In 2015 our university was aware that the time had come to ask important questions about its role in society and its proposition to students, staff and partners. The university is one of a kind in the Australian higher education landscape. It is the only publicly funded Catholic university in the country, and was set up only recently, in 1991, through the amalgamation of several teaching colleges. It is unique in being the only national university, with seven campuses around Australia.
Our university’s status and heritage made it unique but were also a source of misinterpretation and skepticism around credibility and performance. Does the university welcome everybody, including non-Catholics? Does the Catholic faith interfere with scientific enquiry? How can a Catholic university be relevant in Australia’s secular society? Along with sustained growth in student enrollments, our university has established a new campus in Rome, several new research institutes, and begun offering new disciplines. This extraordinary effort needed a new brand strategy that would address the misconceptions surrounding the university and lead to a brand that would be better understood, seen as more universally relevant, and drive a more cohesive and confident culture among staff.
1. Discovery: to understand the context the university operates in and explore opportunities for its evolution. Consisted of individual and group discussions with 500+ key internal & external stakeholders over 10 months. Two types of market research were conducted and integrated: a comprehensive study with 4,000+ prospective and current students to develop & quantify a new motivational segmentation model, & qualitative research to explore priority segments’ attitudes to higher education, Catholicity and ACU.
2. Brand strategy: a series of themes and narratives were explored and tested, leading to the brand proposition: Impact through empathy. This echoes the most compelling dimensions of our Catholic ethos – while evoking a greater degree of confidence, success and leadership.
3. Creative development: includes an evolved master brand mark, new campaign creative, and new verbal identity.
The new brand proposition has changed not only the way we communicate, but the reality we live in – from curricula, to research priorities, to our choice of partnerships, and how staff interact with each other. The launch of the university’s new brand was timed to coincide with our Open Day campaign, which met and exceeded all targets.
• Year-on-year increase in overall Open Day attendance.
• Year-on-year increase in engagement via the campaign website, the University’s social media channels, and email campaign.
• Year-on-year increase in the capture of prospective student data to enhance marketing efforts, and application to enrollment conversion.
• Year-on-year increase in student applications (first preference and direct). Particularly remarkable was the increase in applications from the much-coveted postgraduate student cohort.