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Marlboro College - 300 Clients: An Inclusive Approach to Institutional Communications

What happens when “the client” includes virtually everyone at an institution – from the president and Cabinet to every faculty, student, and staff member?

We (kor group and Libretto) collaborated with Marlboro College to design and execute an exceptionally inclusive creative process which we call “Creative Collection Week" – and satisfied its marketing skeptics along the way. Our collaboration has been featured in Higher Education Marketing Publication University Business. And we won three CASE awards!

The full story:

Marlboro College is an intentionally small, academically rigorous liberal arts institution in the foothills of southern Vermont’s Green Mountains. The College’s Graduate and Professional Studies programs are based on a second campus in nearby Brattleboro.

Marlboro engaged kor group and Libretto to shape the College’s first institutional messaging platform, create a new suite of admissions materials, develop print and radio advertising, refresh the College’s identity, and perform a complete overhaul of the school’s website. The engagement was both enriched and complicated by several factors:

  • Marlboro is an exceptionally inclusive environment; the school is governed through a town meeting model in which virtually everyone on campus participates, including students, faculty, senior leadership, and staff.
  • The culture at the College was characterized by a high level of scrutiny – and in some quarters, mistrust – regarding the validity, value, and intent of marketing-related activities.
  • The school’s undergraduate and graduate programs were widely viewed as siloed based on the physical separation of the two campuses and the fact that they had traditionally functioned as discrete entities.

The Marlboro/kor/Libretto team addressed these challenges head-on through an approach and process that reflected these factors.

  • A number of project activities took place in the context of the town meeting format, which enabled the creative team to involve hundreds of stakeholders in interview sessions and presentations.
  • The team organized and ran a “Creative Collection Week,” in which students were able to share their thoughts and impressions of Marlboro on a wall in the centrally located dining hall. Much of the content gathered through this public, transparent process was used in the actual admissions materials.
  • The discovery process uncovered a number of opportunities for connection and synergy between Marlboro’s undergraduate and graduate programs; these findings were incorporated into a comprehensive messaging platform. The platform, supported by new nomenclature for the graduate program, articulated the unique offerings of each program and established a unifying voice for the College that could be expressed in public-facing communications.

The Marlboro engagement provides an inspiring example of how an inclusive approach can help counter skepticism about the role of marketing within an institution. Working in close collaboration with the College’s senior leadership, the kor group/Libretto team was able to engage the entire College community in creating new language and visuals that presented the school in a compelling and authentic manner.

Additional Video:

Photography and Video: Devlo Media

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