Birthdays aren’t just about getting older. They’re a time to realize where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and where we want to go. Not to mention, a time to celebrate.
And, of course, higher education institutions have their own birthdays. From the 50-year semicentennials and 100-year centennials to the 125-year quasquicentennials and 150-year sesquicentennials, these milestone years not only call for celebration, but are the perfect time to recognize significant institutional achievements.
Over the years, CCA has worked with hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide—sometimes during their own big anniversaries. While celebratory events are important in building a collective pride for an institution, they are also an appropriate time to both leverage and strengthen your brand by reflecting and reaffirming a brand promise and reengaging audiences, both internally and externally.
Recently, our firm completed a successful campaign celebrating a client’s 75th, or dodranscentennial, anniversary. We shared our presentation at the AMA’s Symposium for Higher Education with many attendees gearing up for anniversary milestones at their own institutions.
Here are a few of the tips we shared:
1. Set some goals.
Aside from celebrating the big event, what do you want to accomplish in shaping a marketing strategy for your anniversary campaign? It’s going to be different for every institution. With this particular client, we focused on three goals, and everything we did laddered back up to these:
- Inspire—to apply, get involved, and reconnect.
- Educate—about heritage, mission, and brand promise.
- Celebrate—with some fun during the process.
2. Plan ahead.
Be sure to get out the calendar and plan well ahead. After all, there are a lot of details to consider, stakeholders to engage, materials to produce, and events to plan. Give yourself and your team plenty of time to build up to the anniversary to organize, prioritize, and plan. With this client, we took about 18 months. Remember, it’s more of a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Build your team.
This isn’t a solitary exercise—it’s a team effort. Create a taskforce on campus—a committee representing all key institutional constituents—of students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and leadership. Reach out to the community and engage industry partners. And, of course, if you have a marketing partner, bring them in from the very beginning.
4. Show off.
This is the fun part! Here, you can plan all of the great things that you’ll create to promote and celebrate the big event: anniversary logo, anniversary-branded media, holiday cards, commemorative publications, microsite, timelines, social media calendar, and photography.
Have an anniversary on the horizon? If you have any questions on where to begin, what goals to set, or how to make your brand shine, let us know. We’re here to help.