By AMARIS ENCINAS
Pima Community College has decided to take the next step in revitalizing its brand as its 50th anniversary approaches. To aid in this endeavor, in January Pima hired Stamats Communications Incorporated, a higher education marketing company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Stamats Inc. is in charge developing the “creative” in Pima’s new brand. This is what the new brand would look like, feel like and have its targeted audience receive the message in a way that was still authentic to Pima. Vice President for Client Services at Stamats, Beatrice Szalas says,
“I am just so excited to be getting a chance to work with Pima you know, since I live here in Tucson, my company is nationwide so I have had a chance to work with other colleges and universities across the country, and you know I am just really delighted work with a college that’s in a city that I live in and I think it’s just been an honor to get to know the college and all the great things happening here and developing the campaign that tells the Pima story to the community,” Szalas said.
As far as strategy, Stamats conducted a research-based study that evaluated perceptions of Pima from students, faculty and staff, prospective students and the community and gathered their thoughts on what was important to have in a college. Pima will overhaul its design, but its widely recognized logo will be unchanged. Right now Pima is trying to choose between Striving and Powered by Pima as their new brand approach featuring mini-profiles of students that have moved on from Pima and become successful in their career path. “Striving sounds better because it sounds more inspiring and better. I think if I were to see it out in public it would definitely motivate me to keep going and reaching towards my goals,” Jose Lopez, 18, Electrical Engineering major said. In addition to collaborating with Stamats, Pima renewed its contract with the Gordley Group on July 1 through June 30, 2023.
The Gordley Group previously had a 10-year tenure for Pima. The Gordley Group is a Tucson-based advertising agency that will implement the brand collective that Stamats has been working on while advising the college on the best way to execute the new brand through different mediums. The Gordley Group has worked in expanding Pima’s message from web design, print, outdoor, transportation, digital and TV advertising. According to the Governing Board Report, PCC’s external relations department received four gold and three silver 2018 Medallion Awards from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, District 6, because of the work provided in advertising by the Gordley Group. Gold awards were given to the Television/Video advertisement and Outdoor media (billboard), both created by the Gordley Group for Pima. The silver awards were given for print advertisements created by the Gordley Group.
Prior to Pima’s collaboration with Stamats, the Gordley Group created one of Pima’s most profitable advertising campaigns, “ThinkSmart,” which won the 2015 Paragon Award for print advertisement. “I think it’s going to be important for us, for a lot of reasons even beyond enrollment,” said Lisa Brosky, Chancellor of External Relations. “The college is in a really great period of change right now. With the introduction of Guided Pathways, we’re aligning our programs so that students have the ability to see each course and each semester they need to take. We are developing Centers of Excellence, which work in direct collaboration with workforce partners and higher education partners.
“Having a consistent message across the board helps with all of that. It helps potential students see and understand your message because they are getting it multiple ways and it helps your partners better understand what it is you’re trying to do. But it also shows that we are one institution. We may have six different campuses but we’re not six different colleges. We are one college with one message.
”Pima’s budget for the rebranding is $800,000, Stamats will receive $300,000 based on the total cost of design.
The remaining $500,000 will be used to implement advertising, which will be directed by the Gordley Group, Brosky said. The target of these new advertisements will be prospective students and campaigning for the larger programs such as the healthcare programs, like nursing and dental assisting. Along with the rebrand, Pima is remodeling its website. 90 percent of potential students, according to web audits provided by Stamats begin their college search online. This prompted the college to remodel its website with the target audience being potential students. An outline has been drafted based on the web audits with the creative following; all that is needed is the construction of the website.
The goal of this new branding is about preserving its longevity, which can take about five or six years depending upon the process of execution, Brosky said. “A good brand is more than just pretty pictures it’s about how you deliver your services, the types of services that you deliver, you may tweak the external messages of it a little bit but once it is there, it is who you are and where you wanna live for quite some time,” Brosky said. The importance of using a national advertising agency is that they have research capabilities beyond what Pima has, provides advertising space at the fraction of the cost.this sentence is unclear.
There’s also the ability to negotiate in a space where the only important voice in the room is that of an ad agency, and the fact that they’re optimizing the digital media opportunities that will help propel the college in the right direction, Brosky said.
On Jan. 1, Pima will roll out the brand and will use student focus groups and surveys to measure its success. Questions it will ask will include “Is it authentic?”; “Is it believable?”; and “Is it important?” to ensure the messages are unique to Pima.
As Brosky put it: Now Pima has the opportunity, “to tell our own story, our own way.”