The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode 3 · 8 months ago

Creating an Adaptable Brand Promise in the Age of Social Media


On today’s episode, Bart Caylor, President & Founder at Caylor Solutions Inc, and Troy Singer, Senior Account Executive at Think Patented, chat with Deedie Dowdle, Vice President for Communications and Marketing at DePauw University about:

- Working internally to create university marketing campaigns

- Creating a brand promise that captures your university’s core values

- Engaging students, professors, and alumni in the creative process

- Evolving current and future university marketing campaigns

Know of a higher education marketing change agent you’d like to hear on the show? Does your university have an interesting story to be featured?

Connect with Bart Caylor or Troy Singer. If you’re not on LinkedIn, check the Caylor Solutions or Think Patented.

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to The Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

The Best Fran promises at there arethose, in my opinion that people begin to define for themselves and when youlet go with thout control a little bit and let others define and Nhey getpersonal to themselves. You find out things that impossibilities and createdthat Yahad't even bought us. You were listening to the Higher EdMarketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in highereducation. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student,recreaitment, donut relations, marketing, trans new technologies andso much more. If you are looking for conversation centered around where theindustry is going, this podcast is for you, let's get into the show, welcome to the High Red MarketingPodcast, I'm troy singer, and I'm here with my co host Bart Caylor. How is itgoing today Bart? Try IT'S GOING WELL! Thank you for asking how about you. Iam wonderful and, as always, excited to get into our conversation with today'shigher red marketer. Today our topic is branding for your school. braining isword that we often toss around, but it isn't as easy as it seems tell us aboutthe day's guest bar yeah. We're going to be talking to Dedi Dowdel. She isthe vice president of marketing and communications at Depau University, andit's going to be a good conversation because I think you're right. We oftenconsider branding to be a lot of things that it is 'td. Isn't I mean? Sometimesit gets confused with the logo or with the tag line, but I think is DD's goingto explain to us it's a lot more than that and it's really a way to reallydifferentiate your school. So true, so without any further ado, I'm excited to welcome DD Davil VicePresident for Communications and marketing at Dhepaul University to theconversation. Thank you for joining this DD. Thank you. It's good good tobe here, troy and part DD before our professional conversation. Could youshare one or two things about your personal life, to give everyone aflavor about who you are? Well, I don't know it seems like in ayear with a pandemic gets. Maybe do we all still know who we are. We Evegotting to know wher, FIMS, better or maybe gone a little crazy, but so I I am at depaule university. I'vebeen here for three years and I have been in Higer ID for longer than I careto mention and prior to that, worked in that agency business much like KaylorSolutions, O that side of the House and private sector. So it's been aninteresting UN, although I think all of us and higher en would say nothing hasbeen more interested than than the past year or so you know I, but I'm Iconsider myself lucky to pause a great place and it's an interesting time tobe part and higher an probably more than even if it's not fun, certainlyinteresting, that's great and DDY. When we first spoke about doing the podcast,you were telling us a little bit about the new Brandon campaign that DEPArecently launched. Maybe you can tell us a little bit more about that as wekind of get into the professional part of the conversation sure I jot it downa few nuts here because it seems like it's been. I guess we launched it intwo thousand and nineteen and the latter half of two thousand andnineteen, which was interesting because we did things in a little bit of areverse order. I could say I would not recomnend this at home. It's not thetypical way that we would want to do things I think in higher educationinstitutions. I worked at previously. Grandy was very much about doing thatresearch doing all that homework, engaging your constituents and that isa tried, intrue process. That's desirable, however, because of a numberof things that were happening at the paw and surrounding te Pau. At thatpoint, including a presidential transition. We had to put some thingson pause, and so we had. We shared the campaign idea and creative and when Isaid the CAMPAIGNI was', the brand really grand promised that we had andsome research discovery. We had done from the past couple of years with thetrustees in the cabinet over the summer...

