The Outreach team work with disadvantaged students and their influencers to help inform and educate them about the process of going on to higher education.
A coherent visual identity was required, one that worked alongside the main university brand but could also be adapted for a younger audience. The ultimate aim being to encourage a greater level of audience engagement with the actual concept of university.
Recognising barriers, raising expectations.
Only 30% of college students aspire to go on to university with many others finding the concept intimidating, overwhelming, and ‘not for them’. Which means many students don’t realise their own potential and are left wondering, ‘What is it like being at university?’, ‘Am I good enough?’, ‘Could I actually go?’ Answering these questions forms the basis of our creative work.
In our hyper-connected lives, how best to get our messages across? For a generation that has never known a world without the internet, smart phones or social media, every new channel of communication needs to be explored. Our young audience are increasingly savvy about ‘advertising’ and demand more truth from organisations and brands. They have a hunger for real-life experiences and ‘telling it as it is’.
An additional barrier to higher education is the financial constraint. In many cases, these students may be the first person in their families to even consider university, a decision they may, or may not, be supported in by their influencers. Often, it is the perceived cost of going on to university, against the financial appeal of going straight into a career that are the real barriers for Outreach.
Have you ever wondered?
Our approach focussed on students asking a series of questions designed to resolve certain misconceptions and settle any anxieties they may have about the idea of university. We also wanted to make the thought of going to university exciting and, more important, an achievable, realistic next step. ‘What time do you go to bed?’, ‘Where would I study?’, ‘Can I bring my cat?’ all may sound simplistic, but actually open the door to better explaining what going to university involves.
Asking the audience.
Naturally we immersed ourselves in our audience types, getting to know each inside out. We also tested our campaign and creative in collaborative focus groups before arriving at our finished creative. Great feedback allowed us to explore a set of gradients, keeping the UEA colour palette on brand, but still relevant. We also learned that our audience preferred ‘real’ imagery as opposed to illustrations, which reinforced our initial research.
To create a cohesive and clear visual identity, we worked closely with UEA on a set of visual identity guidelines and launch materials, including banners, posters, presentation templates, social media graphics and student pocket guides. A phased 12-month approach allowed us to explore many of the proposed communication channels raised in our research.
Sometimes teacher does know best.
An important part of the launch involved communicating Outreach’s offering to teachers. In our initial research, we found that teachers were the key audience in the influencer group. Other than parents, they have the most exposure to both student groups and can heavily impact their future choices. We discovered they were extremely time poor and needed the Outreach offering to be simplified with key messages communicated clearly. Our Teacher box for launch was the start of our marketing communications, containing engaging items and a defined offering from Outreach; copy was kept short and sweet.
Outreach now and beyond.
In conclusion, our research document together with our work on the visual identity have created a solid foundation for all ongoing Outreach communications. We have worked on several events for Outreach which have each required a mini identity of their own, but still needed to remain unmistakably Outreach and UEA. All event identities have been fun, engaging and inspirational.
The flagship event ‘Wonderfest’ has a special place in our hearts, as it was originally conceived on the Sponge studio whiteboard and we couldn’t be prouder or more excited to see it brought to life as a real Outreach event. Above all, we couldn’t be more pleased to be involved in a project which makes such a genuine difference to a young person’s life, helping them fulfil their true potential.