- Intense competition and entrenched misperceptions in Fairfield and Westchester counties.
- Soft enrollment, especially in the lower grades.
- To get the inside view, spent three days on campus conducting focus groups and interviews with current parents and students, senior leadership and trustees, faculty, and staff.
- To get the market view, conducted qualitative and survey research with external audiences including prospective best-fit families, previously accepted families who went elsewhere, feeder schools, and admissions directors at placement schools.
- Discovered serious misperceptions in the market (“too unstructured,” “not enough homework,” and “too much play”) which were perpetuated by the school itself. By highlighting their “play-based learning” pedagogy and telling prospective families to “trust the journey,” NCCS did not convey to prospective families the real power of its “progressive” learning environment.
- Developed five possible positioning statements. The internal project team chose three for further testing.
- The winning concept reflected the meaning behind what they had been saying all along but did so in a way that enabled families to understand the benefits to their child. It successfully made the case by explaining that play, among other methods at developmentally appropriate times, was intentional and led to the best life-long outcomes. Children enjoyed learning at NCCS and thrived as a consequence of a deliberate pedagogy.
- Developed Supportive Messages that gave more concrete detail about the approach and the results.
- Captured the promise of the school’s educational experience in the new “Go Boldly” tagline and brand voice.
- Trained leadership, faculty, staff, and parent ambassadors on using the brand positioning and Supportive Messages to make the case for the school with prospective families.
- Developed a brand campaign and creative concept to guide copy and design of print and digital communications.
- Brought the positioning to life through branding and marketing elements, including a logo refresh, new website, Inspiration piece, digital and print advertising, spirit wear, campus banners, and stationery package.
- Increase in yield in year 1.
- Increase in overall enrollment in year 2, necessitating an additional pre-kindergarten class to accommodate demand.
- A noticeable boost in school spirit and pride.
- After Message Training, word-of-mouth took flight through parents, faculty, staff, and leadership who were finally empowered with the right (and personal) words to describe the incredible learning environment and its impact on children.
Want even more insight?
Listen to our podcast interview with Brooke Springer, director of communications and marketing at New Canaan Country School. Brooke talks more about the work the school did with EdwardsCo and enrollment results.