With campuses in Sault Ste. Marie as well as in Brampton, Algoma University challenged SOS to reposition and rebrand the institution with the goal of changing perceptions while attracting prospective students, specifically to increase enrolment to the university over the next two years.
Research & Strategy
Traditional & Digital Advertising
Following our standard brand development and Audience-First process, SOS undertook primary and secondary research with key Algoma stakeholders including staff, faculty, students and alumni, all to more clearly understand both the benefits of an Algoma education and the experience of attending Algoma.
From this process, we learned that students at Algoma self-identified as unique, even quirky, and that they loved Algoma’s small campus and the unexpected opportunities it offered for involvement in student life, government, sports and campus activities. We learned that the faculty was highly engaged in student success, and that the student body was the most diverse in the province.
With these findings in mind, we recognized the importance of shifting from a functional brand to an emotional one that appealed to students who were interested in a university that embraced and encouraged their unique perspective and interests. Armed with these insights, we worked closely with Algoma to develop a new positioning statement and Audience Archetypes — all of this before we undertook creative or messaging development.
The next phase of our work focused on creative development, conceptual approaches and messaging. The final, approved creative is engaging, energetic, and absolutely bold. Through focus-group testing with students and alumni, we confirmed that the approach to content and design resonates with prospective students. In addition to the emotional appeal, the content referenced key program areas and functional attributes, and featured a strong call to action.
The program uses punctuation as a key device. Periods between word pairings create a pause, allowing each word to have emphasis as well as extended meaning when combined. This forms a recognizable and high-impact system for targeted messaging.
The ongoing campaign includes recruiting materials (viewbooks, tradeshow booth, welcome kit), OOH and print advertising, digital advertising across the GTA and in the communities surrounding Sault Ste. Marie.
The results speak for themselves. In 2018–2019, Algoma experienced a 47% increase in first-choice applicants. In 2019–2020, they saw a 35% increase over previous years in first-choice applicants. For two years in a row, Algoma University has been #1 in the province for an increase in first choice applicants.
Most recently, we have redesigned and launched the new Algoma University website alongside two brand videos. Our partnership with Algoma is currently in its third year.