For the nation’s most selective university, it would be easy enough to rest on reputation and bask in the Silicon Valley sun. But Stanford did not become the gold standard of student opportunity without constantly communicating and refining its vision—and its culture of pervasive excellence.
Best in Show, 2016 / Viewbook Higher Education Marketing Report’s Advertising Awards
Excellence / Viewbook University & College Designers Association's 2016 Design Competition
“The message is on brand throughout and truly communicates Stanford’s heritage, culture, and mission. This program stands out on all fronts.”
— Judges’ report, C.A.S.E. Circle of Excellence (Grand Gold winner for first-generation program)
In the first generation of communications we developed, “The Wind of Freedom . . .”—drawn from the motto on the University seal—was the tone-setting theme for a strategy that showed the Stanford ethos in action. Understanding that many prospective international and domestic students were unclear about the University’s location (our research indicated that Stanford was frequently associated with Los Angeles), we developed a narrative about a university whose people in the arts, humanities, and sciences have shaped the world with the same creativity and change-making proclivity that shaped the University’s Silicon Valley neighborhood.
In 2015, we developed a new strategy built around the concept of “Energy,” a nod to the University’s indominable and historic spirit. The program acknowledges today’s students’ generative nature and the value they place on creativity—and underscores the resources and opportunities the University makes available to support their interests. Throughout the program, we highlight Stanford’s exemplary success in building an inclusive community for an enrollment in which there is no majority social identifier. The cohesiveness, and sense of Stanford-as-a-home, is clearly a significant ingredient of its singular culture.
In addition to our role as creative strategists and designers of the recruitment materials, we have served as content strategists and developers for the undergraduate admissions site and the admitted student site.
The year after our first strategy was launched, Stanford became the most selective university in the nation. In 2016, the University received nearly 44,000 applications—the largest pool in its history. At 4.69 percent, the admit rate was the lowest in Stanford’s history, and follows successive years of increasing selectivity and diversity.