Eastern Michigan University | Digital Marketing Agency | Hunch Free

Eastern Michigan University
Solving A College's Identity Crisis

The Challenge

The College of Health & Human Services at Eastern Michigan University (EMU:CHHS) is a cutting edge higher educational institution that provides students with an education and training in modern health and human service fields like social work, occupational therapy, nursing, etc.

EMU has long been recognized as a premiere college for students looking to enter into the education sector. Because of the university's perception as an institution for educators, EMU was usually not the primary choice for students who were looking to go into healthcare or human service related fields despite the fact that they have cutting edge facilities and technology, industry leading program curricula, and a top notch team of faculty and staff members.

The leadership at EMU:CHHS believed that having a social media presences would be able to solve this issue and invited us to their office to talk this idea over.

The Solution

We met with the awesome leadership team at EMU:CHHS and listened to the issues that they were facing. After a few hours, it became clear that EMU:CHHS needed a fresh look into their brand and messaging strategy far more than they needed a social media campaign. They had a million amazing things constantly happening on campus but were not sure how they should be communicated. We regrouped back at Hunchie HQ and kicked off an intensive month long brand identity and messaging strategy campaign.

Data Deep Dive

After meeting with EMU:CHHS and identifying their identity crisis, we gathered all of their historical branded marketing collateral, plastered it all over the walls of one of our war rooms and immersed ourselves into "what has already been done".

Working out of EMU:CHHS's dedicated war room, we also took the time to map out a business model canvas and performed some intensive competitive brand research.

Hard at work in the War Room

Executive Workshop

One thing we identified very early in our data immersion phase was that EMU:CHHS never talked about their purpose for existing as an institution. They were very good at telling prospective students what they do, but they never explained the deeper message of why they do what they do. Upon discovering this, we setup and led EMU:CHHS's executive leadership team through a workshop designed to draw out why they feel the institution exists.

We came out of that workshop with some great data. We had several statements from different leaders within the College of Health & Human Services that identified what the college does, how they provide a better education, and even a few different ideas as to why EMU:CHHS exists (their purpose). The next step was to validate which (if any) of these statements were correct and resonated with their actual audience.

Consumer Insight Discussions

Armed with the data we uncovered from the executive workshop. We conducted numerous consumer insight discussions using the Jobs To Be Done method. These discussion's weren't like your typical "focus group". We had intensive, one-on-one, recorded conversations with alumni, current students, students who chose another institution, students who were looking for a college, etc. The conversations were designed to dig deep and identify what triggered their career path decision and what led them to their first encounter with EMU. We were able to successfully uncover specific events that motivated each person and directly influenced their decision to pursue a certain career path and choose a school.

We took the consumer insight surveys data, mapped it out, and cross referenced it against the data we uncovered from the executive workshop. The result was shocking. We identified a common internal motivator trend that was clearly identifiable in 100% of the participants (EMU:CHHS leadership included). We had a clear cut path for The College of Health & Human Services' brand identity and messaging strategy. Both parties, students and college staff alike, have a shared motivation for helping other people and working alongside other likeminded people make a positive impact on other people's lives. It may seem like such an obvious conclusion, however none of EMU:CHHS's communication materials spoke to this.

I most certainly would recommend Hunch Free to anyone who is looking for a team to help them develop their social media and marketing presence. At Eastern Michigan University, Hunch Free has done an exceptional job promoting our services, events, activities, and programs, which has lead to a tremendous measurable success.

If you’re looking for someone who is creative and generates marketing buzz, and who is able to provide results so you can actually see the progress you're making, then I would definitely recommend Hunch Free.

Theodore G. Coutilish, Associate Vice President

Eastern Michigan University


The shared internal motivators found in staff and students alike is the foundations of a messaging strategy that will resonate deeper than any message about a new accreditation, facility upgrade, or classroom size could ever hope.

Using this shared motivator, our team created new mission and vision statements that revolved around helping other people and making a positive impact on humanity. We also developed the new tagline for the college: "Working Together. Improving Lives." We didn't need to be cheeky, witty or clever with the tagline; those four simple words perfectly communicates and connects why the college exists and resonates with the student's motivation for study.

We compiled our research, statements, tag line, logo variations, and style guide together and presented our findings. We even provided them with a guide and training on how to develop content using this newly developed messaging strategy. The tone of this new strategy is now established and evident across their website, social media, email, and traditional marketing content.

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