How do prospects first experience your brand? Are you hooking them from the get-go?

In an increasingly dog-eat-dog education market, where institutions are vying for some of the same prospects using the same channels, you need to stand out.

What’s the secret to making a glowing first impression? Approach design with unconventional thinking that makes your communications memorable — while getting your brand messages across.

Whether you’re trying to convert prospective students, parents or donors, draw inspiration from these examples to build brand confidence and audience affinity.


#1

Cover Collective

Project

TCU Neeley School of Business MBA viewbook

Why we DID

How to appeal to specific audiences using your best hero shots? The full-time MBA viewbook features four different covers wrapping the same sets of internal pages.

WHY IT WORKS

Taking a cue from consumer magazines like Runner’s World that deliver covers based on a reader’s age group or geography, TCU’s four covers feature four diverse heroes.

And because the viewbook was digitally printed, the four versions weren’t costly to produce.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

Your prospects want to see themselves at your school, so pinpoint whatever resonates most with them and represent that in your cover collective.

Multiple covers can be a simple, budget-savvy solution to communicating your brand story. Ask yourself some serious questions to define your best-fit prospects. Should you create multiple covers that could appeal to parents vs. students? Locals vs. out-of-staters? Traditional age vs. nontrads?


#2

BRAIN TEASER

PROJECT

Washington and Lee University magazine

WHAT WE DID

Drawing on the Stroop effect—a psychological phenomenon in brain flexibility—W&L Magazine’s cover gives its “green” issue a colorful spin.

WHY IT WORKS

Is there some kind of cosmic rule that says every school’s “green” issue has to be so…you know…green? A cover is a perfect place to make a reader pause and take notice.

W&L gives the ubiquitous topic of sustainability a fresh perspective — and not just on its cover. The stories inside are anything but ordinary: from an architect/sculptor team that turned a retired Icelandic ferry into a floating home to an entrepreneur fashioning high-end mountaineer gear with minimal impact on the planet.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

Don’t be so literal. Give your covers a surprising twist and your content the personality it deserves.


#3

THE BIG REVEAL

PROJECT

University of Holy Cross acceptance packet

WHAT WE DID

While most schools mail ho-hum certificates for admitted students to snap an “I got in!” selfie with, UHC’s acceptance packet unfolds into a bold 18 by 24-inch poster scaled perfectly for Instagram sharing.

WHY IT WORKS

A Gold award winner from Educational Digital Marketing Awards, UHC’s acceptance packet builds excitement because it feels a bit like unwrapping a gift and entices students to share their news immediately.

The poster spotlights UHC’s brand concept “Do Good. Do Well.” It also features a signature campus image to highlight the college’s important next chapter: invigorating its campus life by opening its first-ever residence hall.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

Entice admitted students to interact with your pieces by using Instagram-worthy graphics. If you make your tools memorable, you’ll inch students closer to yield while you build brand loyalty.


 #4

Brand signifier

PROJECT

Marymount California University admissions microsite

WHAT WE DID

MCU’s admissions microsite puts the brand front and center, serving as the new flashy front door while Marymount reworks its overall university website.

WHY IT WORKS

It incorporates 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. And instead of trying to catalog everything at the university, the microsite hits only the lead messages that matter most to its student prospects.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

Realign your digital brand to match your print tools. You can wait ages for your university website to be finished. Or you could 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.


#5

Multidimensional portrait

PROJECT

Tulane University School of Medicine magazine

WHAT WE DID

Through a portrait within a portrait, Tulane Med magazine’s cover story takes readers beyond clinicals and lab coats. The cover feature highlights Tulane’s talent-spotting programs that turn students pursuing non-traditional tracks like theater into future doctors.

WHY IT WORKS

It tells both the individual story and the bigger brand story.

Jordan Eisenberg, pictured on the cover, starred in the Tulane production of The Bald Soprano as a creative premedical scholar and theatre major before starting medical school.

And Tulane University’s new “stand apart” brand emphasizes Tulane as a community where people stand for something. This cover calls out a student’s “stand apart” element as a mix of professional and personal interests.

HOW TO MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU

Don’t let your people come across as drably one-dimensional. Photograph them pursuing their hobbies, not just their schoolwork. Show them multitasking in multiple majors and minors. Pair stories of their professions with tales of their personal passions.

LEARN MORE

Whether you’re managing a new brand after launch or story mining for a magazine, Zehno can help shape how audiences view your institution. Read more about our content development services.