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Gardner-Webb University

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Brand and Messaging, Integrated Marketing, Website Redesign

When We First Met

Like many liberal arts institutions post-recession, Gardner-Webb was grappling with a period of steady enrollment decline due to two critical factors: 1) increased competition for a shrinking number of qualified high school graduates; and 2) a growing misperception about the diminishing value of a liberal arts degree in a job-focused economy. As a result, the University was struggling to convince its most qualified applicants to actually enroll, converting only 17% of traditional undergraduate admitted students.

What We Did

Gardner-Webb engaged VisionPoint to rebrand the University and reinvigorate its enrollment marketing strategy. The crux of that strategy was a hypothesis that most tuition-driven institutions consider too risky to try: that targeting fewer students could actually lead to higher enrollment. The key would be to distill the essence of what sets Gardner-Webb apart into a clear brand identity, and then communicate that brand promise in compelling ways to those students who are the best fit. Gardner-Webb would stop trying to be all things to all people. Instead, the University would simply and confidently, be itself.

What We Achieved Together

By carving out a market position Gardner-Webb can truly “own,” the new brand has re-invigorated the University’s internal marketing efforts and served as a catalyst for cultural change at almost every level of the University.

Prospective students now understand who Gardner-Webb truly is and what the University stands for, making it easier for students to discern the University’s brand promise and decide if it aligns with what they want.