With the arrival of President Laura B. Leatherwood in 2017 and the celebration of the college’s 50th anniversary in 2019, the timing was right to launch a new brand for Blue Ridge Community College. Beginning in the summer of 2018, the college partnered with Formation PR + Brand to develop its new brand.
For four months, Formation conducted brand research, which included primary and secondary research, as well as digital marketing analysis. Primary research consisted of brand perception surveys to Blue Ridge faculty, staff, and students; parents; community members; and high school guidance counselors. The digital marketing analysis consisted of a web and digital footprint audit, as well as the identification of brand personas with whom the new brand would need to engage.
Utilizing all avenues for engagement, the Formation team secured over 500 responses to brand perception surveys. This valued feedback from the community, along with the secondary research components, allowed our design team to get started on options for consideration. To ensure long-term success from within, Formation worked with the college to create a brand council made up of faculty, staff, and student representatives from across the three campuses.
After presenting initial concepts to the brand council and then refining based on feedback, the Formation team developed three design options and accompanying color palettes to present for a real-time vote on campus. Working with staff to select a day, location, and event that would allow for a large number of students to be present, Formation dispatched two representatives to gather votes. The Formation team was able to secure more than 180 votes for a final logo option which was then presented to the college president for consideration. With minor feedback and color palette edits, a final option was presented and selected.
Once President Leatherwood selected the final brand concept, design, and tagline, it was critical to define the best path and timing for roll out. An already planned all-day professional development workshop for faculty and staff was the ideal time to unveil the college’s new brand. In preparation for the brand unveiling event, Formation developed a brand implementation plan with marketing and communications activations leading to and following the internal event.
In February 2019, Formation unveiled the brand during a presentation to more than 200 Blue Ridge faculty, staff, and trustees as well as local media. Following the unveiling, brand marketing activations included a strategic communications plan, brand ambassador goody bags (encouraging social media engagement with #BlueRidgeElevates), social media, advertising, media relations, swag, e-newsletters, brochures, videos, pop-up banners, business cards, name badges, notecards, letterhead and envelopes, PowerPoint templates, and strategic website updates, among others.
Increased enrollment for summer and fall registrations (2019)