...and they really liked it and didn'twant to delay despite the presidential transition, and so we launched, asstudents were coming in, that coll of two thousand and nineteen and then, asyou know, we were in market for or five months and the bottom fell out of theworld and the bandimic hit, and so right about the time we're ready formeasuring all those results and that that happens prior to that it seemed tobe going really well herewas a lot of enthusiasm and despite the fact thatour constituents didn't see it in advance, they sort of saw it as it wasrolling out. We had done enough testing to know that the idea of gold withinwhich was the brand promise that incaculates what Depolli is and what westand for. We have done enough research to know that it would resonate. We werepretty confident in that, and so we did those thirty to forty presentationswith constituents. At the same time, we were rolling out and market and Arntobelieve you saw some of that in Indianapolis, because that's the that'sour major market, where we no ealon yeah. I was very impressed with it non.I think that it's a great testimonial so Yourto your campaign, an the factthat you know that gold within, I think, says a lot about Depau and kind of whatthat's all about and then to be able to just see the the outcomes on the on thebillboards. I think that was such a a smart move to do it that way and- andyou kind of talked a little bit about some of the challenges with thepresidential transition and then with the pandemic and then also just kind ofh, the order that you had to do things. What did you have to do anything else?As far as really pivoting? In the midst of the pandemic, I mean I'm guessingthat even some of the messaging that you were doing for enrollment had toshift a little bit just because campus visits stopped. You know there was alot of other fects. Absolutely we had to really hit pause on everything therewas, as most of us did when schools Wen al Lot of pologists were closing andsending students home, and we were still very much in the beginnings ofthis virus where we didn't know what what was causing it, where it wascoming. An we didn't know what we know today, and so there was no way that youcan try to be out there with positive advertising on all o, the all thewonderful things that we were doing and those two things that just don't gotogether at all. So so we did have to hit pause. We felt like we had a lot ofmomentum going into it, but we felt it was the right thing to do to hit Pauson that and to get through the rest of the Tim and number one priority at thatpoint became taking care of our students making sure they gatehomesafely everything shifted to internal and focus on the students andcertainly taking care of Ourstaffin Backo at that time, so other than theoutdoor, which of course, was contracted. Everything else t was puton hold until this fall when we re we relarched effer great again grap one ofthe things I think we did do prior to that that we loved about the campaignwas we asked alumni to toticipate in it, so what we did in he Indianapolis area.We found those out standing alumni and also students from local schools inIndianapolis, and we featured them on the outmual boards as representing thatquality that that outscening, not just academic but overall student experiencethat tepule and outcomes that that leads to, which is that gold standardthe Goldedin touches on, and so we had very prominent alumni everyone frombrand Stevens who, in the Indianapolis area we had ceal, is cfos andbroadcasters just terrific alumni who didn't even hesitate, but then at theysaw the concept there they said were in, and you know there was no cost to that.They were happy to pissfate. So I know it was rolled out literally all of thecreative work it was done, andterally enrolled out and in nine days wewatched that outdoor came Hame with almost thirty participants, differentindividuals and that who ere willing to be highlighted- and you told me inadvance- we would have been able to do that if I had time to think about it,yeah s. So how are you? How are you, obviously you have some great storiesar man. Thirty alumni are? U? How are... kind of transitioning that intolike your alumni magazine and other ways? Are you are you kind of takingthat content and then repurposing it in other ways? Yes, absolutely so onlineand with our students, we've spent a lot of time asking students now, onceonce we sort of figured out our pathway forward in the pandemic and andstudents started returning to classes or hybrid and even our elote students.We ask them what you know. What is it that Gol within means to you, becausethe best Fran promises out there are those, in my opinion, that people beginto define for themselves and when you let go ot that control a little bit andlet others define and NHEYGET personal to themselves. You find out things thatamdpossibilities and created that Y hadn't, even thought of so a lot of ourstudents just said: here's what that means to me and then we ask fourprofessors. What does what does that mean to you and internally on that,when I say interlly, but on campus we have banners beature our faculty allover campus, so that students can meet the first year, similar faculty onthose banners and just calling out their quality of gold within theclashroom experience and video and social. We carry that through theHashtag, just Bot going to gold with them Hash Tag. Whenever we talk aboutsomeone, who's done something wonderful on their career pathway or interms of service or giving, and we call that that Golen within spirit which ofcourse relates to a spirit color, which is that whole goal and bringing all ofthat together with the more we've done, the more we said Wy. We can do this andwe can do this and that's that's what I love about a grand concept and a brandpromise that is malleyble and Bateball, and it just kind of takes on life ofits own. And that's when you know I think Youve got some magic, that'spretty cool, that's great, and so I want to go back to something you saidearlier, because you've got. You said that you did most of it internally.We've done some work together, didio that just kind of say that GA iseverybody knows that. But I know that you have a pretty small staff, so youknow tell me about the staff makeup and how you were able to pull off whatyou've done, because you know a lot of schools that are listening to this.They might have just a very small marketing department, maybe one two orthree, maybe five people. I know there are other schools. State schools oftenhave thirty fortn fifty. I know that Eden, Ethan Braden was on a coupleweeks ago on the podcast and he's a Purdu, and he said I have four hundredpeople on campus at you have something to do with communications. The PAdoesn't have four hundred people in marketing and communications. Ut tellus about the makeup of your of Your Department and how I'm sure people weardifferent hats and do different things rolling out o brand campaign on yourown there's a lot of factors, so I will qualify that the same first of all, yesfay, an a small team, I wuld I come and smell, but mighty super creative andjust but we really didn't have. When I came Ahor we did not have a sensalmarketing an communications department. It was. There were really just fourpeople who primarily did design. So we've really just introduced this aftertwo years of building that core central team to service the you know the entirecampus to support and consult with, and most of that was done by justtremendous talent that was located throughout the university that cametogether in a central alarm, so that we could provide those resources. And ofcourse we have outstanding partners in our involement and development andadvancement eras, and so that helps- and we have all those alumni who helpmake up for some of that marketing team. We don't have that. I hear exactly whatyou're saying wore that my previous university, which is actually MiamiUniversity we had had more than- and I know, Jamie's going to be agast ondelightful and wonderful place. Prior to that, I was at Auburn and I'maccustomed to having foty something people in the central. You know area.So having fourteen to do that, you know we have help with research interms of the past couple of years, when I first came in, there was a a thomthat, during the transition to my role, was doing some marketing research andsome personality research on what...

