Higher Education Focus Group Opportunity

Higher ed focus group flyer

We’re recruiting for a focus group on a higher education topic. You are eligible if you are:

  • From the Capital District
  • Between the ages of 25 and 45
  • Interested in continuing your education
  • Do not currently have a degree higher than an Associates

If this sounds like you, let us know!

Spring Ahead in Higher Ed

A couple of weeks ago, we all turned our clocks ahead with an eager anticipation for spring to be upon us given the harsh winter we’ve had. Yet, by the look and feel of the weather outside these days, it appears that a warm spring is very much on a slow pace to reach us.  However, in the higher education world, spring is in full swing and that means it’s another busy time for Zone 5 with our work for our client colleges and universities.

Over the coming weeks, we will be traveling around the country (and abroad) meeting and collaborating with some great clients as we continue to help them to define and communicate their brands to prospective students, parents, alumni and other key audiences.  It’s fun and exciting work since each campus is unique—and working to uncover each school’s brand uniqueness does make for a great and fast-paced spring!

Here are just a few of the campus visits and assignments that we have ahead of us…


First, we’ll be heading to North Carolina A&T State University to conduct campus brand training sessions as part of an internal rollout of the new branding campaign we developed entitled “Aggies Do!” Following the internal rollout, we will be working with A&T on the planning and development of an extensive suite of external branding communications to be launched this fall.

Next, we will be returning to Marshall University in West Virginia. Over the past several months, we’ve been immersed in a brand assessment of Marshall including qualitative and quantitative market research. We will be presenting the results of our assessment and research that will serve as the foundation for the development of a new brand positioning and messaging platform for Marshall. (Oh, and if you haven’t seen the Matthew McConaughey movie “We Are Marshall,” I highly recommend it…even if I’m a little biased!)

We will then travel across the boarder for our annual spring kick-off visit to Algoma University in Ontario, Canada. Our partnership with our friends in the Great White North dates back to 2010.  Each year since then, we’ve had the pleasure of developing Algoma’s integrated recruitment communications. Over the last few months, we’ve also been busy on a new brand identity platform for the University. The new identity will be unveiled formally to the campus community on this April visit as well.

Now, let’s work on the spring-like weather…

Algoma University – Admission Strategy

The Challenge
Algoma University was looking to update their admissions materials for 2011-2012 recruitment year . A small university located in Sault Ste . Marie Canada, Algoma was challenged to draw a bigger applicant pool from outside their immediate region .

The Solution
Our discovery process led to a clear strategy – own your truth . With students, faculty and administration all citing the University’s size as its greatest strength, it made sense to lay claim to Algoma’s position as the smallest university in Ontario .

The centerpiece of the “Small university. Big education.” campaign was its viewbook . To help illustrate the contrast in size and education, the design employs two books with a small booklet bound to the outside of a larger book . The small book communicates the benefits of a small school such as: small class size, personal engagement with fellow students and faculty, etc . The larger book focuses on the “big” education you will receive at Algoma without getting lost at a larger university .

In addition to the main viewbook, a number of additional components were created, including: a small book for international markets, a college fair piece that employs a drive-to-web strategy, and a micro-site that encourages prospects to make the trip to campus .

The Results
While it is too early to provide quantitative results (other than bus tour attendance doubling!), the feedback couldn’t be clearer . Kevin Hemsworth told us, “This is better than anything the University has ever produced.” And we couldn’t be happier .

The Sage Colleges – Recruitment Research

With enrollment declining, The Sage Colleges needed to rebuild its marketing approach . The college set a goal to restructure marketing efforts and to have its website be the number one marketing and recruitment tool for the college .

Sage turned to Zone 5, its marketing partner since 1999 . Zone 5 conducted a variety of surveys and focus groups to gain feedback from current students, graduates, and transfers about the college, its website, and marketing . In total, there were more than 200 internal and external participants in this study .

Additionally, Zone 5 administered a quantitative phone survey among 400 regional high school seniors and their parents to gauge attitudes and perceptions of the Sage brand . A baseline was developed for use in future updates to confirm that we are moving the needle .

Sage and Zone 5 used this data to develop new, more effective marketing and communication strategies . The college decided to refocus its efforts, expanding its use of traditional media and putting more emphasis on Web 2 .0 efforts . Our marketing communications strategy was to develop a fully-integrated campaign with surgical timing in a narrow window of prospects’ decision- making (and admission staff efforts) designed to influence admissions yield for several key programs .

Enrollment has increased significantly . Since restructuring marketing and overhauling its website, Sage has experienced double-digit enrollment increases:

  • Admission to Russell Sage College for the incoming 2010-11 freshman class: + 46%
  • Summer 2008 programs: +21%
  • Incoming Transfer students for the fall of 2008: +31%

HANYS – Research and Brand Refresh

The Challenge

HANYSThe Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) is a dynamic organization that provides a deep and wide range of services to its member hospitals, ranging from advocacy to business consulting to counsel for members’ boards of trustees. These services are delivered by a complex mix of departments and subsidiary companies. In recent years, the impact of HANYS among peer groups and member clients has reached beyond the borders of New York State.

Additionally, the corporate identity for HANYS did not represent
the spirit and energy of the organization as it wished to be perceived. The organization needed a new brand and logo architecture that could clarify the relationship between the organization and its various business groups. This identity needed to capture the essence of the organization’s spirit in a fresh, but not flashy or trendy, manner.

The Solution

Zone 5 began the process by convening focus groups with various
staff and clients to better understand the organization’s current and aspirational perceptions. We then turned outward to audit the brands of peer and competitor organizations for the purpose of differentiating HANYS where needed. Next, our team mapped out the organization for the purpose of defining the brand architecture. We then put pencil- to-paper and began the design aspects of the assignment. The resulting design built was a dynamic evolution of the HANYS identity, retaining some of the positive equity that the old identity had. (For instance, the green color palette was retained.) The new identity is intended to capture the statewide presence in an interesting and unique design, while symbolically breaking out of those boundaries.