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Dr. Jean Grow knows the power of branding firsthand.
While creating a marketing campaign for the Badger Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Dr. Grow was referred by her client to work on a project with Southeastern Youth and Family Services (SYFS), an association that teaches valuable life skills to at-risk kids in the Milwaukee community. The organization needed to update their corporate brand in order to attract new volunteers and donors. Seeing an opportunity to bring practical experience into her classroom, Dr. Grow immediately contacted the organization and a strategy was set into motion.
“The objective was to re-envision the organization; to create a new and energized brand identity for them,” Dr. Grow says. From the very beginning she and her ADPR marketing students immersed themselves fully into the project, conducting research and talking with the SYFS board members and children involved with the program.
Working collaboratively, the class developed the campaign “Focusing the Power Within.” This project highlighted the services and accomplishments of SYFS by including artwork from program participants into their materials. The students emphasized the organization’s best asset—the children, focusing on the accomplishments, compassion and a renewed sense of hope for its participants.
Throughout the semester, Dr. Grow’s team of students developed a new visual identity and overall branding strategy, as well as comprehensive plans for budgeting, signage, media kits and local radio sponsorships to increase public awareness of the SYFS mission.
Challenges along the way included convincing the organization’s more traditional employees and board members of the benefits of this new corporate identity. Dr. Grow, however, saw this as a valuable opportunity for her students to gain experience persuading their client to see the value of their strategic plan and the possibilities for growth by implementing the new ideas.
Ultimately, Dr. Grow say that her class benefited tremendously from the semester-long marketing campaign project. Today, well after the end of the class, a few of the students continue working with SYFS to implement parts of the campaign. Dr. Grow continues to be active in assisting the organization as well, helping with their annual fundraising efforts.
“It was a fantastic experience for them,” she says of her class. “Especially for the students without industry experience. They got to work with a real client. To see their work actually produced was very exciting for them. And we all got a chance to make a real difference in our community.”