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When Loyola University New Orleans partnered with Zehno for rebranding, we highlighted the common thread running throughout the Loyola academic experience: creative thinking.

The new brand concept, “Create something meaningful,” spotlights how students across all majors use creative thinking to change the world. Conveying this academic strength, along with Loyola’s offbeat and socially conscious culture, led to an enrollment turnaround in the first year.

Loyola University New Orleans


  • Reverse the trend of enrollment declines by attracting more best-fit students.
  • Appeal more to Generation Z.
  • Show off a prestigious, affordable education that mixes liberal arts with career prep.
  • Play up New Orleans as part of a signature college experience.
  • Reflect Loyola’s Jesuit heritage as a socially responsible community where students change the world for the better.


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Enrollment GOALS Exceeded

33-percent jump in enrollment in Year 1, with 800+ prospective students paying tuition deposits to secure their spots

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“Loyola bucks national enrollment trend” was a typical headline.

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Loyola won the only gold for department branding and a silver for student recruitment publications in the 2018 CASE Circle of Excellence Awards, as well as top awards from Collegiate Advertising Awards, Educational Advertising Awards and American Advertising Awards.

Loyola University New Orleans


Loyola University New Orleans


Loyola University New Orleans


Making the most of location

You’re probably stuck with your institution’s location. But can you change how people think about it?

Multiple surveys showed that Loyola’s New Orleans location was divisive. The good news was that half of respondents imagined it as a great place to go to college. The bad news was the other half of the audience was saying, “No way.”

That’s understandable. If you appreciate the city’s deep history, quirky culture, shabby chic vibe and “warm” weather, you’re probably in that first group. But if your perception of NOLA is limited to Bourbon Street bars, Mardi Gras and Hurricane Katrina, you may think of the city as a place to visit, but not to live and study.

Because Loyola is so intertwined with the city, part of the marketing challenge was to broaden people’s idea of New Orleans. Here are some ways the new branded materials demonstrate the advantage of living and learning in New Orleans:

Highlight NOLA’s various scenes

There’s more to this town than parades and parties! New materials show off the city’s many “scenes” — some well-known and others surprising:

  • Tech scene: New Orleans has been voted #3 best city for tech jobs (Forbes) and coolest startup city in America ( One Loyola class pitches its app ideas during New Orleans Entrepreneur Week.
  • Food: You can sample 28 James Beard-award-winning chefs and restaurants within 6 miles of campus. So no more complaints about dining hall food!
  • Festivals: NOLA’s fabled music festivals extend from EDM to indie: Essence Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, BUKU Music + Art Project and others.
  • More scenes: sports, history, outdoors, etc. Explore them all to find your scene.
Loyola University New Orleans

Highlight the academic connections between school and city

On the academic side, the city is like a learning lab. It’s a place where Loyola students try out what they’re learning. Many course assignments take students out into the community, research projects often have a local or regional angle, and campus clubs often focus on improving lives in the local community. Some examples:

  • Teaching science classes at the children’s museum.
  • Turning Mardi Gras World parade warehouse into a free dental clinic.
  • Transcribing audio interviews with Woody Guthrie for the city’s music archives.
  • Tracking biodiversity on the bayous near the city.
  • Rolling out a PR campaign for a new payment system that local artists can use to maximize their profits.

Visually portray the feel of the city

Every neighborhood has its own flair — from Uptown’s mansions to the French Quarter’s iron balconies to the Marigny’s quirky shotgun houses. That’s one reason NOLA is a popular setting for movie productions.

For Loyola’s new branding, we captured the textures of the city through photography and illustration. Profiles were often shot both on campus and out in the city. Backdrops ranged from streetcar routes to funky murals to tropical greenery, along with classic campus hot spots. Illustrations used varied line widths and hints of roughness to mimic the city’s grit.

What Zehno did

  • Brand audit: Audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Brand platform.
  • Brand vision.
  • Flagship content including profiles and photo shoots.
  • Admissions campaign: Undergrad viewbook, search piece, program brochures and other items.
  • Magazine redesign.
  • Brand workshop to train Loyola’s internal staff on using the brand assets and ensure a smooth handoff.
  • And more.
Loyola University New Orleans

Tips for your team

  1. Use environmental graphics to showcase your brand in public spaces. Your on-campus audience matters.
  2. Play up your location as more than a place to live. Show it as a place to learn.
  3. Make your photo shoots shine by encouraging photo subjects — in this case Loyola’s creative people — to be their authentic selves. Don’t be afraid to photograph the campus mermaid, if you have one. Let some quirks show through.

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