National Louis University is one of Chicago’s oldest educational institutions. From their roots as a teaching institution, NLU has since diversified and broadened their program offerings to include a number of areas of study and audiences. This expansion also included the acquisition of one of the nation’s leading culinary institutes, Kendall College, in 2018. These changes, taking place in one of the nation’s most saturated education markets, come with a significant set of challenges. To address those challenges, NLU approached Motion to help develop a robust go-to-market strategy, specifically focusing on brand perception and marketplace awareness.
Motion engaged in audience-centric research to drive an updated brand positioning and messaging hierarchy. We also developed a focused media program and a lead-oriented direct response effort.
First, to understand how NLU was perceived in the market, Motion measured perceptions of both internal (students, faculty) and external audiences (leads and those considering college) through a mix of interviews and surveys.
What we learned was there was a stark contrast. While external audiences saw NLU as a low-cost alternative to a traditional 4-year institution, internal audiences felt strong connections to their individual communities and their need to give back. The synthesis of all gathered information and feedback led the Motion team to develop an ownable positioning direction for National Louis: Degrees of Difference.
NLU tasked Motion with both increasing awareness and changing perceptions with key segments, while driving increased leads at more efficient volumes. To manage this task, Motion focused on 5 critical areas.
A uniquely ownable campaign look was created showcasing students from each college symbolically emerging into their future. Color palette and minimal propping were included to signify the school and career.
With a clear understanding of the brand positioning, messaging hierarchy, and student target segments, Motion developed an annual media plan that encompassed both out of home and broadcast tactics to drive awareness and perception changes in market, while deploying target specific digital tactics based on media preference and spend efficiencies.
Short, animated videos were created for online targeting with very specific messaging based on student target needs and interests.
From March – June, Motion beat University lead goals by over 25%, even while the recruitment and outreach team efforts were halted due to the pandemic.