University Marketing Communications

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the university rebranding itself?

One year ago, the university hired an outside marketing consultancy specializing in higher education, