Marketing RFP Issued For Vermont State Colleges

Vermont State House Montpelier VT 2014 10 18 10

The combined entity will be launched on July 1, 2023. As of the date of this proposal, work on this transformation process has begun; but the name of the new institution is yet to be decided. This consolidation requires a new institutional presence, including name, brand and visual identity, that unites the three institutions under a common accreditation, administration, and mission while 1) promoting the expanded opportunities and strengths inherent in the unification, 2) helping to create a shared culture and pride for the new institution, 3) expanding the outreach to adult learners seeking to complete degrees, as well as to upskill and reskill and 4) reflecting the diversity of our campus cultures, environments, and programs

The Vermont State Colleges System is seeking proposals for Audience Research, Naming, Brand Strategy and Development, logo development, and print and design collateral for a new, single-accredited university created from the unification of Castleton University, Northern Vermont University, and Vermont Technical College.

We are seeking proposals from qualified, full-service agencies or partnerships for 1) Audience research to name the new combined entity and to inform the brand; 2) Brand strategy and development; 3) Collateral, including items such as print and advertising, for a robust 9-12 month transitional marketing campaign, 4) Collateral, including key publications and assets for the new entity such as viewbook, brochure, digital and print ads, etc. for fall 2022 recruitment cycle; and 5) Creation of a logo for the new entity with variations for use with campus and other identity names (these names based on academic groupings are not yet developed, but might be something like School of Technology). A website for the new combined institution is excluded from this RFP. An RFP for a new website will be launched in fall 2021. Bidders may respond to any or all of the services required.

Together we offer higher educational opportunities ranging from Early College and Dual Enrollment to undergraduate and graduate degrees, to credit-bearing and non-credit- bearing professional training and certificates. We have a combination of traditional residential campuses (now colleges/universities) and additional learning sites across Vermont. A fully online division offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with individual colleges offering online degrees as well. Together we bring educational opportunities to all the compass points of Vermont and attract students from outside the borders of Vermont. The chosen firm will be charged with achieving these deliverables through an inclusive process that incorporates ideas and feedback from stakeholders at the institutions and the Office of the Chancellor.


Castleton University is small enough to be a community where every student matters, yet large enough to offer more than 75 programs of study for undergraduate and graduate students, 28 varsity sports, and over 50 clubs and organizations. The university stresses experiential learning through internships, community service and research opportunities provided by more than 400 community partnerships. Northern Vermont University Northern Vermont University is a two-campus institution of higher education that combines the best of our campuses’ nationally recognized liberal arts and professional programs. Our wide range of science, humanities, arts, business, and professional programs are grounded in our commitment to our NVU students. At Northern Vermont University, our goal is to guide curious, motivated, and engaged students on their paths to success and their places in the world. NVU Online offers flexible, affordable, high-quality options for learners pursuing their bachelor’s and master’s degrees as well as certificates. Located in the northern tier of Vermont, NVU offers a full range of associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as credit and non-credit certificates and professional development courses. Learn more at Vermont Technical College Vermont Technical College is a leading public college with a mission of applied education and studentcenteredness. One of the four institutions of the Vermont State Colleges System, Vermont Tech serves students from throughout Vermont, New England, and beyond at its residential campuses in Williston and Randolph Center, regional campuses in Brattleboro and Bennington, and at seven nursing sites located throughout the state. Vermont Tech features state-of-the-art laboratory experience and a highly personalized classroom and student-life experience. All of our programs utilize a technological educational component, from the simulators used by our nursing program around the state, to manufacturing laboratories in Randolph Center and Williston. Our academic programs encompass a wide range of engineering technology, agricultural, health, and business fields that are vital to producing the knowledgeable workers needed most by employers in the state and in the region.

Scope of Work:

