A New Chapter
Iona University is known for its location, learning environment and its quality academics. The school boasts a 16-1 student to faculty ratio, a large network of alumni and a 20-mile trip to the heart of NYC.
But back when we met them in 2020, they were still Iona College. And they were ready to take the institution to the next level with a unique brand position, updated logo and new strategic vision.
After undergoing a transition of leadership and adopting a new strategic vision in 2019, Iona needed a refreshed, adaptable brand that fit their standards. They wanted their brand to show their commitment to intellectual inquiry, community engagement and diversity.
L&S’ assignment was to research Iona’s current brand perceptions, homing in on what sets the college apart from the competition and finding a way to communicate that to the public.
As part of this project, our team conducted a competitive review to understand competitor messaging and strategy. We even visited the campuses of other universities to help us understand what makes Iona unique. After our review, we completed strategic planning sessions with the stakeholders to learn about the vision of the institution, conducted an online survey to understand the current brand position and moderated focus groups to gauge new brand reactions.
After getting a good grasp on all the background information, our team created a new logo, positioning line and set of brand standards. Iona’s students and faculty wanted to stay true to the history of the school with embracing something new. So we created a fresh take on the traditional Celtic cross, bridging the university’s roots with its rapidly growing future. We took inspiration from their world-famous bagpipe band’s plaid kilts to come up with the concentric circles, interlocking to create a Celtic knot, representing unity and pride.
After building the logo, we created supporting brand rollout campaign pieces, including a TV spot, radio and print ads, apparel and admissions collateral. We also supplied Iona with an in-depth brand standards guide to act as a directional piece for departments across campus.
“Every decision we made during this project was rooted in research. Between vision sessions, surveys and focus groups, we had real feedback every step of the way that helped us optimize and ultimately come up with a brand that is true to Iona’s heritage but focused on the future of the institution.”
– Jamie Hegge, VP of Client Service
Iona made the most out of a school year clouded in uncertainty, not only making massive enrollment gains but also officially changing their name to Iona University.
The year the rebrand launched, new student enrollment increased 15 percent year-over-year. In addition to growth in students, their academic profile also increased. The average incoming freshman GPA rose to 3.4, up from 3.2, and the Honors Program applicants’ GPA rose to just under 4.0.
All told, Iona’s enrollment has grown 32% since 2019, and over the past three years, new freshman enrollment is up a staggering 35%. Iona’s future looks brighter than ever, as the university also announced plans to nearly double its footprint by acquiring a nearby campus in Bronxville.
since the rebrand, freshman enrollment is up 35%