Conveying what it’s like to be a part of the unique community at Miami University to prospective students and applicants is not a simple task.
However, members of marketing professor Michael McCarthy’s capstone class tried to do that this semester. The Highwire Brand Studio class presented its concepts and strategies for the new Miami “brand” Tuesday evening at the Taylor Auditorium in the Farmer School of Business.
Dionn Tron, associate vice president for university communications, said Miami will be hiring an outside agency to begin working on the branding process in February.
“Their input was important because rather than going back to ground zero with the agency, we go in with the ideas from these students and tell them what we like about them,” Tron said. “Going to the outside agency with their ideas makes the process shorter and saves time and money.”
The class was divided into three separate teams 16 weeks ago that been developing ideas ever since. Each team presented its marketing strategy in front of a panel of nine evaluators.
The teams stated who they believed the university’s target audience and competition are, followed by both a new logo and tagline for the university. They then presented plans of action consisting of several approaches for reaching out to applicants.
“I think this is an excellent opportunity for students to show the administration what they think they should be doing to better market Miami to the state and the country as a whole,” said junior Heath Ingram, student trustee on the board of trustees.
The first team kicked off the evening by elaborating on the importance of partnerships at Miami, such as the partnerships between students and faculty.
“It’s nice working with a real client and knowing that our ideas could be implemented into the way Miami is marketed,” said Tiffany Moeller, creative director of the first team.
To increase retention rates during the “summer melt,” the team presented a program in which current students would act as mentors and send personal letters to students who had been admitted to Miami. A standout among their ideas to raise awareness about Miami and its traditions was the suggestion of a “kiss cam” at hockey games and other sporting events that would feature couples put on the spot under the Upham arch onthe screen.
“They are going to pick a winner, but I think they’ll probably consider using elements from each of our presentations,” said David Cox, marketing director of the first team.
In the quest to illustrate the “unique essence” of Miami and figure out what makes it different than its competitors, the second team’s tagline was “Miami University: Your place to achieve.”
The group created a commercial featuring a montage of inspiring images of Miami students accompanied by upbeat music. The team also created an advertisement that served as an optical illusion which depicted a
pleasant day in a quad at Miami and placed it on the back of a truck. Since the advertisement is an optical illusion, it evokes the sensation of being able to drive right onto Miami’s campus in drivers directly behind the truck.
“We tried to hit on various points and various tactics and also get some humor in there,” said Jeff Raulie, creative director for the second team.
Proposing that Miami work on becoming a top search result on Google, the team voiced the importance of making sure Miami’s name appears first when someone performs a search for something such as “Universities in Ohio.” This would make finding and learning about Miami easier for students.
The third team talked about the necessity for Miami to differentiate itself from competitors such as Ohio State University, Ohio University, Indiana University, the University of Dayton and the University of Illinois.
“We are focusing on aspects of the campus and the experience of this place,” said Melissa Ferris, member of the third team. “We are focusing on what it is here that we love.”
The third team decided its slogan should sum up the Miami experience in the same way that Winston Churchill did many years ago which is by stating “Miami: such a place, such a life.”
This group was focused on marketing Miami “as a personalized living and learning experience with lasting results.” Coming up with a new approach to campus tours, the group suggested tour guides hand out an “MU to do” list, which includes a map complete with explanations and a photos for each suggestion. This list tells a story of popular on- and off-campus activities, places and traditions to prospective students. This would give a more in-depth feel for what it’s like to attend school here.
The list presented included suggestions like “kiss under arch,” “don’t step on the seal,” “eat at Bagel and Deli” and “find your favorite house name.”
Tron said the panel was pleased with the presentations.
“We love the creativity of ideas that they bring to the process,” Tron said. “They gave a fresh perspective on how to look at it.”
President David Hodge concluded the event by congratulating the students on their presentations and saying they had given Miami a great deal to contemplate.