first in the nation
When Cheyney University, the nation’s oldest Hisorically Black Institution of Higher Education, wanted to broaden its audience, they retained accent to develop a strategy that would identify and reach new markets. By weaving together the school’s African American roots with the larger American story, we expanded Cheyney’s effectiveness in reaching corporations, foundation and alumni. Each communication vehicle — from newsletter to annual report — simultaneously reinforced the graphic branding while pairing a key message with relevant potential donors.
history made here
Drawing on historically significant icons, accent developed a new logo, incorporating a “dove of peace” with 13 leaves representing the 13 Quaker founders.
cheyney large logo sign
- Increased Awareness 40% 40%
- Monetary Increase 21% 21%
coming into focus
accent held extensive focus groups with alumni to get to the heart of what motivates them to stay connected and engaged with the University. We discovered that many alumni didn’t feel their success was well-represented. Our brand strategy addressed this visually by always showing students and alumni “inside” the surrounding white graphic boxes. We wanted it to be clear that Cheyney alumni and students are never looking in, but looking out and looking forward. The alumni inspired us in other ways, too, including for the annual appeal. Our concept was to emphasize the University’s roots and we did so by showcasing current students with successful alumni in parallel fields of study.
seeing their spirit
When we built the Cheyney brand, it was important to capture the Cheyney spirit through the energy of its students. The brand guide we created needed to visualize what those at Cheyney knew — that its students had passion, pride and power. We captured hundreds of students illustrating this over a three-day photo shoot while coordinating “looks” for each person. accent’s team spoke with and noted each student and their unique qualities so we could quickly find them when showcasing the students in the future. That year’s annual report showed our skills through strong imagery and how we can pull archived material to match future copy.
- Commitment Increase 33% 33%
that cheyney connection
Planned giving is a long-term commitment that can be confusing to donors. accent recruited real people to show how easy it is to give and what it means to them — that it’s inspired by love, honor and connection. We wanted to show the faces and hearts behind the giving. accent photographed the donors doing what they love, from hobbies to being connected to the students, that reflected back on their love for Cheyney. We made it clear that these were ordinary people who supported the University, so each person looking at our photos thought, “I can do this too.” We showed that planned giving can be streamlined and accessible for people from all walks of life.
all for one
An important component of our brand strategy was to increase the University’s regional profile. To do this, we created Cheyney Magazine, which combined all of the campus’s newsletters into one recruiting and information tool for the first time in the University’s history. With a diverse audience of students, alumni, friends, faculty, staff, donors and corporations, our goal was to reach each one by projecting Cheyney’s success, place in history and continued vitality.
- Application Increase 30% 30%
it’s an honor
The Cheyney University Keystone Honors Academy is the University’s most important recruiting tool. This government-funded initiative targets high school seniors in honors programs for full scholarships. accent moderated focus groups and created a brand strategy to promote this program to regional high school students. Our photography highlighted Cheyney students making a difference in their communities and the world through the careers they were building at Cheyney. High school students were able, from our images, to see themselves having a real impact. From promotional posters to a social media presence, incoming University applications jumped by more than 30 percent.
key to success
Building on our tailored brand strategy, the accent team’s next priority was to create an easily identifiable logotype to unite all Cheyney signage and collateral. A focus group of Keystone Honors Academy students provided the insight that lead to a major campus launch of the new logotype, which had a special font and uniquely designed key. The students themselves had voice and ownership of this visual today and for the future.