New marketing tactics and a fresh new look aim to give Salt Lake Community College an edge in the growing higher-education market.

The school recently launched a new advertising campaign, centered around the philosophy that SLCC is "the place to go no matter where you're at in life," said Alison McFarlane, director of institutional marketing at SLCC. "It speaks to our many, many audiences."

Line drawings, a renewed prominence of school colors and various students illustrated in multiple situations and circumstances are meant to project SLCC's nontraditional students in many different lights as well as inspire creativity in them, said Dave Newbold, executive creative director at local advertising firm Richter7.

"We want people to think that Salt Lake Community College is the first step to getting to where they want to go in life," he said, adding that the new look projects motion and movement, "students stepping out and moving ahead."

Survey and marketing research performed earlier this year showed that the majority of the student body holds a "fantastically high image of the school," Newbold said, adding that students see SLCC as "a real school with amazing facilities," which are ideals often overlooked at the sprawling community college.

The images, which include 75 to 100 different heavy-sketched drawings, are meant to be different than the "very me-too, mundane" photographs of students projected by many other colleges and universities, Newbold said.

"We think our drawings provide an image of 'Hey, these guys are different,'" Newbold said. The unusual graphic approach allowed the firm some flexibility to delve into various lifestyles and diversify the collection of marketing tools.

McFarlane said the images are appearing on all kinds of materials, from billboards alongside the freeway to the course catalog and recruitment materials, as well as in student planners and pamphlets campuswide.

"We're working on integrating it into the whole college," she said. Eventually, the images may end up on T-shirts and other college memorabilia. So far, students have had a positive reaction to the new look.

"The 'Step Ahead' theme speaks to the institution as a whole," McFarlane said. "No matter where you are in your life's process, Salt Lake Community College can address that need."

Getting a new look, Newbold said, is a good way to steer the school away from popular public opinion that the community college is a "last-resort option for education." The new campaign is in its early stages and will grow and develop over the contracted period, and even beyond if it proves successful in giving the campus a new look and feel as well as increases enrollment, he said.


E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com