Telling Grinnell’s Story

Debra Lukehart, vice president for communications

In 2015 President Raynard S. Kington presented to the community a road map for the College’s future. Called Vision 2030, it seeks to capitalize on the College’s strengths and build the programs that will make Grinnell distinct from its peers (see Kington’s “Strategy Session” on Page 4 of the Winter 2015 issue of the magazine). To support the progress of Vision 2030, the College has been making important strides to strengthen the ways in which we tell the Grinnell story. 

Starting with market research in 2012 with the Art and Science Group and then creative development in 2013–14 with Crane MetaMarketing, we laid the groundwork for a major marketing push. During the spring 2016 board meeting, trustees endorsed a comprehensive brand initiative designed to broaden awareness of the College among prospective students, alumni, and donors. This effort will also demonstrate Grinnell’s value as a top-choice liberal arts college and a cause worth giving to.

After extensive evaluation of more than a dozen national firms, the College selected Ologie, based in Columbus, Ohio, as its strategic marketing partner. The firm has developed comprehensive marketing strategies for other colleges and universities and we were particularly drawn to Ologie’s success with liberal arts colleges. 

In its “discovery” phase, Ologie team members are becoming familiar with Grinnell. They have been going through an expansive amount of background material, from The Grinnell Magazine, recruitment publications, and media coverage to web pages, research, and social media activity. Members of the firm’s team have been on campus twice to meet with students, faculty, and staff since starting the project in December. They have also conducted interviews with trustees and alumni. 

In addition to getting to know Grinnell, an essential Ologie goal is to better understand how our target audiences perceive the College. In February, alumni, prospective students, current students, faculty, staff, and a sample of the general population were invited to complete a survey designed to gain deeper insight into the impressions these audiences have of Grinnell. 

Once we understand our audiences’ perceptions of Grinnell, we can better tell our story. In the coming months, the College and Ologie will use that knowledge to develop a brand strategy for the College, then develop a marketing plan to support its rollout, working closely with the leadership of the Offices of Admission and Development and Alumni Relations. 

Comprehensive initiatives such as this take time, effort, and commitment on the part of many Grinnell stakeholders. We greatly appreciate your contributions and welcome your input. If you have any questions or comments about our ongoing brand project, you can reach out to us at communications[at]grinnell[dot]edu.

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