Now the future looks good


Norfolk State University’s reputation had taken a hit, and it needed to act quickly. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools had placed its accreditation on probation, and by 2015, its enrollment had plummeted to only 5,000 students.

It needed a reputation and brand re-set, and that process needed to start by assessing where it stood and how it had fallen short of stakeholder expectations. But we also needed to find out what made Norfolk State still appealing.

Of the many insights we unearthed through surveys and in-person interviews, we found that the legacy and appeal of attending a historically black college and university still resonated with many, as did Norfolk State’s lesser-known but strong STEM, business, and performing arts programs. Similarly, a supportive, nurturing environment was one stakeholders identified as an asset and a draw.

Working with our longtime partner, Fuseideas, we initiated a top-to-bottom brand overhaul based on these findings, centered around the theme, “We See the Future in You.” As we worked to develop and test the rebranded communications materials, we provided crisis and reputation management services to stem the tide, and by 2017, Norfolk State’s application rate jumped 250 percent from the previous year.

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