New IC marketing campaign brings change to college apparel and more
On Aug. 31, Ithaca College declared itself “Ready” for national attention when it launched a new marketing and rebranding campaign. The college’s new promotional materials aim to intrigue prospective students while staying true to the legacy behind the Bombers’ blue and gold.
“Before this branding initiative, there was no consistency as far as our visual identity or the messages people were hearing about Ithaca College. They are going to see far more consistency now,” Rachel Reuben, associate vice president for marketing communications, said.
Mindpower, Inc. developed the “Ready” campaign, inspired by market research conducted by Simpson Scarborough and a collection of student, alumni and faculty success stories. Mindpower, Inc. is a brand strategy and execution agency out of Atlanta, Ga.
Ithaca College would not disclose the cost of the new campaign. Reuben wrote, in response to final inquiry:
Details of the College’s budget are considered confidential proprietary information, so I’m not able to provide you with the specific amount we paid Mindpower and Simpson Scarborough for the development of our brand identity platform and the two market research studies we conducted as part of that effort over the last year.
According to Scott Hamula, Ithaca College associate professor and chair of Strategic Communication, these marketing efforts have been done perfectly, combining both qualitative and quantitative marketing for the final product.
“Many four-year colleges and universities have realized the need for marketing and the benefits from marketing,” said Hamula. “There is a competition for students to attract the best and the brightest.”
According to the Ithaca College website: “A 2009 alumni opinion study; a series of focus groups conducted with students, faculty, staff and alumni in the fall of 2010; and a survey distributed to over 20,000 administrators at other higher education institutions, prospective students and Ithaca College faculty and staff helped spark the “Ready” concept.”
Over the next year, there will be a number of “Ready”-themed advertisements running in newspapers, magazines and online. The school will be particularly targeting Facebook, Google and The New York Times. In three years, the college will evaluate the success of the advertising with market research similar to what was conducted last year.
Although television advertisements are not in the plan for this fiscal year, Rueben says the ads will not be ruled out for the future. The college hopes to incorporate advertisement rolls for Internet video clips by spring.
Some students have voiced concern over the new marketing, noting that it has a “community college” feel. Hamula disputes this, saying the brand captures the essence of the college.
The Office of Marketing Communications also created a new logo that encompasses a shield. There are four secondary logos, each of which have different applications. The college obtained a federal trademark for the words “Ithaca College,” “Bombers,” “Bomber Nation,” and “IC” in May and is currently in the process of implementing the new licensing.
If student organizations would like to use the trademarked phrases, they must undergo a new set of procedures.
Joshua Keniston, who received his bachelor’s in Communications Marketing and Design from Ithaca College in 2008, thinks the logo looks relevant for today.
“It is always sad to see what you are familiar with change, but it is good for today and keeping up with the times,” he said.
The Ithaca College Bookstore will be introducing apparel with the new branding. Because of the trademark, all materials in the bookstore will need to be approved by marketing in order to have any of the trademarked phrases. Apparel will now be restricted to five “official” colors: navy blue, gold, black, white and gray.
Rick Watson, director of the college bookstore, said all items, including school supplies and water bottles, must stay within these color limitations.
“Are people going to buy it because it says Ithaca College, or are they going to stop buying it because there are no fun colors?” Watson asked.
Watson said that when the bookstore first offered sweatshirts in a variety of colors, they sold 250 sweatshirts in just three days. Without those color options, sales could decline drastically.
Businesses that wish to sell Ithaca College apparel must be approved and pay for the right to use the college’s name. The college is clear that the licensing is designed to protect the college’s identity, not to earn money, Watson said.
Students are also involved in the rebranding process, contributing to their work experience and personal portfolios. Currently, Park Design House students are working with marketing to create more uniform posters and standard designs for promotional materials, and the 20 students on the staff of Fuse Magazine conducted interviews for the “Ready” campaign profiles.
“The stories are cool to see,” said Keniston. “They’ll keep alumni engaged and hopefully bring in more prospective students.”
With a sleek logo and flashy website, the college is channeling their Bomber spirit to be fierce competitors in this aggressive market. Hopefully current students are ready to embrace this new appearance – and lack of tie-dye clothing.
Megan McGinnes is a sophomore journalism major who will tie-dye her new Ithaca swag. Email her at mmcginn1[at]ithaca.edu.