A Degree of Difference
If you look at advertisements from any number of colleges and universities, you may notice a few similarities. Most college ads suggest that their institutions are worth attending because they are “unique” or “different,” that they offer students something that sets them apart from the pack.
But how “unique” or “different” are most universities, and what makes one or another truly stand out from the rest?
Newman University officials recently took a close look at these and related questions, and undertook a far-reaching, comprehensive effort to learn how the concepts of unique and different apply to Newman in a way that is both convincing and authentic. The result was a new branding campaign for the university that seeks to show prospective students how Newman truly does offer “A Degree of Difference.”
“Branding has become a vital part of any successful enterprise, whether it be athletic gear, soft drinks, computers or universities,” said Newman Director of University Relations Clark Schafer. “To be successful and cut through the clutter in today’s information-overload world, a company, an organization – even certain individuals – must be instantly recognizable in a way that communicates value and authenticity. If it’s appealing and it rings true, people will remember.”
As Schafer noted, just think of companies like Nike and its “Just Do It” slogan, Apple and its distinctive logo, or Lexus or Mercedes-Benz and their image of quality.
With these thoughts in mind, Schafer and a Newman marketing committee – a team of personnel from every corner of the university – set out to create a brand that clearly represents the spirit, personality, strengths and benefits of Newman University.
The effort began in the spring of 2016 with a series of focus groups that numbered 50 individuals, who were asked to define what makes Newman unique. From those discussions, the marketing committee analyzed the feedback and began to collect the comments into a few broad categories, such as the strength of our faculty and staff, a challenging curriculum with a supportive environment, a high future job success rate for students, and others.
The group then brought these ideas to a university-wide meeting, where all faculty and staff were asked to identify what individuals and departments do and can do to make Newman unique. Former advertising executive and Board of Trustees Member Gerry Killeen journeyed from New York several times to assist in the effort (see story in the Fall 2016 Newman University Magazine). From all of these meetings, several themes began to emerge:
Newman is different because every student is treated as a valuable member of the community. Students receive individual attention and form strong relationships with faculty and other students. Faculty are dedicated to mentoring students, ensuring that they are positioned for academic success.
Other observations from faculty and staff expanded on these ideas. For example, Newman teaches students the skills employers want most: problem-solving, written and verbal communication, and critical thinking. Through the Newman Studies Program and other curricula, Newman teaches students not just facts, but how to think. Newman graduates excel at professional and licensure tests. For the past five years, for example, Newman nursing graduate pass rates have consistently been above state and national averages for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX), with similar success rates in other healthcare related and allied health majors. In addition, 95 percent of Newman pre-med graduates who applied over the past 15 years were accepted into medical schools.
Newman also instills in students the importance of ethical behavior, high moral standards and values. Newman respects diversity in cultures, religion, academics, and encourages students to find and celebrate their personal truths. As a result, students leave Newman prepared to make a difference in their personal lives, their careers and their communities. In recent years, 94 percent of Newman graduates were employed or in graduate school within one year of graduation. And in 2016, Newman students performed 260,401 hours of community service.
From these and other facets of the university, the marketing committee defined what it is that makes Newman unique in its academic, social and spiritual character: Newman, in so many ways, offers “A Degree of Difference.” And as the stories on the following pages show, it’s a difference that can be felt on our campus, is evident in what we do for our community, is realized in the work of our alumni, and is continually made manifest by our students.Tags: Branding