Microsite Phase II: Coming Soon

The Integrated Marketing Team is excited to announce a significant upgrade coming to the Hope website! This is a step towards the longer term vision of working more broadly and consistently to communicate our brand promise and brand attributes. The website revision will bring to life the Hope brand and is a great step forward.

More detailed communications regarding the launch are forthcoming.

Integrated Marketing Team

Becky Robrahn
Carol Fritz
Lynne Powe
Andrew Meyers
Jason Cash
Scott Travis
Carl Heideman
Tom Renner
Dave Vanderwel
Bill Vanderbilt

Microsite Phase I: Now Live

Just a week ago today, we reached an exciting milestone in launching the new Hope brand, as the first phase of our microsite went live:

You can view the site at hope.edu/admissions. Every page within the Admissions area of the Hope website has been redesigned, and the site will serve as a fine resource for our prospective students and their families.

We’re so pleased with the work done by both of our partners, EM2 and Mediacurrent, and with the team effort we experienced here at Hope. No rest for the weary, though! It’s on to Phase II of this microsite project, which will include:

  • Applying this new theming to hope.edu and each of the front pages for the items in the global navigation (orange bar below Hope logo)
  • Installation of news and events modules which will be integrated on the home page and on index pages for each type

No launch date has been set for Phase II, but we expect it will be completed within 3-6 weeks.

So, what do you think of this first iteration of the Hope brand on the web? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

— Submitted by Andrew Meyers, Assistant Director of Admissions

Hope’s New Brand Promise and Attributes

We’ve reached a major milestone in the re-branding process: finalization of the Hope College brand promise and a refined set of brand attributes. These outcomes are the result of a long-term discovery and research phase, as well as substantial discussion and discernment.

The brand promise is a statement that embodies Hope’s main reason for being:

Hope College inspires students to be fully alive in mind, body and spirit through an exceptional liberal arts education and a community grounded in a vibrant Christian faith.

The brand attributes are the aspects of Hope that are most distinctive, important and believable:

  • Rare combination: rigorous academics and relevant, vibrant and inviting Christian faith
  • Friendly and welcoming community
  • Close student-faculty and student-staff relationships: masterful teachers and talented researchers in small classes and one-on-one collaboration
  • Christian character: engages the whole person with the larger world throughout academics, co-curricular and other programs
  • Nationally recognized leader: in undergraduate research, scholarship, preparation, and life-changing experiences
  • Holistic Approach: Liberal arts and pre-professional programs with very high academic standards and exceptional opportunities: holistic approach has been lauded for character, preparedness, service, and life-changing experiences for students.
  • Championship Athletics: tradition with scholar-athletes and community that supports College teams
  • Location: Safe and historic campus located just blocks from charming town of Holland, Michigan, with outstanding college facilities, an increasingly culturally diverse community.

This promise and supporting attributes will guide the development of print and electronic marketing materials to all of Hope’s audiences. They will also serve as a common reference point for each office on campus.

— Submitted by Andrew Meyers, Assistant Director of Admissions

Data Driven

As part of the brand development process, Hope has completed a set of perception research studies with the help of EM2, our integrated marketing partner.  The results of these studies were shared at a meeting in Haworth open to the college community.  If you missed the meeting or are looking for more information, below is a brief summary:

  • In February an online survey was sent to three groups: current students, prospective students and faculty/staff.  Over 2,100 responses were collected and each group has a margin of error of 3-4%.
  • Current students and faculty and staff are very satisfied.  On a five-point scale, 90% of current students and 82% of faculty and staff rate their experience with the college as a 4 or a 5.
  • Some of the aspects of the college that current students like most are small classes, friendly and welcoming environment, close faculty-student relationships, the Christian environment, academic quality, downtown Holland, the beauty of campus, preparation for success in career and the ability to get involved.  This list is very similar to what aspects appeal to prospective students.  
  • What students like least are cost and financial aid, lack of diversity, parking, housing options and weather.  Current students would also like to see more name recognition for the college.
  • 77% of current students said the Christian atmosphere influenced their decision to attend Hope.
  • 71% of prospective students are applying to at least 4 schools. The top sources in their college search are campus visits, college websites, printed materials and parents.
  • The most important challenges identified by faculty and staff include sustaining enrollment, affordability, economic challenges, creating a more diverse campus and building the endowment.
  • Faculty and staff identified faculty relationships, the quality of the academic program, and the supportive Christian environment as the biggest advantages or benefits to students.
  • Most faculty and staff felt comfortable talking about Hope and the value it offers.  21% said they would like some help.

Overall, the research affirmed much of what we already knew (from a variety of different studies completed over the past few years) and gave us an even stronger foundation to build the brand promise and brand attributes on (more to come on these).  We will use this information, including our strengths and challenges, to better articulate our value to those considering Hope.


— Submitted by Scott Travis, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations

What is Integrated Marketing, anyway?

In the course of working in higher education, we all come across buzzwords that are often used but only occasionally explained: “Student Centered Learning”, “Social Media”, “Knowledge Economy”, “Globalization”, “Distinctive”, “Synergy” and of course, “Integrated Marketing”. We even have an appointed cabinet to work on that last one.

So what is Integrated Marketing, anyway? In order to move from cliché to common language, consider the following analogy: each division and department at a college is like a musician in an orchestra. Playing individually, we may occasionally reach our intended audience with positive results, but only when the orchestra is tuned and playing from a common score, will the results move an audience to tears.

Since that analogy is itself a bit cliché, here’s the textbook definition of integrated marketing as Dr. Robert Sevier puts it: “a listening-first, database-dependent approach to marketing that includes a willingness to segment and coordinate such strategic assets as product, price, and place, and to develop effective promotion strategies for key target audiences.”

For us, this means coordinating our efforts to communicate the value of a Hope College education to our students, their families and other key audiences.

Realizing a need for this type of communication, President Bultman has appointed an Integrated Marketing Cabinet to work towards the vision set forth in Chapter 2 of the Hope College Strategic Plan, approved by the Board of Trustees in 2006. The vision stated in the plan is that “all areas of Hope College succinctly communicate a consistent message that accurately reflects the vision and values of the institution in both the content and the design of the communication.”

Meeting since September of 2008, the group has begun both strategic and operational dialogue in the following areas:

  • Identifying what we currently do in the area of marketing as well as the target audiences we would like to reach
  • The role of marketing research in our decisions and identifying what research we currently have available to us
  • Overall branding and integration within the institution, including the possibility of seeking input from an outside agency
  • Better utilizing positioning outcomes, including a placement report and an economic impact study
  • Improving and integrating both the content and design of Hope’s print and online communications

This blog’s aim is to keep you up-to-date as the college moves forward with these initiatives. In the process, we will try to avoid the clichés.

— Submitted by Scott Travis, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations