Southeastern first looked to CRANE for help in 1998, as its new president–with a bold new vision– sought to establish the college as an academic leader in the evangelical world. We tapped into this optimism through mission statement retreats with administrators and faculty, then helped keep it rolling with integrated rhetoric that spoke simply yet powerfully of what the college and each of its people already were and could easily build on. The resulting tagline: Gathered in the Spirit. Ready to do the work.
New students flocked in response. Each successive year, admissions figures showed stunning upswings. Enrollment numbers, donors’ gifts, and college-wide enhancements continued to escalate, along with Southeastern’s visibility and reputation. When the 70th anniversary approached, it was time for this once unimposing college to become a confident university–and time to call on, again, the institution’s long-time strategic partner, CRANE.
First, we conducted a newly comprehensive series of focus groups and interviews that uncovered energetic words like vault, pulse, climb, crest, lift, and, not surprisingly, momentum. Convinced that Southeastern’s people were ready for this change, we constructed First Principles pinpointing our task. Our creative strategies for the transition, we realized, needed to meet a number of goals, including these primary ones:
- convey forward movement, expansion, and accomplishment
- speak powerfully to all constituencies, from students and parents to alumni, donors, local business owners, and pastors and churches within the Assemblies of God
- show Southeastern as reassuringly “on task”
- dovetail with Southeastern’s current brand identity, yet move onward
- affirm the goodness of the transition
For the transition’s broad theme, we chose the simple phrase Good work, which suggests an academic focus; encompasses both spiritual and practical efforts; and affirms Southeastern’s previous accomplishments, while putting to rest forever the long-outdated “Bible college” image by setting a vigorous, inspiring standard–Christian as well as academic– for the new era.
Southeastern’s strong brand equity infused the new university’s identity program. We retained the first phrase of the college’s original CRANE tagline–Gathered in the Spirit.–and updated the second phrase to convey the expanded programs and expertise of a university. No longer merely “ready to the work,” Southeastern University was now Equipping for every good work.
Employing an “unveiling” technique to build anticipation for the new Southeastern, we produced a sequential series of local billboard ads and mailers that read, in sequence: It’s new. / It’s good. / It’s strong. / It’s close. / It’s ready. And finally, with a clean new transitional mark: SEU. It’s here.
Six years of consistently record growth helped the college gain impetus for a university transition. And within five months of the exuberant launch of the brand-new University, Southeastern had surpassed all its admissions goals.
As Southeastern’s partnership with CRANE hit the decade mark, student population had almost tripled, numerous new graduate and undergraduate programs had been added, the campus had undergone a massive upgrade, net assets from operations had jumped, and the university graduated its largest class ever.
The university transition was a huge success— thanks to CRANE. We now have a 17.8 percent increase in enrollment over last year! Thanks for helping us look so good–again!
director of admissions