The stars recently aligned for the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law. The convergence of a $50 million naming gift from renowned trial lawyer Thomas R. Kline, a slate of new degree programs, and the construction of a new trial advocacy center presented the perfect opportunity for an updated brand strategy. The Kline School’s Director of Communications knew she could leverage a rebranding to accomplish several of the school’s marketing goals. With a two-person shop, however, she needed a strategy scaled to her team’s implementation capacity while also being distinctive and sweeping enough to set the Kline School apart from other top law schools. Drexel hired mStoner to develop an integrated brand and marketing strategy.
The Kline School of Law engaged mStoner to create a comprehensive strategy that would enhance all aspects of its brand and ultimately boost enrollment for years to come. The deliverables from mStoner’s work included:
In total, the deliverables worked together as a complete system, translating the Kline School’s brand into valuable positioning and laying out a customized, concrete plan for attracting and enrolling right-fit students.
Drexel University’s brand was already strong, so mStoner built upon that strength while highlighting the Kline School’s unique characteristics in the brand messaging and conceptual art.
"The Kline School had a pretty good sense of their strengths before we came along," said Ben Bilow, senior creative director, mStoner. "We added value by helping them articulate those strengths in a way that clarified their benefits for students."
Drexel University’s brand essence centers around experiential learning, which is also a defining element of a Kline School education. The university’s tagline, “Live It,” effectively encompasses the Kline School’s unparalleled immersive opportunities that differentiate them as a top law school. By relying on the university’s strong brand capital to tell the experiential learning story, the Kline School communications team could focus their resources on developing additional brand messages. This approach had the added benefit of syncing up with the university’s central communications office.
"The university’s central communications office liked everything they saw from our partnership with mStoner," said Greenblatt. "They felt that the work was done well and that the messaging was in line with what the University wants people to know about Drexel."
The final Kline School brand that mStoner recommended included:
Sarah Greenblatt, director of communications, Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law
Next, The Kline School and mStoner collaborated to execute the new brand strategy through a few high-priority projects. These included a re-organization of their site’s information architecture, a viewbook, and a slate of related print materials — all of which spoke to the needs and desires of prospective students through the recommended brand messages.
The viewbook and print materials emphasized the experiential learning attribute of the brand strategy. The Kline School offers an unmatched selection of co-ops, clinics, and pro bono work to give students one of the most immersive and practice-focused legal educations in the nation. The print pieces showed how individual students benefitted from the practice opportunities and also presented their timelines so prospects could understand how everything fits into three years.
mStoner recommended eliminating the audience gateway page for prospective students and instead focusing the whole site on prospective students, as best practice suggests. The project team also outlined a very simple topic navigation, cleaned up the menus, provided an improved template for program pages, and suggested a new section called “The Kline Difference” to highlight institutional strengths of specific interest to prospective students. mStoner also collaborated on a solution for consistent and more visible calls-to-action and conversion content: use a fly-out menu across all pages with links to “apply now,” “visit,” “make a gift,” or “news.”
"The IA strategy was a quantum change for us, said Greenblatt. "The recommendations mStoner made were really solid. The site is much more prospect-focused, as it should be. After all, that’s why you have a website in the first place."
Since collaborating with mStoner, Greenblatt reports her team has already started to implement the new brand messaging on the website and follow up on mStoner’s suggestion to create microcontent. She now regularly posts photos on Twitter and the admission pages with short, on-brand messages and a link to specific pages.
The Kline School achieved an 18 percent increase in applications this year. While a direct correlation to the rebranding would be impossible to draw, Greenblatt does allow that “it would be fair to say the increase may be associated with the rebranding.”
Greenblatt also received positive feedback on the rebranding and IA update from stakeholders. Appreciative words came in from the Founding Dean of the Kline School, the Dean of Admissions, and Drexel University’s central communications team, among others. On a recent recruitment trip, prospective students also spontaneously shared that the Kline School’s website was “better than others and that information was easier to find.”
Significant growth lies ahead for The Kline School. Three new degree programs and a trial advocacy center are poised to attract entirely new pools of students. The comprehensive framework of brand messaging and the ensuing suite of materials developed through this partnership has armed the already strong Kline School with powerful tools to influence their key audiences.
As one alumnus recently said, “The reason the Kline School is succeeding is because they are unapologetically innovative.” This savvy, agile institution knows it and lives it.
Brand research; focus groups; competitor research; brand framework and pillars; elevator pitches; brand messaging; persona development; conceptual brand art; editorial and content strategy; marketing tactics; web strategy; social media strategy; print strategy; information architecture development; sustainability recommendations; viewbook; enrollment print collateral