...dopols like and then very briefly, wetransition to an external agency to help us take that forward and sort ofmodernize it and refresh it. So they helped us with getting that conceptdown and then because our budget is small, then we sort of took it in Ous,N and rolled it out, ourself. So but yeah it was primarily the internal teamand we have you know a design team. We have a small Webtin that moved overfrom the ITR is area of campus and we have a project manager and I think weall work about eighty hours a week we hav go to those writers. The magazinealso, we had a new editor and she was able to incorporate the gold within andespecially as the new president came in very important there, that you'reultimate graand champion in an university Asian becase university.President and so Dr Lorri white came in on July first and under the theme ofGold With Hem, you know we embraced her and welcomed her and she has continuedto carry that forward and to tie that meaning directly to our core values. Sowhat we like a lot about gold within other than the looking at Our Name topall, which is Peldpau lw, that AU is the symble for gold and seeing that andhaving that pointed out to us, we have been using gold and had terrific testresponses and advertising torrific results and Very Ron, and we justcouldn't take it to that next and the minute we saw that it was one of thosedone. You know that's right there in ournight EA. I thoughtthat was extremely clever, just to be able to pull out that AU with a boxurroundit I just that was brilliant. It was a lot of fun so and actually thatSOM that just opened up all sorts of opportunity playing off gold and boldand just the idea of that gold standard of the academics, which we believe thelieral Lord experience for lives. It just all ijust everything sort ofconnected at that point and then so again we had the a new president ocoming in during a pandemic, which is a whole podcast right, thererightbecoming a new president, afpendenic and historical at that. The first latpresent was being no present for the paw making history and she has accuseddirectly connected gold within to who we are and what we stand for, and ourcore values which not sure, if that directly answers your questions alittle bit of rambling but ther're, just so many components there. No,that's that's excellent sorible to reinforce that and even included whenmoving forward with a new strategic planning effort and very much thosecore values on that idea of gold within is a broad thing within that strategyplanning as well DD Kudos to you and your small andmighty team. If you can help us understand how many differentdepartments or stakeholders did, you have to go to or to work with, and how did thatsmall and mighty team engage them wow! That's a great question: We had a lotof departments again in rolmant management, very key to that process.The mission counselors harrying it out a team's bringing forth. We had theintron team, my team concept an an idea at the very end of all of two thousandand nineteen, my goodness Volvler, but it followed two thousand and nineteenof sending off the students into their final exams with a big event and wecalled it Dachuchu and to probably love to play with the de of Our Name and addit towords. It's just a little thing we do and, and we called it a Chup Tu andwe actually rented a train that went up. You know up and down burher walk in themain central area of campus and gave students lifts and we handed out, swagand and gold within cookies that were Yo, know Gong within and and Tshirts,and the all the you know, and just and hot chocolate, and just really thattight stuff tigers with the godofantshits, the key chains. You knowthe whole thing and just made it a big fun event and, and in the middle ofwinter it was freezing, but it was. It...

