University of Canterbury gets future-oriented with guidance from Designworks

The University of Canterbury, which has struggled to attract prospective students since the earthquakes, is pivoting and repositioning itself with a helping hand from local agency Designworks.

According to the Otago Daily Times, the University of Canterbury “recorded a five percent drop in its enrolment figures from new students alongside a 10 percent drop in applications from international students for the 2012 academic year”. Total applications to enrol, however, were up 15 percent on the same time last year.

Designworks, which recently re-established its office in the city after it was levelled in the quake, developed a new strategy and visual expression for the university to help differentiate it from other education providers, with a recruitment campaign spanning TV (which was shot by Flying Fish), outdoor and digital that focuses on what makes the university world class.

University of Canterbury rebrand

The university is also planning a series of recruitment events and the website has also been re-designed. And while the university has retained its existing logo and crest, the campaign has boosted the use of Canterbury colours.

UC now encourages students to ‘Be prepared to change the world’ and intentionally highlights challenging research through provocations such as ‘What if you could buy a new heart over the counter?’, ‘What if we learnt te reo to delay Alzheimers?’ and ‘What if we treated robots as our equals?’ in a step that Carl Pavletich, branch manager of Designworks Christchurch, says moves UC away from the generic ‘lifestyle’ appeal common to much of the education sector.

“The perceptions of Christchurch have changed and the business dynamic has changed. The earthquakes have offered Christchurch an opportunity to move to a more mature stance and away from chocolate boxes and postcards of a meandering river. The research we carried out with the University of Canterbury demonstrated it, like many organisations in the region, needed a strong value proposition to stand out in what’s an incredibly competitive marketplace.

“The campaign has refocused the brand around the university’s core value – as a world class place of learning,” he says. “The new visual expression also ramps up the local pride. We wanted to focus on the university’s world class teaching and research and tailor the campaign to different target audiences, whether that’s international or domestic students.”

David Williams, University of Canterbury’s marketing manager, says the university recognised the importance of developing a strong brand position to reach its goals “and this campaign provides us with an opportunity to clearly position ourselves as a relevant university delivering outstanding research and teaching in a competitive world”.

Designworks also works with Air New Zealand (specifically on the fast check-in counters and the Skycouch), Tait Communications (which it recently rebranded), AMI Insurance, Monteith’s, Telecom and Silver Fern Farms.

And it's urging Canterbury businesses to follow the university’s lead and take a fresh look at their positioning if they want to grow in the future.

This story originally appeared on StopPress.

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