Truman hires marketing firm to revamp image

SME will work with Truman State University to revamp its image, branding and identity.

SME Branding is a marketing consulting firm which specializes in sports, entertainment and higher education.
University President Sue Thomas said universities across the United States have become more competitive in recruiting students, so marketing has become especially important. She said the current Truman brand is about 8 years old, so it is about time for a change.

“Truman is a wonderful institution that does lots of great things,” Thomas said. “We haven’t had a real focus on marketing before, and in this kind of really highly competitive environment, I think it puts us at a significant disadvantage to not let the world know who Truman is.”

After recent work with the Atlanta Braves, the Kentucky Derby and universities across the nation, SME was chosen from 14 companies to work with Truman on a new brand.

In an email statement, Dave Rector, vice president for administration, finance and planning, said the contract with SME cost the University $294,500, $150,000 of which is covered by a donation to the Truman State University Foundation specifically for this project. He said he anticipated the expense when planning the budget this year.

Keaton Wagner was recently hired as the new marketing coordinator and will be working closely with SME Branding. A rebrand is a marketing strategy that aims to change how the target market receives a company. These new strategies might include updating logos and messages, among others.

“Your brand is the academic adviser you talk to on the phone,” Wagner said. It’s your interactions with your professor, your first time on campus. It’s every interaction or thought you have about the institution.”

After visiting the campus and conducting phone interviews with on- and off-campus leadership earlier this semester, SME will return to campus March 4 to survey several focus groups. Current students, staff and locals will make up the 14 focus groups. SME will then interpret all of the data gathered to get a comprehensive look at how different groups perceive the Truman brand, both within Kirksville and beyond.

Truman will work closely with SME and SEM Works, Truman’s enrollment management consultant, to make changes based on the data. The three will work together to put together different options for logos, messages and other design elements to be completed by the end of the summer.