As students arrive at Brock this week, some for the very first time, they will be welcomed by a campus that has recently become a showcase for some striking images, all part of the university’s new branding campaign.
These images, which portray members of the Brock community along side a visual illustration of something they are either involved in, or interested in outside of the walls of Brock.
The both sides of the brain concept came out of a great deal of research and consideration, explained Brock President Jack Lightstone. A study of about 700 faculty, staff and students found that most shared a common view of what made the Brock experience unique.
However, when speaking with prospective students, the study found that very few shared similar conceptions about what made Brock stand apart from other universities.
“We want people to value Brock for what is authentically valuable about Brock and what we all agree is authentically valuable about Brock,” said Lightstone.
These findings led to the development of the current advertising campaign that has not only become prevalent on Brock’s campus, but has also been printed in the national Globe and Mail, and used consistently at Brock events in the community.
“The idea of a branding campaign in terms of the external community is you want to get to a point where you can stand in Market Square in St Catharines, and shout ‘Brock’, and the people standing around there will have a similar set of conceptions about what Brock is and what Brock values as people here [do],” said Lightstone.
Lightstone pointed out that it was not only important for current students to adopt similar ideas about what makes Brock unique, but also to ensure that those outside of the university, and across the country adopt them as well.
“The [branding] exercise is about self discovery, discovery of what people out there associate with our name, and third, promoting that brand to key stake-holders,” he said.
Those stake-holders, according to Lightstone, include prospective students, parents of prospective students, government, the private sector and the community. As a result, the next step of the campaign will mean major changes in the way Brock recruits future students.
“The third part of the branding campaign is the re-fashioning of our recruitment materials and strategy this fall to align with the creative imagery of our new brand,” he said.
Beyond its use as a tool to promote Brock as an educational institution, Lightstone says that the campaign is also a concept or ideal that represents Brock’s dedication to students as individuals.
“The whole two sides of the brain business means that we want you to develop as a specialist because that’s part of our job [as a university],” he said. “We also want you to develop a broader perspective beyond that.”
“It’s this combination of your specialist side and the ‘something else’ that you don’t leave undeveloped that make you uniquely you,” he said. “That’s why the split images are so compelling. We’re not just one thing. We’re trying to be more than one thing.”
When asked what he felt the Brock identity meant, Lightstone agreed that much of what makes Brock stand our from other universities is it’s ability to focus on the individual, and avoid being a sort of ‘educational factory’.
“Students told us over and over again, whether they were current students or past students, that one of the things they valued about [Brock] was that they weren’t just a student number; they were a person,” he said.
Although coming to a conclusion about what is authentically Brock may have been easy, developing an advertising campaign that expressed it visually proved to be more difficult.
“The challenge was finding a creative expression that was exceedingly compelling in communicating the essence of what makes Brock Brock,” said Lightstone. “[However] the reception in my view has been extremely positive, and people have taken notice.”
Lightstone also elaborated on what the campaign means for current students, and how he hopes it will benefit the school in the future.
“The long term goal is that people out there understand what is uniquely valuable at Brock the way we understand it,” he said. “The payoff of that happening is tremendous.”
“Think of the value to yourself when you graduate,” he added. “If you say ‘I’m from Brock’, and if the person to whom you are speaking hears the word ‘Brock’, and associates it with our brand, it adds value to your degree.”
“When people value us for what is authentically Brock, then everybody benefits. Every student benefits.