Grinnell College is a top-tier four-year liberal arts college, located in rural Iowa about an hour from Des Moines. Its surprisingly diverse student body draws from 37 states and 39 countries, and the institution’s founding principles endure through the Grinnell Prize for Innovation in Social Justice, the largest monetary award of its kind.
Despite a stellar reputation, Grinnell found itself on the consideration lists of fewer and fewer students, and the school was struggling to get prospects to visit campus. Facing increased competition from more geographically accessible peers, the college could no longer lean on reputation alone. And without a compelling brand story, Grinnell needed to find a way to stand out and stand apart.
Through dozens of interviews, several campus visits, and more research, we helped Grinnell uncover a story of place and mindset. With a culture of fierce inquiry, a tradition of social justice, and an authentically global perspective, Grinnell attracts a truly singular type of student — which we christened the Grinnellian. By exploring the nature of these Grinnellians through their experiences on campus and off, the college’s brand took form: first in a comprehensive suite of recruitment and admissions materials, and then through a multi-platform marketing campaign reaching influencers, peers, and prospects.