Holy Family University Brand Research and Development
Keating Associates has been retained by Holy Family University for research and planning services to develop an identity vision statement and branding plan for the University. From the materials provided us by the University, as well as our understanding, it is clear that Holy Family has set out on and is achieving a dramatic and exciting course of strategic development. Halfway into implementing a formal strategic plan, the University has:
• Enjoyed overall enrollment growth of more than seven percent over the past four years, including an impressive 21 percent growth in full-time undergraduate students.
• Initiated efforts to build a residential undergraduate population, which has added more than 200 new undergraduate students to the University in the past three years—representing, in fall 2007, nearly a quarter of the incoming full- time freshmen.
• Increased the freshman applicant pool by more than 50 percent, reflecting the University's drawing power from its established student markets, in part by raising interest in the residential experience.
• Substantially invested in campus and facilities, including construction and renovations for residence halls and construction of a new academic building.
• Launched significant program assessment and outcome effectiveness initiatives, to renew and keep current core and program curricula.
Like other regional universities, Holy Family is necessarily sensitive to—and appears to be adeptly managing—market dynamics, particularly to improve its base of tuition revenues. As professional educators ourselves especially interested in the vitality of
Catholic higher education, members of Keating and Prescience are gratified to learn that Holy Family is achieving market growth while continuing to be guided by the mission, values and charism of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and by its dedication to extending the Catholic intellectual tradition to contemporary society.
At this point in its development, Holy Family is prudent and wise to attend to its institutional identity through a formal program of branding research, strategy, and communications. A strong brand improves the business performance of a college or university by increasing demand for its products and services and improving perceived value which, in turn, result both in higher total revenues and greater profitability through higher margins (i.e., the ability to ask and obtain a premium price).
Brand research, strategy, planning, and execution for Holy Family must be approached differently than retail products or single-purpose service institutions. With its range of degree programs, many of which are focused on discrete areas of professional study, its alternative instructional delivery methods, its multi-campus network, and its movement into more distant geographic markets (particularly through expansion of residential students), Holy Family needs to articulate not only a strong "core" brand, but also communicate complementary "product" or extended brand elements that connect specific audiences and markets with specific offerings or sets of offerings. Our guiding metaphor is a brand "prism," which concentrates through each of its facets different "bands" or "light spectrums" of the core brand so that the brand is extended and attractive to each respective target audience.
For Holy Family's purposes, both the core and extended brands must also communicate the authenticity of the University's core values, educational and community charism, and dedication to the Catholic educational tradition, in ways that lift up and celebrate the University community yet are meaningful to, understood by, and resonate with external audiences and target markets. Brand strategy must capture and express the vitality and success that Holy Family is creating in executing its strategic plan. In branding jargon, this vibrancy may well be the "kernel" at the heart of the University's identity and brand "personality" that raises awareness and interest among external audiences, while reinforcing common purpose among internal constituencies.