Working simultaneously in print and digital mediums, we recently created a series of next-generation admissions marketing tools for students eyeing a spot at the University of Pennsylvania College of Arts & Sciences.
Since the majority of the College’s prospects are young, tech-savvy high school seniors, the Penn team felt it was important that their marketing materials feel fresh, updated, and contemporary. Of course, at the same time, we wanted to respect the long-standing traditions and preserve the essence of the approved brand guidelines for Penn — one of the oldest and most highly regarded universities in the United States.
Starting with a comprehensive discovery and content strategy for a new website, we established three main priorities: create navigation that is based on the needs of site users rather than the internal organization; establish a clear path to strong landing pages that "pitch" prospective students on what makes the College unique; and reinforce the sense of pride current students have in the institution.
On the content management side, we incorporated new tools that enable site administrators to easily maintain the rich and diverse content contained on the site. Especially noteworthy features include flexible content centralization, which allows information to appear in a variety of different contexts while being easily updated in one shared location. In addition, a new tour feature allows admins to guide different users through specific areas of the website based on who they are — an especially valuable tool for new students, who can follow the pages through each consecutive stop in the tour, or jump to any other page of interest at any time.
The design framework we created for the College was also adapted and applied to the website for Penn's overarching School of Arts & Sciences by the School's internal team.
Applying what we learned from the website discovery, we created a traditional print viewbook that was guided by the College’s dual established themes of “Education for a Lifetime,” a nod to the fact that what students learn at Penn stays with them forever, and a flexible “Make It Your Own” message that applies to the curriculum.
Because we wanted to use authentic stories to weave those messages throughout the viewbook, we commissioned one of our esteemed photography vendors to conduct a photo shoot to capture candid imagery of current Penn CAS students in action. Providing art direction throughout this process, we conveyed the team’s vision, suggested photo edits to ensure that the images conveyed uplifting feelings of optimism and hope, and oversaw the final results. In the end, we were able to incorporate the photos on a large scale with a nice rhythm throughout each spread, and included personal quotes to lend an additional element of personalization to the project.
While Penn’s traditional tones of red and blue are prevalent throughout the university’s marketing portfolio, we decided to use these familiar colors in background and accent areas, and instead leverage the power of some unexpected color choices, including a deep purple and warm yellow, as well as a generous amount of white space. During the printing process, the book was also treated with a double hit of varnish that added extra shine, calling the reader’s attention to key geometric graphic elements, text boxes, and secondary titles — an effect that is subtle, yet engaging at the same time.
We also took advantage of the unique opportunity to convert some of the static print graphic elements into interactive items online, such as a First Destinations feature that now includes animated infographics that relay relevant employment and graduate study statistics.
The end result? These complementary marketing tools converge to provide a highly relatable experience for prospective students — especially those who may feel intimidated by competing for a highly coveted spot at Penn’s College of Arts & Sciences — and give them insight into this warm and welcoming campus through the eyes of students who are currently enrolled.