We seek to create an authentic, distinctive, and aspirational name, brand strategy, and visual identity for this new institution. We intend to lead the nation with this unique transformation. Our name, brand, and visual identity must stand out within and beyond the borders of Vermont. The new name, brand, and visual identity must tell our collective story and build our new story in an authentic and relatable way. While each organization currently has its own name, brand strategy, and visual identity, we need to build recognition, excitement, and trust for the new institution. The questions we are asking ourselves include, how do we seize this opportunity to distinguish this new, yet-to-be-named institution and illustrate excitement for our new institution without abandoning those who love our current institutions? Do we want something modern or traditional? What will our new institution’s name, branding tagline, and high-level branding statements be? How do we market as this new institution while reflecting beloved attributes and traditions of our current campuses? We need a singularly memorable name and brand that capitalizes on the Vermont brand along with a clear way for students to identify access points regardless of where they are located. Should the logo harken to the identities of our respective institutions (e.g., contain elements of our current logos and color palettes) or break completely away? The Vermont State Colleges and its faculty are currently working with an external consultant to identify the most appropriate array of high-quality and relevant academic programs for the new entity. Looking ahead, we anticipate that students will be able to access programs at a location that works for them, on a schedule that works for them, and in a format that works for them. For example, a student may reside on one campus and take courses at another campus location. While we will continue to offer our courses, degrees, and programs in-person, we will also deliver courses through hybrid, remote, and online modalities. Additionally, the identities of two of our current universities are squarely based on their existing location while the identity of the third is based on its hands-on, experiential technical program offerings and outcomes. We seek audience-based research to inform our decisions, and the new institution name, in order to position the unified institution to achieve these goals. The chosen firm, working in conjunction with the marketing leads of each institution and the Office of the Chancellor, will be able to synthesize this information to define who and how potential students will be served by the newly consolidated entity’s name, brand identity, and purpose. Identifying and synthesizing the value propositions and key audiences of the member institutions is critical to determining what each brings to the unification as well as to helping inform how to leverage this information to create the brand identity for the new institution. Collateral Content, Design Recommendations, and Print and Digital Materials Currently each of the three institutions have their own uniquely branded — and very distinct — collateral materials. We need a new shared visual identity and organizational structure for our view books and other marketing publications that promotes the combined strengths and additional features the unified university brings to prospective students while also helping the student understand the distinctions of each campus (campus culture, academics, and athletics) to aid in their ultimate decision. Timeline The unified college will be launched on July 1, 2023. Given the enrollment cycle, the name of the new institution must be available for Fall 2021, therefore the audience research relevant to the name must be completed by July 15, 2021. Additionally, Admissions staff need to have limited print material and message points ready by Fall 2021. A robust transition marketing campaign will also need to be in place by Fall 2021 to help potential students (as well as existing/returning students) understand the transformation. Full recruiting material and an accompanying website will need to be in place by August 2022 to recruit the incoming class for Fall 2023. Because deliverables will take place over the course of more than 12 months, the timeline will include phases of work: June-July 15, 2021 July 15-Oct ’21 Oct ‘21-May ’22 Apr-June ’22 Audience Research and Name Development Branding Ad design Key collateral design Pre-launch marketing initiative Website development (not in RFP) Although we envision the project proceeding according to this schedule, your proposal and any resulting agreement must include VSC’s absolute right to cancel future services after 60 days written notice, without payment of cancellation or termination charges.

As noted in the Overview, we need to create an authentic, distinctive, and aspirational brand strategy and visual identity for this new institution, as well as a new name. We will look to the winning firm to engage in qualitative and quantitative research with in-state and out-of-state stakeholders (prospective students, students, faculty, staff, employers, alumni, and referring agencies – the Vermont Department of Labor, VSAC, high school counselors). Through qualitative and quantitative research, the winning firm will put forward a proposed name for the new entity and craft a brand construct that includes the defining characteristics and attributes, the unique brand experience, what physical and emotional benefits exist, and the brand meaning. Based on the research results and synthesis of existing needs states and institutional contributions, the winning firm will provide its recommendations for brand identity, to inform the value proposition, and brand icons, fonts, images, symbols, visual design elements, colors, marks, or any other features that will identify the newly consolidated entity. Deliverables

• Proposed name(s) for the new institution, including a narrative summary, on or before July 15, 2021;

• Qualitative and quantitative data;

• Brand construct, based on tested brand frameworks;

• Survey instrument designed to study consumer preferences for framework options;

• Analysis and narrative summary of findings, including recommendations of proposed name(s) and to inform brand identity;

• A report that outlines key themes from stakeholder discussions, identifies creative goals and objectives, and recommends an overall branding strategy, color palette, and typography;

• Logo development;

• Branding guide.

We need support in creating a shared visual identity for our Admissions publications and advertising. Will a shared view book promote the university as one entity with shared aspects of each campus? Or will the shared view book devote sections to each campus? We need assets for our Admissions staff and for a transitional marketing campaign in Fall 2021, as well as for the new university in Fall 2022.


• Collateral, including proposed costs for two sets of digital ads and ‘one sheet’ for admissions use in fall 2021 as part of a robust 9-12 month transitional marketing campaign;

• Collateral, including proposed costs for a view book for fall 2022 recruitment cycle

Due Date:

4 p.m. EST, May 14, 2021

Address:   Relevant agencies to consider include Finn Partners and Peppercom.

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