Countdown to Columbia 2021
Updated: Jun 9
Starting Columbia College is a major life milestone students will always remember, my job as a communications specialist is to make it as memorable and exciting as it can be.
2021 is a unique year. Community is not entirely post-COVID recovered, students are emotionally strained, eager to connect, anxious about protocols and may have never set foot on campus before.
Visual strategy chosen for the campaign is supported by bright, fun visuals. They are letting students know that Columbia is excited to have them as they are excited to be part of the University community now. Creating this bond between the students and the College and firmly fixing their belief that the College is supportive and student-centric is crucial for future external brand ambassadorship.
Information campaign is focused on announcing key milestones, dates and to-do’s that are part of matriculation; providing a roadmap to help students organize and prioritize all information; generating excitement about and participation in College trad
itions, history and culture; and establishing a common identity for the Class of 2025 that can carry over into graduation and alumni giving later on.
Visuals are designed to support an array of messages, so they are built as a flexible yet consistent series of graphics featuring the main Columbia "heroine" - Alma. This character represents renowned Columbia symbol - the statue of Alma Mater on the steps of Low Library in the heart of Columbia University Morningside Campus in New York City. Alma appears as a main cheerleader in the Countdown to Class Day campaign too - these two experiences are the bookends of the student life as "Columbians" - so it's she's expected to meet the new students as well as bid farewell to the graduating ones.
Developing graphic assets for an information campaign targeted at multiple audience bodies is always challenging: visuals have to be general enough to appeal to the majority of people; "columbia" enough to be adherent to the mother brand, but different from the baseline, formal branding to be it's own new and exciting identity; they need to be ADA compliant and considerable of diversity and inclusion policies; and they have to be quick and easy to use for the non-creative staff working on the messaging.
A "mix-and-match" approach has proven to be successful with the graphics designed earlier for another campaign, so I created a suite of illustrations, badges and icons to accompany all typical types of messages. Newsletter headers and icons are uploaded to the Marketing Cloud prior to the beginning of the campaign, so they are available to use for the email marketing specialists; the rest of the assets shared as .png files with transparent backgrounds with the team and partners supporting the campaign. Theme is flexible and easily applied to the website (new headers) and title slides/animated graphics in the promotional videos.