"Make peace a passion." Lisa Jordan of the marketing and branding company Mindpower Inc. offered this statement as the "Goshen essence" in four identical presentations to Goshen College on Wednesday.
The college spent about $50,000 last fall to hire Mindpower Inc., an Atlanta-based company charged with the reassessment of Goshen College's brand – or claim of distinction.
"Branding is not our core values; it's not a mission statement," said Richard Aguirre, director of public relations. According to Aguirre, a brand is a phrase capturing the essence of an institution itself.
Jordan explained that for Goshen College, the core values needed to be distilled in order to reach this new brand, as they aren't competitive among competing institutions.
"Goshen's virtually unknown in the regional area and even in the state of Indiana," said President Jim Brenneman. "Having an expert third set of eyes with a track record such as theirs – someone not having heard about us – was exactly what we wanted."
Preliminary visits by Mindpower Inc. were held in the fall in order to get to know the college and to hold focus groups and interviews with community members, students, faculty, alumni and administrators. "What we didn't expect [on our first visit] was the deeply joyful energy of the place," Jordan said. "There's this funky, intellectual vibe!"
Mindpower Inc. also waded through the majority of paper advertisements, admission brochures and other available information on Goshen College, to better understand the college's values and characteristics.
Simon and Angelique Birky-Hartmann, both seniors, were among those who participated in focus groups. "They asked us to talk about the college, what's it's like to be here," Simon said.
During her presentations, Jordan displayed quotations which represent major issues that surfaced during focus group sessions, such as political ideology misconceptions, academic rigor and why students choose Goshen College. Community members were also asked to reflect on the college's image in the focus groups.
Jordan cited one faculty quotation as a turning point in the research. It read: "Our students are big, broad thinkers. They think about peacemaking and all the different forms that it takes."
Additional comments highlighting students' ability to make peace with varying aspects of life inspired Mindpower Inc.'s statement and corollary of Goshen: "healing the world, peace by peace."
"You are positioned to take the lead [in peacemaking], regionally, nationally, even internationally," Jordan said.
Goshen's strong tradition of peacemaking is the core of this new brand. We are capable of not only peacemaking in the pacifist sense but in a versatile way.
The corollary begins, "Goshen College is the place for making peace in all its forms – with God, yourself and the world around you."
According to Jordan, clearly articulating Goshen's essence through the lens of versatile peacemaking will help attract students ideally suited for Goshen College. "Clearly defining who we are and presenting that image will draw students who resonate with those values," said Jordan.
The recent television advertisements were another way the college has initiated regional advertising. "We're not trying to reach a different student. We're trying to reach the ones who should have been here in the first place," said Lynn Jackson, vice president for enrollment management.
Mindpower Inc. also presented rough ideas of what marketing and implementation of this new brand would look like. Audience participants were asked for thoughts and feedback following Jordan's presentation.
Many comments were positive.
"I think it's really clever, helpful and true to Goshen," said Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication.
"They did a good job of embodying everything around us," said Simon. "A few things were missing though. They talked about S.S.T. in the advertisements, but they didn't mention international students at GC anywhere."
Since the marketing plan won't be finalized until April, adjustments will still be made.
For additional information or feedback on Mindpower Inc.'s branding, contact:
Will Jones, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn Jackson, email@example.com
Richard Aguirre, firstname.lastname@example.org