HARRISBURG, Pa. – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is launching a new branding campaign to engage and retain students enrolled at HACC’s five campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through its global virtual learning program.
HACC, the largest and oldest of the 14 community colleges in Pennsylvania, is well-known and viewed favorably throughout the 10-county region it serves. However, many residents do not have a complete understanding of the rich and diverse educational and training resources the College offers.
“HACC’s branding, which was developed several years ago, no longer stood out among other educational options available to potential students. We decided that we needed a more focused approach,” said HACC President John J. "SKI" Sygielski.
Understanding the College needed a firm to conduct research to make informed decisions on how to accomplish its goal, the College completed a robust request for proposal (RFP) process in 2013. Interact Communications, an integrated marketing communications firm and expert on community colleges, was hired to conduct comprehensive research involving HACC’s multiple constituencies and use that research to develop and execute an effective brand to recruit and retain students.
Extensive research was conducted by Interact Communications through December 2013 to
understand the perceptions of HACC and what the public relates to. The development of the brand must be based on strategic research to ensure it is identifiable with its audiences. The research included:
- On-site campus visits
- Interviews with employees, community and HACC Foundation leaders
- Competitor review
- Communications audit
- Online surveys completed by 1,790 board members, employees and students
- Six focus groups with employees, high school students, parents of high school students, working adults, community and business leaders and online high school students
- 500 telephone surveys to test attributes
- Four focus groups to test the brand concept
The research confirmed that many Central Pennsylvania residents believe that HACC belongs to them. They feel a kinship with the College and believe in it. As a result, the new brand needed to be flexible, relatable and unique while also communicating HACC is YOUR college. Using simple words, such as “Completely YOURS.” or “Financially YOURS.,” HACC is encouraging and showing traditional and non-traditional students, the parents of high school students, community leaders and the public that HACC supports you – whether you are completing two courses, transferring to a four-year college or completing your associate degree.
The College has worked closely with Interact Communications to re-evaluate the College’s advertising, branding, marketing and public relations efforts to adjust the institution’s approach and thinking in reaching prospective students and retaining the close to 21,000 students currently enrolled.
Through this intense process, HACC has gained a more thorough understanding of its diverse audiences, which, in the end, will help the College in meeting its goals to increase enrollment and training programs in business and industry.
“This is a major effort to promote HACC’s vision of being the first choice for a quality and accessible higher education opportunity,” said Sygielski.
Examples of how the new brand is being used are available below.
This Web slide for two upcoming recruitment events focuses on the student – “you” – with the compelling message that “It’s YOUR call” to embrace the new branding and emphasize “YOURS.” The Web slide appears prominently in the center of the homepage of www.hacc.edu, drawing attention to the basics of the upcoming event while also driving people to the website to register to attend.
The new branding, “YOURS.”, emphasizes the student as “everyman” with the message that “you” can imagine yourself at HACC. In this flyer, the eye is drawn to the image in the center of the design, while the information about the event is cleanly displayed on the left.
This design allows for a testimonial about the importance of scholarships to student success. “YOURS.” takes on a dual role with an appeal to students as shown in the focus on the face of the student in the middle of the design. It also appeals to potential donors who can relate to the importance of their gifts to help others. The content flows with the design, allowing the reader to grasp information in digestible bites.
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, offers nearly 200 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to more than 20,000 students at five campuses in Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York and through virtual learning. In addition, HACC serves more than 29,000 students in noncredit workforce development, public safety, adult basic education and continuing education programs offered at all campuses and off-site locations in many communities in Central Pennsylvania. For more information about what HACC has to offer, visit www.hacc.edu.