Let’s stand out
With undergraduate applications declining across the UK, UWE Bristol wanted to differentiate themselves and communicate their position as a first-choice university for undergraduates. To achieve this, they needed a proposition and campaign expression that could flex to suit every channel, from the prospectus right through to advertising, social media, their website and experiential branding.
But most importantly, the idea had to be brave – it needed to deliver a step change in the way UWE Bristol talked to prospective students and signify a break from the norm.
Time and money well spent
Choosing a university is significant on many levels. In an 18-month decision-making period, teenagers are faced with mountains of prospectuses, UCAS fairs, Open Days, league tables, the influence of friends and family, applications and personal statements, not to mention their A Levels. It all culminates in a decision that will shape the rest of their life.
We needed to be authentic, distinctive and communicate in a way that would resonate with our audience. Remember – this is the digital-first generation brought up on Instagram and Snapchat. As savvy as they are self-reliant, they can spot stock photography a mile off and switch off to the traditional spiel of university Vice-Chancellors.
Despite the recent changes within the sector, prospective students still go through the same rollercoaster of emotions. Fear, anxiety, confusion, joy. But two overriding emotions shone through and formed the crux of our brief. Students should feel excited by the prospect of studying at UWE Bristol and reassured that the experience would be time and money well spent.
We made it our mission to uncover the key factors at play. What makes prospective students tick? With average student debt exceeding £50,000, employability is key. It’s all about improving your prospects and preparing yourself for the world of work. Students and potential employers demand so much more than just a degree – it should prepare them academically, personally, professionally and socially, to bring their ambitions to life.
Rooted in both our insight and the university’s overarching brand essence – a university for the real world – we established our undergraduate recruitment proposition: ‘More than a degree – a 360 experience’.
Visualising student life
We embarked on a number of photo shoots to capture real-life examples of student life at UWE Bristol, immersing ourselves across multiple campuses, degree shows, graduation ceremonies and the streets of Bristol. These images created an authentic backdrop to the ‘360° experience’.
To represent 360° visually, an infographic was created whose angled lines were used to create a visual style that was clearly ownable. Alongside each of the lines, an interesting or fun fact was written, each giving an insight, whether about the campus, university or the honesty of being a student.
This bold execution gave a great deal of flexibility to express the 360° experience. The angles created pockets of space that were easily populated with imagery and worked effortlessly as transitions on digital banners.
The 360° experience easily filtered across every part of the campaign which mapped to the prospective undergraduate journey and was a strong link back to UWE Bristol’s sentiment of ‘a university for the real world’.
The campaign has been a great success, with customer testing highlighting it as positive, inspiring and attractive in the eyes of all our intended audience groups. As a proposition, it accurately describes the experience that prospective students are looking for, encourages them to learn more about the university and conveys a strong focus on employability.
Compared to 2016, the campaign has driven an 11% increase in attendance at open days and a 24% increase in digital and printed prospectus requests; a monumental shift in engagement. And despite the downward trend in undergraduate applications across the UK, UWE Bristol has only seen a decrease of -6%, compared to a competitor average of -16%. The campaign has proved to be the point of difference required during such an important phase in the university’s development.