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What if your best-fit students weren’t on the student council in high school, didn’t ace every subject, and don’t know what they’re capable of yet?

At some colleges, this student would be left to flounder. But at Marymount California University, everyone from overachieving superstars to uninvolved procrastinators can thrive, thanks to personal attention that helps them blossom. With a little nudge from their professors to try things they never expected, these students aim higher — and go after a Grammys internship, study in Cyprus for a semester, and land a SpaceX job.

Flagship stories celebrate Marymount’s tight-knit community and show prospects how small means more. Here students can gain more connections with faculty, more unique approaches to class and more chances to prove themselves.

Through uplifting phrases and energetic graphics, MCU’s new brand concept showcases a hands-on learning environment where faculty members inspire students to explore, create and do more in real time.

Marymount California University


  • Reverse enrollment and retention declines by attracting best-fit students who will blossom here.
  • Play up SoCal for its breadth of experiences, instead of relying on the campus’ beachfront view as the main selling point.
  • Change lingering perceptions that MCU is still a two-year university.


Circle Graphic PL


The brand highlights MCU’s strong interactive experiences, celebrates small and reframes location as an extension of the student experience — all to attract more best-fit students.

Circle Graphic star


Created a brand platform and visual identity that communicates a fresher, more approachable and relevant voice.

Circle Graphic EX


Marymount’s admissions microsite and search brochure won top awards from the Education Digital Marketing Awards.

Marymount California University
Marymount California University
Marymount California University
Marymount California University

Don’t just say “real world.” Show it.

Marymount expanded the meaning behind “real world” to be about more than just internships. Its new communications tools show MCU students hitting their stride and rising to their potential in hands-on projects, real client work, meeting industry experts, connecting with supportive faculty and living out other career-driving experiences:

  • Business major Cody Rosa leveraged his internship with SpaceX into a full-time role at the spacecraft company’s headquarters.
  • Digital communication major Thea Domingo landed a hyper-competitive internship with the Grammys, where she met nominees ranging from La La Land director to a songwriter behind 30+ Top 10 hits.
  • Business major Hunter Ryan is diversifying his experiences near and far — from filming documentaries to interning in Thailand to studying in Italy.
  • Digital communication major Dominique Vazquez documented a Tokyo-to-San Francisco swim as an editing intern for The Discovery Channel’s The Swim scientific expedition.

Brand photography shows learning in action, including annotated classroom shots that make you feel like you’re there. Type resembling hand-cut letters and loose swashes of color convey this hands-on approach and resulting personal growth.


It’s true. Marymount’s view is breathtaking.

From MCU’s hilltop campus in Rancho Palos Verdes, blue skies and glistening sunbeams cover the Pacific Ocean as far as the eye can see. But its location is more than just the view.

Despite the dramatic view, talking about MCU’s location can be challenging. Here’s why:

Los Angeles natives consider MCU’s coastal campus to be outside LA (Rancho Palos Verdes is a different city, don’t you know?). But out-of-towners see campus as an extension of all LA offers. They’re both right.

MCU’s close proximity to Los Angeles and the largest container port in the United States connects students with career experiences near and far. The new brand embraces SoCal and shows off the culture, excitement and career opportunities of the big city and the outdoor beauty of serene beaches and mountains.

The color palette and imagery reflect MCU’s scenic coastal campus. And student stories reinforce the interactive learning opportunities in and out of the classroom, unexpected internships and real career connections students have at MCU.

Change perceptions about offerings

Because MCU was historically a two-year institution and hadn’t marketed its more recent four-year degree offerings, many current students and prospects didn’t know they could earn a bachelor’s degree at MCU.

The brand needed to change perceptions about MCU’s offerings and promote the university’s signature bachelor’s degrees — in addition to its four-year guarantee.

New communications tools — from an admissions microsite to a major-focused mini email campaign targeting students based on their interests — spotlight MCU’s four-year degrees and connect students and prospects with real examples of what they can accomplish in each field.

Make your website an integral part of your branding

While MCU prepared for a full site redesign, Zehno launched an admissions microsite that put the brand front and center. The microsite incorporated key brand elements that are usually reserved for print — swashes of color, line drawings, graphic marks and funky type — to bring the brand to life on the web.

The microsite was an important short-term win for the brand and the university, putting the brand online in front of the most eyes. Marymount was able to attract students immediately, while a full-scale website redesign with a much bigger budget and timeline was simultaneously underway.

When the full site redesign was ready to take off, Marymount partnered with Zehno and mStoner — a digital agency focused on higher education and marketing — on a new website centered on the new brand. It helps drive admissions by attracting right-fit students.

Marymount California University
Marymount California University

What Zehno did

  • Brand audit and strategic recommendations.
  • Brand platform.
  • Brand vision.
  • Flagship content including profiles and photo shoot.
  • Admissions travel brochure.
  • Admissions profiles brochure.
  • Veterans admissions brochure.
  • MBA campaign.
  • Prospective student email campaign.
  • Acceptance packet.
  • Admissions microsite.
  • Website redesign writing and consulting.
  • Billboards and environmental signage.
Marymount California University
Marymount California University

Tips for your team

  1. If you’re not ready for a university website redesign, put a microsite in play now that gets your full website redesign rolling and sharpens what prospects need to know. That way, you won’t turn off prospects with inconsistent brand experiences.
  2. Create major-focused mini campaigns to give students what they’re looking for. They’ll also give admissions staff talking points for every program.

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