CASE STUDY: Northampton College
Susan Lewis, Director of Marketing, Northampton College
Building a powerful local brand
Context: Further Education (FE) Colleges are all to often tarred with the brush of being ‘second best’ to sixth forms and being the place for school ‘drop-outs’. This couldn’t be further from the truth, particularly in the case of Northampton College. Not only was it committed to improving the opportunities for people otherwise failed by ‘the system’ but it is also ambitious to grow itself and strong enough to take failing college under its wing.
The requirement: How to improve local perceptions of the college against the tide of local sixth form colleges, strong local specialist FE Colleges and prevailing negative perceptions of FE Colleges?
How to position Northampton College as progressive despite ageing infrastructure?
How to increase student recruitment to drive expansion and investment?
How to improve self-esteem, -worth and image within the College?
The outputs: Interviews and workshops with all members of the College corporation. Academic and support staff workshops. High street consumer surveys in two conurbations. Web base survey on a selected range of proposed identities. Joint presentation to a staff conference followed by breakout cascade briefing conducted by facilitators trained by Glued.
The results: The research and senior workshops developed a strong set of agreed values. These were written into the College Strategy and used as the basis to create a new identity for the College.
Research also revealed that the strength of the Northampton College name could amply accommodate a merger with a neighbouring college.
The selected brand not only encapsulated the College values but became the vehicle for its proposition to the community and business. It also symbolised the hub and spoke nature of the way Northampton College served its extended geography of operation.
In ensuing years Northampton College has secured significant investment in infrastructure, improved Ofsted Reports, better student satisfaction, and performance.