New College of Florida, Brand Positioning Strategy
New College of Florida (NCF) has issued an RFP to help NCF:
- Create a distinct positioning that it can uniquely own
- Identify the most compelling messaging directions as well as specific messages for the College
- Understand the key messages that can help differentiate NCF from the competition through compelling proof
- Engage the College in a process that aligns thinking internally and results in external audiences considering the NCF brand in a favorable light
A national leader in the arts and sciences, New College is a public, independent liberal arts college recognized nationally for academic excellence and value. It was founded originally as a private institution and is now an autonomous institution within the State University System of Florida and designated as the State Honors College. Founded in 1960, New College specializes in student-centered learning through collaborative curriculum development and independent research motivated by strong intellectual curiosity. We have earned many accolades and distinctions, among them a place in Loren Pope’s book, Colleges That Change Lives, and consistent national rankings by the leading arbiters of higher education.
The College is situated on a beautiful 110-acre campus in northern Sarasota County just two miles from the heart of one of America’s most admired small cities and within minutes of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, one hour south of Tampa, and 10 minutes by bus or bicycle from downtown Sarasota, which Money magazine named one of the country’s “best places to live.”
We are located in the emerging University district, an area of higher education, culture and arts that includes New College of Florida, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, the Florida State University Ringling Center for the Cultural Arts, State College of Florida and the Ringling School of Art and Design along with area businesses and property owners.
Nearby cultural and recreational resources abound, including the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, located next door to campus, and the white sand beaches of Siesta Key, rated as America’s Best Beach for 2011 by Dr. Beach.
The 110-acre campus blends classic landmark buildings with modern facilities. New College’s visionary master plan incorporates state-of-the-art environmental design into campus architecture and landscaping.
The main Bayfront Campus lies along the Gulf of Mexico on the former estate of circus magnate Charles Ringling. Enter through the iconic Ringling arch and stroll down canopied Dort Promenade all the way to College and Cook Halls connected by a colonnade opening onto a vast lawn and Sarasota Bay a favorite gathering spot for yoga and sunsets.
Across the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) and linked by overhead pedestrian bridge is the Pei Campus, the hub of student and residential life and home to five new “green” residence halls and a recently renovated student union with its own student-run Black Box Theater.
The Caples campus, home to the Caples Fine Arts Complex (1992) and Environmental Studies program, is located on Bay Shore Road just south of the Ringling Museum. The New College sailing program is located on the bay, behind the Caples Mansion. The Caples campus is also home to the student academic gardens and New College Food Forest/Carbon Farm.
Our newest first-class facilities include a dedicated Academic Center and Koski Plaza incorporating sustainable features (2011); a Public Archaeology Lab (2010) for processing and interpreting artifacts, preparing archaeological site reports and storing excavated finds; the Pritzker Marine Biology Research Center (2001) with seven research labs and over 100 aquariums; and the Heiser Natural Sciences Center Complex (2000) with teaching and research labs for chemistry, biology, computational science, physics and math.
Scope of Work:
While observing the above description, vendor proposals should focus on accomplishing the following that may be addressed separately or as a single, comprehensive package. If a vendor only provides services that accomplish a limited number of the potential elements, they are still encouraged to submit a proposal as NCF reserves the right to make multiple awards to fulfill the requirements.
The vendor(s) will conduct a review of current marketing materials and messaging with a focus on identifying which pieces have been most effective. The vendor(s) will interview staff in Admissions, Advancement, Student Affairs and Marketing & Communications as well as the President and Provost to understand audiences and specific objectives for current and future marketing initiatives. The vendor(s) will conduct an in-depth analysis of select (6 to 10) competitors’ marketing materials and web presence. The focus should be on identifying key program differentiators, language that identifies their respective positions and understanding to whom they are trying to appeal. The vendor(s) will conduct stakeholder interviews with administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, community members and legislators. The vendor(s) will lead focus groups with applicants, admitted students and rejectors both locally and nationally.
Positioning Development & Refinement:
Based on the research inputs, the vendor(s) will help the College distill our thinking to a focused positioning by developing several (2 to 3) positioning options for the College. Each option should articulate the relevance it has to several audiences and prioritize evidence that is the best fit with the overall concept.
The vendor(s) will hold a half-day workshop with the NCF leadership team to help them understand how the positioning should impact their audiences. An audience-profile document should show how the positioning maps to the audiences using available insights from the research efforts and the experience that the group has. Feedback from this workshop will be used to determine the final positioning option to pursue. The successful respondent(s), if any, will enter into a contract with NCF that provides for the performance of all terms and conditions set forth in this ITN unless NCF has agreed to accept or negotiate certain terms and conditions as described in APPENDIX II. Non-negotiable terms and conditions (as indicated on Appendix I) must always be performed by the Respondent(s).
Procurement Services DEPARTMENT
Palmer D, First Floor
New College of Florida
5800 Bay Shore Road
Sarasota, FL 34243
Strong Florida PR firms include Zimmerman PR and Finn Partners.