, it elevated the standing of the Campbell brand.    

During the rebranding process, one thing became certain; Kivett Hall would be the literal icon of Campbell University. It was a powerful symbol of triumph in the face of loss. The building represented resolve in times of struggle. Most importantly, it resonated deeply within the Campbell community. Clearly, it was a source of pride in their university. Our teams worked together to establish the new brand mark featuring Kivett Hall.

Uniting the Past and the Future

Kivett hall Campbell brand mark
The new brand mark of Campbell University featured Kivett Hall.

But even as Campbell honored their past, the brand also needed to look forward. The university was founded with a Baptist affiliation. Their Christian identity stood out among other colleges state and nationwide. Campbell would never deter from this core part of their identity. However, in their search for the best possible students, they wanted to welcome all people, regardless of religion, to their institution. This introduced a unique brand challenge. How could we strike the balance between the past and the future? It was necessary to maintain the Christian identity that was the school’s specific selling point. But it was equally important to expand that ideal into something more universal and inclusive.

ABT was ready to address this challenge. We wanted to craft a brand slogan that managed to convey two things. It would encompass the spiritual foundation Campbell stood on. Also, it would avoid any specificity that could unintentionally isolate the university. We worked through phrasing with the Campbell team. The aim was to capture the essence of living a faith-based life and how it could connect with a diverse student base. ‘Lead With Purpose’ was the result. It effectively established Campbell as a place where students can prepare to grow as leaders in their field. Campbell students shared a common dedication to serving a higher purpose—and by extension, the world around them.

The Future of the New Higher Ed Brand

In order for a brand to grow into an established foundation, it needs to be timeless. It must be able to evolve with changing times and a variety of media. Furthermore, the brand must maintain continuity. This in mind, we provided application guidelines for the Campbell team. These guidelines provided long term support. They would help the team make the strongest choices for brand use in the future.

The guidelines represented an official ‘handing over’ of the project. They allowed others to use the brand effectively in all areas of marketing and communication. We offered suggestions on how to adapt the brand across various media. For example, we specified that Campbell use an orange color that would be compliant with common web browsers. These suggestions were outlined with photographic examples and content formats.

Empowering our clients to use the brands we helped define is a vital part of an ABT partnership. Campbell University was built on a foundation of community. They accommodate to their growing ranks. Most importantly, they always make room for more. Campbell’s new higher ed brand is one of leadership and camaraderie. It allows the university family to grow. Atlantic BT is proud of the partnership established with Campbell. The work created by two united teams fulfilled the Campbell ideal of leading with purpose.

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