January 20, 2017
A tiny, two-year college in Montgomery County is set to unveil new branding as it seeks to become a more competitive player on Philadelphia's crowded higher education scene.
Manor College, an independent Catholic school of 700 students in Jenkintown, launched efforts in June to revise its logos, add a school tagline and redesign its website. The changes will be revealed January 27 during the college's annual Founder's Day celebration.
"Your logo is really your front door," said Kelly Peiffer, associate director of marketing communications. "It's your identifier. It really can affect how people think of you pretty heavily. We want to make sure people are thinking of us in the right way."
In that regard, Manor College administrators decided both the school's institutional and athletic logos needed some fresh paint. And its website needed an overhaul.
The institutional logo, a horizontal design featuring the college name beneath a roof topped by a Christian cross, lacked versatility and appeared stale. The athletic logo — a blue jay encompassed by a blue and white circular shield — needed a more competitive look.
By comparison, the logos of Manor College's chief competitors radiate fresh and modern. Now several decades old, Peiffer said some students did not even know the school had a logo.
"In looking at our logo, we decided that it was time for us to be more contemporary with the design," President Jonathan Peri said. "I can't say too much on it at the moment. I will say this — the logo and tagline describe who we are and create for us the message of the inviting environment that we already exist and hope to continue."
The rebranding is not completely without precedent. The college has undergone two name changes since its 1947 founding as St. Macrina's. It renamed itself Manor Junior College in 1959 before simply becoming Manor College in 1999.
Those changes accompanied other institutional developments, whereas its current rebranding efforts are essentially cosmetic.
Manor College is maintaining its vision and mission statements. It will continue offering the same academic programs, which include a reputable dental hygiene program, among others in the areas of health, science, math, business and liberal arts.
But Peri, inaugurated last April, hopes to boost the school's enrollment and eventually complement the school's two-year programs with several four-year offerings. Rebranding is an essential step toward promoting what he called Pennsylvania's "best-priced, private Catholic institution."
Manor College has a 9-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, Peri boasted. Its graduates earn more than the average national salary after graduation. And tuition sits at just under $16,000 per year.
Administrators tasked Mighty Engine, a business strategy firm in Philadelphia, with developing a rebranding strategy that encompasses all of that. But the strategy also needed to be inclusive — something that would resonate equally with prospective students, alumni, faculty and community members.
To do that, Mighty Engine consultants spoke with administrators. They toured the campus. And they interviewed students, including one who told of his astonishment that Peri knew his name.
"He was taken away by that," Mighty Engine Chief Executive Officer Heseung Song said. "It's that kind of place. There's a formality to it, but ... it's so warm."
A tagline emerged after Mighty Engine heard similar accounts of the college's homeliness. Focus groups examined several potential designs for the institutional and athletic logos, selecting designs that will be used on everything from campus banners to marketing materials.
"The rebranded logo looks a lot better," said freshman Nicole Suwala, 20, of Philadelphia. "It looks more modern than it was before."
Suwala was among numerous stakeholders asked to participate in the focus groups. Manor College also included faculty, recent and older alumni and community members in the process.
Sarah Clymer, a 2015 graduate who is interning with Manor's marketing department while attending Temple University, found the old logo difficult to use on marketing materials.
"It was definitely an older look," Clymer said. "I think that Manor is going forward and the new logo is going to represent that better."
Naturally, administrators are touting the new logos. Peiffer expects the institutional logo to particularly resonate.
"Almost everyone said that this logo makes me feel like I'm home," Peiffer said. "It makes me feel like I'm excited to be a part of this. We didn't necessarily get this before."
The revamped website is expected to be both aesthetically pleasing and much easier to navigate than the current version, which Peri called "structurally rigid." It also will enable prospective students to more easily complete an enrollment application on hand-held devices.
The tagline — essentially a slogan — is believed to be a first for the school.
"I hope it conveys the essence of who we are — that we are an inclusive, inviting institution that helps to lead students from wherever they may be in life to reaching their greatest potential," Peri said. "I think reaching their greatest potential is hugely important."