Telling a Story: How Westminster College refined its brand.

Author:Kinder, Peri
Position:Lessons Learned
 
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Westminster College is adept at evolution. What started as the Salt Lake Collegiate Institute in 1875 with 27 students has grown into a renowned liberal arts institution serving nearly 3,000 students.

Although it's been at its present campus in a Sugar House neighborhood since 1911, the college has undergone several changes during its long history, including a reorganization, an updated strategic plan and the growth of its master's programs.

But even with its prestigious reputation, school officials discovered that overall awareness and understanding about Westminster was often vague or incorrect. This disconnection prompted some serious discussions that resulted in a rebranding process that started in 2015, publicly launched in 2017 and continues today.

The school hired STRUCK, an agency that combined strategy and creativity, to help tell a better story of Westminster College. An on-campus survey asked students and faculty, "Why Westminster?" and a study was conducted to determine the best way to bring the school's brand to a new generation.

"We really wanted people to think of it as a brand refinement rather than a rebrand or a new brand," says Sheila Yorkin, Westminster's chief marketing officer. "All the research and strategy that went into it made it so positive and successful because it got to the heart of who we really are--not just slapping on a tagline or new visuals."

What followed was a learning process that Yorkin believes should be an ongoing discussion at every organization and institution. The school engaged alumni, faculty, current students, prospective students, parents and staff to get feedback on branding and messaging ideas to more effectively express the school's mission and objectives.

Westminster's rebranding experience started with a brand audit, stakeholder interviews, and evaluations of past research and data.

It moved to messaging, brand personality and narrative before creating a new visual identity with updated colors, images and logos.

Telling a story

Storytelling played a big part of the brand refinement process. The brand management team found the storytelling approach, with less charts and statistics, was more personal and approachable. Stories were a component of the process that Westminster's Director of Brand Marketing and Strategy Johanna Snow says resonated with the school and community.

"Your brand is what others are saying about you, not what you're advertising," she says. "We want the public at large...

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