Cedar Rapids, IA, March 21, 2016—Saint Mary’s College, a Catholic women’s college, is a higher education gem in Indiana, and on March 1, 2016, its website was announced as Best of Show in the Thirty-First Annual Education Advertising Awards, sponsored by Higher Education Marketing Report.
Saint Mary’s is a place, as its tagline so aptly conveys, “where searching becomes discovering.” But until a recent rebranding campaign, the school had a problem.
“The college has a great history, but it wasn’t great at advertising itself,” says Chuck Reed, senior vice president of client services at Stamats Communications, a higher education marketing company based out of Cedar Rapids. “The website was part of an overall brand campaign to update the image and capture the personality and energy of the college. That personality became the platform for the brand.”
Designing the new website as well as fresh print publications, Stamats collaborated with The Thorburn Group, its Minneapolis-based branding partner—which has worked with such labels as Disney, Harley-Davidson, Target, and Porsche—to update Saint Mary’s image and give it a strong presence in the region. Part of this process was finding ways to challenge some of the negative public perceptions of Saint Mary’s that came from its status as a Catholic women’s college: convent-like, stuffy, and restrictive. The answer, says Reed, was in the student body:
“The students are genuinely challenged by their education and are very smart. They have a very engaged and genuine experience at Saint Mary’s. The website needed to show an attitude as much as the basics. The true personality of Saint Mary’s and the community was the key. It was the strongest thing about the institution.”
From the look, feel, color, and tone to the character, voice, and photography, the brand team focused on capturing the special, authentic experience that is Saint Mary’s. As a result, what was once a task-based interface that neither conveyed the school’s personality nor effectively reached the school’s intended audiences is now an engaging website that tells a story, makes an emotional connection with its visitors, has a targeted message, and is easily navigable.
“[The college] has a lot of character,” says Collette Litzinger, brand engagement director at The Thorburn Group. “The students take real action in the world and feel a real responsibility to the community, social justice, and making real change. We said several times as we were working that it’s not just about doing, it’s about doing good. Historically, the college stems from the Sisters of the Holy Cross, and their mission is about doing good in the world, so that’s in [the college’s] roots.”
And now, with vivid colors, lush photography, and an energizing message, that same spirit is also reflected in Saint Mary’s web presence and print brochures—as well as celebrated in this year’s Annual Education Advertising Awards.
About Stamats Communications:
Stamats is a leading marketing and research company providing a complete range of services including websites, content marketing, email, magazines, video, research, traditional media, live events, and database marketing. Stamats focuses on distinct markets to gain unique category knowledge and experience that it brings to bear for the benefit of Stamats’ clients. These markets are higher education, commercial building operation and management, commercial building interior design, professional meeting planning, and healthcare. Through its subsidiary, The Thorburn Group, Stamats provides consumer marketing services to Fortune 500 companies. Stamats was founded in 1923 and today maintains offices in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (headquarters); Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Contact: Guy Wendler
President and CEO, Stamats Communications