Students, faculty and staff were invited to participate in branding research workshops last week presented by Carnegie Dartlet, a marketing strategy and branding firm based out of Seattle, Washington. Jana Rucker, vice president for university communications and enrollment, said she chose the firm because of its innovative approach to branding, decision making and messaging based on research and data gathered in a collaborative environment. Rucker said the workshops seek to clarify, elevate and strengthen the Harding brand by researching how current Harding students, faculty and staff describe its current and future identities. Rucker said this research will be valuable because of the data and tools it will provide in creating a brand that is cohesive and has a strong presence in higher education.
“We’re not all the same, but we have a community, and I think that cohesiveness will come of a community that’s somewhat diverse,” Rucker said.
Two types of workshops were held: one focusing on personality and one on platform. Both involved interactive feedback and facilitated discussion from the students and administration in attendance.
Senior Curt Baker said he attended both workshops and hopes more students will get involved, because he noticed that most participants were faculty. Baker said he often hears the words “community of mission” but the meaning of the slogan has never been clear to him. Baker said he sees the workshops as highly beneficial and thinks they should happen regularly to continue developing the trajectory of the university.
“I think it’s really valuable to look to something like this as a way that Harding can be becoming the thing, the place, the community – the institution that we all hope for,” Baker said.
Dr. Jim Miller, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication, said he was very impressed with Carnegie Dartlet and the workshop he attended. Miller said he sees the workshops as a productive way for an institution to systematically examine, define and describe its identity and mission, while involving constituents in the process. Miller said now is an ideal time to collaborate and gather branding research to effectively communicate the purpose and vision of Harding.
“This group of faculty and staff and students – we know who we are. We know our strengths; we know our weaknesses,” Miller said. “And, it’s good to be part of a team that shares a really important common goal.”
Rucker said she will send out an email to students, faculty and staff this week for an online workshop available to those who were not able to attend to physical workshops. At the conclusion of the research process, Rucker said she will begin forming a strategic plan to reach the unified goals of the Harding brand.
“This is going to be something that is really exciting and is going to be a very transformational effort for us in a good way,” Rucker said.