Butler receiving new image

KATIE GOODRICH | Asst. News Editor

Butler University hired 160over90, a branding agency, to help achieve the 2020 Vision.

160over90 is based in Philadelphia, Penn., and has worked with several universities on similar re-branding projects, such as the University of Notre Dame, University of Dayton, and Duke University.

Matt Mindrum, vice president of marketing and communications, is leading a core team consisting of individuals from across the university. Different colleges, admission, advancement, marketing and athletics are all represented.

“We completed a competitive bidding process,” Mindrum said. “The way the university does with any major investment. There were many strong competitors, but 160over90 was a clear choice for us in the end.”

The contract has a confidentiality clause regarding monetary terms.

“It’s hard to tease out exactly how much it will cost,” Mindrum said. “But it is a six-figure sum that we are investing with 160over90 over the next nine months.”

The budget for Marketing and Communications is $350,000, which is a quarter of 1 percent of Butler’s revenues, Mindrum said.

“We are confident it will be a positive return on investment,” Mindrum said. “But we do realize it is a significant investment.”

The project is a good investment because of its impact on recruitment, advancement, development, and highlighting the good things on campus, he said.

Lindsay White, director of strategic planning for 160over90, said the agency follows a five-step process for similar projects.

The first step is discovery, so representatives conducted interviews with prospective students, current students, and alumni to understand the current perceptions of Butler.

Representatives from the branding agency interviewed groups of student athletes, seniors and freshmen this week.

Megan Carter, a freshman on the Operations Board of the Student Government Association, was one of five freshmen interviewed in a group Monday night.

“They asked us a lot about our experiences at Butler and how it has shaped our views,” Carter said.

Other questions included the diversity on campus, what other schools they considered, and why they chose Butler.

The next step is brand strategy, which entails honing in on Butler’s unique attributes.

“Every institution uses the same two dozen buzzwords,” White said. “These don’t mean anything to students, because you can swap the name of institutions and not know the difference.”

160over90 aims to use no safe words, White said.

“We aren’t here to make up a sexy story out of thin air,” White said. “We are here to tell Butler’s story and discover its distinct DNA.”

Mindrum said the focus will be on both internal and external audiences and where the two intersect.

“You find the things that makes your brand your brand no matter whom you’re talking to,” he said. “You can take those attributes and tailor them to who you’re talking to.”

After nailing down a brand strategy, the core team will focus on the brand concept, including revamping any media that might need to be changed.

“That’s when we will work with the folks from 160over90 to create a clear, consistent and compelling message,” Mindrum said.

This step of the process will entail figuring out what is or is not effective for the university.

“A lot of the things that we are doing today probably aren’t working all that well,” he said. “We just don’t know because we haven’t been tracking them carefully. Moving forward, one of the ways that we will recoup our investment is to stop doing the things that aren’t working.”

Mindrum said everything is in scope to be changed, he promised not to kill off the bulldog or change the colors. These changes might not necessarily be made.

“We don’t assume that anything needs to be changed,” White said. “We cannot determine the executions yet. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for these types of projects.”

There will probably be an undergraduate viewbook, which is a seminal piece to both admission and communication, White said.

The fourth step is rolling out the new brand that has been developed.

Updates will be made to communications, and new media will go out, if changes are made.

The effectiveness of the project’s rollout will be determined through tracking analytics. A focus will be put on tracking external audiences, such as alumni and prospective students, since they are the source  the return on investment will come from, Mindrum said.

In order to test new materials, admission may send out the new viewbook to one market and see how prospective students respond.

“What that allows us to do is keep everything else constant and really see the impact and tease out the positive life or negative lift associated with something new that we are doing,” Mindrum said.

The core team will be using an outside research firm, Simpson Scarborough, to help crunch the numbers.

“I think that was a smart move by Matt (Mindrum) and his team,” White said. “We will be doing our own quantitative research, but in these types of scenarios the more information you have, it can only help you.”

The final step in the process is continuous improvement.

160over90 will train Butler staff to work within the brand, White said.

“Success is not defined by 160over90 doing everything,” she said. “Success is defined by us being able to help shape that brand and then provide the tools and education to the Butler team to be able to actually continue to execute the brand internally.”

Mindrum said the effort will be unified across all aspects of the university.

“We are going to make sure we land in a place where [all the departments] are comfortable with the brand and its characteristics.”

The ultimate goal of the project is to tell Butler’s story to more people and to tell it more effectively, Mindrum said.

“So many of us know that this is a special place,” he said. “And so many of us feel that this is a place that deserves a national reputation for the things that we do here and do well. What we hope to accomplish through this endeavor is the prominence and the reputation that we deserve nationally.”

Carter said the representatives talked about grabbing the attention of more students, specifically out-of-state students. The project also hope to grow the diversity on campus.

“I feel like Butler is a place where I am not just another face in the crowd,” Carter said. “There are infinite opportunities here, and it is something to take advantage of.”

Carter said Butler feels like her home now and is excited to see what the project brings.

“I am not sure what their plan is,” Carter said. “But I think it is going to be really good.”