...was wonderful Instan and, of course,staff and TA will be very much part of that, and that's what's been key. Ithink, as we had so many staff and faculty embrace it and and really seemto be saying. This is what we've been waiting for. Something at that showcaseis the kind of quality education that depat provides that really we feel likecaptures it. There are many universities out there that arecertainly small private universities, small classes, right that are Showca ordefinitely who we are those relationships with facily members. Buthow do you define all that? And at Tepom we were able to dofind it withinthe scope of the color, a that represents a really o know, Gold Spirit.It just became it when you hit something that just hits the light noteand everybody felt like they could own it. Our HR department, human resources,has a gold learning academy. They have the gold. You know the rapping honorsfor the year within that gold theme just carrying that through. So so Iwould say so many people across campus and braced it not the least of whichthe facultine staff in many departments and woman advancement, career serviceat.You know the Hubbard Center that we had the Prendale Institute for Ethnics Week.So many of our centers and institutes, everyone just said we can make this andadapt it in a way that fits our individual area. TBAT also unites woththe canvas, and so I would say it's kind of a long wined answer tbut. Iwould say we as part of the development of the brand. We developed a messaginghierarchy. That said, you know it's not just the brand promise it's one ofthose pillars, and so we had fourto five main pillars, which is the goldstandard education. You know all about thoutstaining faculty and helding intoour students and those small classes. Incrediat th you Kno, are crediblysuccessful alumni. We are, we have just for a small university, just a unheardof level of I I've, never really thats. One of the reasons I came to the PALwas that so that was a pillar thet launch path of leaders. We were knownfor leadership programs for students and then the gold commitment which,which basically says we stand behind our you know. Ninety eight percent ofour students are successful within sients of graduation and we standbehind the outcome of every degree and then the powerful support network, sowe had those rand pillars and then, with in each of those colors. Everydepartnent on campus can then have the proof points that prove out each ofthose pillars and what they stand for. So you can adapt the message acrossdepartments, but also like th university yeah. That's that's great,and I particularly like the fact that- and I you know I run across this somany times, because you've really got a differentiate yourself from everyoneelse. I mean you can't use the typical we've got small class sizes. Where youknow mentors for your teachers. Everybody can say that that's in acertain range of small private to small Omediam private colleges, but I reallylike the fact that you've taken this, this brandind campaign, the messagingthat goes with it and actually tofined it out so that everyone on campus canactually have the ability to articulate that very well, whether it's aprofessor or fact Ol, the others. I think that's that's. That was great, sotell me ittle bit. What are the plans moving forward? I mean this is in placecoming out of the pandemic. You know, how are you going to continue to kindof put the fuel back in the tank and get it back that we might just happen?We might just get out o. We really do so so we, the previousclass, because we rolled out midway through the year of course, the classicking in the fall of two thousand and twenty had not seen gold within yetbecause we, it was ethey already here. So we actually this next class of twothousand and twenty one will be the first incoming class that will be ableto carry that thing forward through four or four years right, and so that'swhat Yhou want. Is that longevity behind a campaign sowe're lookingforward to that and we're looking forward to so much of the brant Nonisof gold within? Is Those interactions of campus. So Ie, I'm just lookingreally forward to the interactions that...

...naturally will pave the way towardsmore ideas around the concept, but but certainly with video, once we can getback on in class and on the campus evolving more as with the incomingclass and what they think and their first impressions of Gol Within we havethose in mine. We have more faculty that we want to showcase and otheralumni lined up who arein students, especially recent graduates, who areeiter to participate in the campaign and and have asked to be part of thatand the storytelling lhat's. not the TI. Tilin is a huge part of that tellingthat a aul story on our home page and that's where we tri to weave in thatthe experience and the stories of how people are using their pall, experienceto live out their lives and wrap that within the content of Goli, ithin so Ma,just tremendous likea Collin, the social media guy, because he's just gotsibring such great sense of humor and and just real strategy there that wherehe brings out a sort of natural bumbling up of ideas just from the pepefrom from our consitituents and our state holders that naturally arise.Just because of the way he approaches social media, and so none. Nothing isscripted and that's what we really like about this brand. But but we do we'revery excited because we did in two thousand and nineteen right as thepandenicant. We got notified that we want snash and gold in the case, corclexcelence or confessional, just institutional branding egwe had togrind at home to the Midwest, because Syracuse we' be out Syracuse for thataa.They actually have trriic campan to so we were very excited and so that a thatthat gave us some affirmation that we needed that we were on the right trackand really, I feel like it's just the beginning, we're just really wanting toget that on. DDYOU gave acalades to your socialmedia person and said that they do a great job of bringing out stories, andI would like to say, I think, the same of you and as I've gotten to know youbefore and during our talk today. I definitely think you have a knack forfortraying ha story, as we kind of bring this to a close. We try to giveat least one takeaway to our listeners that they may be able to apply rightaway. So, as you think about this brand refresh, what one or two things do youthink that you've learned from that experience that you could give to them?You know, I really think I touched on it already and maybe it could be alittle mone wear, but I think, and certainly I've experienced this atprevious institutions and even in the porporate sector private sector- isthat used to be that brands are the idea ofbranding was something that entitis controlled organizations control, andthis is an Arab of social media. At this, you know shows no end in sightand I've really found that when you let go a little bit of that control and letthings sort of follow up like water in a spring. You know you let that magichappen. I really think that's when yeah the will always be negative things ahave in positive things that happen there there will be, but if you letpeople to find things in their own way and then let that guide you in yourcreative efforts, that's one thing: I've learned that has worked better. Ithink it depall than anywhere I've ever been. Is that people didn't obsess overonce that? What's that out exact outcome, we've been willing to Lego alittle bit and and let others pick some ownership of the brain promise andthat's how Youre small, but mighty team becomes mighti exactly if it's a great group, I'mreally excited t at they should say. You know that with h new president, who is just well talkabout Petique petitue in Mit, should you know probably Abou Ouleven, I meanso much energy she is out and about on that campus, even in this pandenic, andI think she's already exemplifying that goal witin spirit, so I think you knowSgyzalin DD. I want to express much...

...gratitude on behalf of Bartan. I I'veenjoyed this conversation and I'm sure I can say the same for Bart and Ibelieve that we've achieved our goal of putting out insights and ideas thatpeople other marketers can glean from. So thank you for your time. Well, thankyou and I know on byhalf of some other higher Ed, a marketers out there. Thisis wonderful thing, you're doing we're happy to Jis Tink, thank you and toeveryone out there. The Higher Ed Market of podcast is sponsored byCabler solutions and education, marketing and branding agency and bythink patented, a marketing execution, printing and mailing provider of higherred solutions. On behalf of my cohost Bard Caylor entroy singer, thank youfor joining us. You've been listening to the Higher EdMarketer to ensure that you never miss an episode subscribe to the show inyour favorite podcast player. If you were listening, withapple podcast, we'dlove for you to leave a quick rating of the show, simply tap the number ofstars. You think the PODCAST deserves until next time.

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