Working with Wayland Academy, a small, excellent boarding school in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, Kelsh Wilson created a branding program that’s all about capturing big themes in small examples—a strategy more schools would do well to consider.
Sometimes the small things you notice about a place tell a big story, giving you the sense of what it’s really like and why it’s really special. This is the belief at the heart of the messaging program that Kelsh Wilson has helped Wayland Academy create. To get a sense of what this approach looks like in action, consider a few “Wayland Moments”:
#1 “It’s walking across campus and realizing you know every single person you saw.”
#8 “It’s when a Latin student sees her Latin teacher in the cafeteria and says (in Latin) ‘Hail, Teacher, who is more than the greatest!’”
#14 “It’s having the house parent in your dorm room help sew your prom dress.”
These and a couple dozen other moments like them are featured in a mini-book stitched into the center of the Academy’s new viewbook, some paired with photos. The result is an eclectic collection of real quotes from real students and teachers capturing the personality and strengths of this wonderful school.
What’s so great about this approach? Three things:
It’s a home run with the target audience. We know because the concept is the result of a process of message-building and testing in which Kelsh Wilson sketched a broad range of creative options, then gathered reaction from prospective students and parents.
It’s accessible and addictive. These numbered “Moments” have all the power of the web’s best listicles, and package the school’s positioning into bite-size bits as easy to swallow as cream puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair.
It flexibly, scalably connects, print, web and social media. Wayland is already extending its Moments to the school’s Instagram posts and the email campaign from the Admissions Office. But that can be just the start. The list of Moments can grow forever. Visitors to campus can add their own. Alumni can get in on the fun too.
More broadly, the Moments answer questions every institution needs to face as it tells its story to the world: How are we setting ourselves apart? What are we saying that other schools aren’t?
Sometimes the answer is a tagline no one’s ever dreamed of before. Sometimes it comes from as a spark of inspiration in the mind of a talented designer. But often, the way you set yourself apart best is not through a single masterstroke in concept development. It’s in the content you create to populate the concept. It’s images and examples that are granular, and real, and get to the heart of what people who love your school love about it.
WAYLAND ACADEMY / VIEWBOOK
WAYLAND ACADEMY / MOMENTS
WAYLAND ACADEMY / SEARCH PIECE
WAYLAND ACADEMY / EMAIL MARKETING CAMPAIGN
WAYLAND ACADEMY / SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN
WAYLAND ACADEMY / BRAND & STYLE GUIDE