It’s a saturated “buyers” market in the world of higher education. Potential students are constantly bombarded with information – and it’s all screaming to them “Pick me! Pick me!” How can you tap into that spark, that excitement, and cut through all the noise?
Sub-brands are a powerful approach to do just that by creating design systems for distinct audiences as a natural extension of the main brand. Sub-brands can live on year to year and provide an overall design style and tone to a variety of different campaigns.
Here at Creative Parc, we love working with Universities creating sub-brands and related campaigns to give their messages life and build a truly immersive experience.
Sub-brands can transform your efforts and grab the attention of future students. But why, and more importantly how?
1. Know Your Audience
The first step is to define who you are talking to.
Determine your specific audience and their needs. Is the audience distinct enough from the overall brand’s that a sub-brand would help the campaigns stand out? If the answer is yes, the next step is to figure out what to say.
2. Identify The Message
Here’s where content comes into play.
A great place to start is an audit of your current collateral to identify opportunities for improvement. What are your materials saying, what can be simplified or combined, and what is most important to get across to your audience? With sub-brands, messaging can be more targeted; you can focus on elements that guide your audience to the desired action — in this case, taking the leap and applying to the school.
As we touched on, future students are blasted with tons of information from all different sources during this time. If you can curate information in one place and supercharge its appeal at a glance – you have broken through that first barrier.
3. Design a System
Now it’s time for some eye candy!
Here’s the fun part, creating a visual system that still plays nicely with the overall brand. You can get as funky and creative as you want in this stage as long as it ties back to that parent-brand.
Consistency is crucial. Consider weaving the same elements of color, typography, or design style throughout. A design system helps you keep that visual harmony through all elements of the sub-brand, whether it’s a road piece, a website, or even social media.
4. Let the Campaigns Begin
Showcase that incredible sub-brand and get some campaigns rolling.
Print pieces, direct mailers, t-shirt designs – there are so many possibilities. Focus on what your audience sees first and what will make the best first impression. Digital is king nowadays – many students use Google to search for schools making an online presence a great place to introduce your sub-brand.
Future Roadrunner was such a fun sub-brand to help create. It’s a natural extension and a fluid system that fits in seamlessly with the UTSA brand while bringing in a fun and energetic element. Future Roadrunner still has its own unique identity that is easily recognizable. You see a piece, and you immediately think, “Hey, that’s Future Roadrunner!”
Future Roadrunner grew from just a simple hashtag. UTSA took that concept and worked with us to create a sub-brand around it — encompassing admissions, orientation, and all the crucial steps a student needs to know about before they can even enroll.
The new design system allows UTSA to bring the Future Roadrunner story to life in a vivid, engaging and relevant way. After creating the brand look-and-feel, we developed a marketing collateral system that spans direct mail, brochures and a quarterly magazine titled “Rowdy.”
Schreiner took a similar approach with their recruitment road piece. While they are just starting to pursue the idea of creating a sub-branded system that is geared specifically towards prospective students, they began with a bang.
Schreiner’s goal was to consolidate all recruitment material into one road piece that captured the attention of future students. Through a creative audit, we were able to isolate the content, creating a tailored message that would be most compelling and meaningful.
Given the freedom to enhance the look with a bold new style that complements the overall brand, we designed a piece that delivered the tailored message to potential students through impactful photography and bold typography. This piece is just the start, more campaigns can be built using this same design system to advance the sub-brand.
That was a lot of information! Let’s sum it all up. Whereas a one-time campaign can be fleeting, a sub-brand has the longevity to provide continued success. The connection back to the established brand gives it roots, but it’s up to you to help it grow.
Want to dig deeper and explore sub-brands and design systems for your organization? We would love to chat! Send us a message to get started.