There is much to commend Cape Cod Community College to those seeking higher education on Cape Cod. 4Cs is a bargain, it’s hyper-local, it has some excellent programs – but many people believe the school “hides its lamp under a bushel”.
Little has changed with 4Cs' branding since at least the 1980s. There have been different variations on the “lamp” logo but those amount to lending occasional color to the monochromatic blue logo.
The version of the logo currently used on 4Cs website is solid blue and so small one cannot read the words. There are some squiggles under the slogan, which one imagines are “ocean waves” of some kind.
Low-Energy Web Site
Visit 4Cs' website and browse around. Everything that should be on a college website is there but all looks rather washed-out and low-energy.
Now go look at the websites for Bristol Community College and Bunker Hill Community College, two of the more successful community colleges in the Commonwealth. Both sites use rich, vivid colors to convey energy. Both sites have strong “calls to action” with context-sensitive graphics.
And “branding”? Bristol’s “branding page” and Bunker Hill’s Integrated Marketing and Communications page both shepherd their brands like Proctor & Gamble. 4Cs' College Communications page offers nothing more than a newsletter subscription and some press release archives.
Bridgewater does it right
If 4Cs wants to emulate anyone, they should check out the excellent ads which their new competitor Bridgewater State University in Yarmouth is running on local TV (see the top drawer promotional video below).
A visitor to 4Cs' website on Memorial Day sees students standing in front of brick walls, a man who looks like a professor sitting with a student in plastic chairs at a plastic table, a couple of girls wearing lab goggles straight out of “Frankenstein” and a group of women lined up in front of a slate chalkboard in what look like medical or culinary uniforms.
Slate chalkboards in 2014? Who takes these pictures?
Over the entire site flies the ancient blue logo.
As we have researched our stories about 4Cs a common thread emerged that people feel the school is somehow “out of date”.
With the notable exception of online offerings, we do not believe things are terribly out-of-date at 4Cs. We believe we are witnessing more a misfire of the school’s branding than it is of the school’s programs.
From the droning, music-less radio ads to the washed-out website, 4Cs branding lacks the energy of the institutions with which it competes.
Re-branding 4Cs is a first step to engage current and former students. A good marketing plan will include steps to build on that engagement as the program moves forward.
How to Move Forward?
It is imperative that 4Cs develop a more contemporary brand if it is to prosper in the new climate of college competition.
The most aggressive move might be to outsource the entire 4Cs communications operation to an ad agency that has shown success marketing community colleges. Failing that, perhaps President Cox can poach some talent from one of the better-marketed community colleges.
Whatever the solution, increased competition and declining enrollment dictate the time has passed for committee meetings and study groups. It is time to act decisively.
4Cs has too much to offer to be held back by a faded brand.