Education Case Study

Setting Brand on Potentially Differentiated Path


Administrators of The University of Alabama-Birmingham had higher-than-average student transfer rate. They suspected that their outreach efforts might be one culprit.




As the strategist for an education-focused advertising agency, I was charged with understanding these challenges via primary and secondary research, developing a strategy based on research-based insights, and selling that strategy into the administration.

  • The desk research and student interviews led me to conclude that the churn was driven by a lack of relevance anchored in a disconnect between the University’s brand identity and student expectations. Students came to UAB for its diversity and urban setting. But UAB projected a “rah rah” identity because they (incorrectly) thought they were competing against the main University of Alabama campus and Auburn. The actual competitive set were schools like Cleveland State University and The University of Illinois-Chicago. Outreach efforts needed to better align with this reality.

  • This research provided the background for me to write the platform / tag line “Proudly Different” and a “bigger idea” that UAB could be center of innovation in the growing Birmingham economy.

  • As team leader, I presented the work to the University’s President and Board of Directors and they embraced the ideas.


The platform / tag line provided the creative team what they needed to create the first direct mail campaign.



  • Education



  • Category Research and Competitive Analysis

  • Stakeholder Interviews and Customer Experience Mapping




  • Brand Positioning, Architecture, Extensions, and Activation

  • Brand Education


  • Tag Line, and Brand Essence Creation

  • Direct Mail Development


© 2017 by Jonathan B Davis

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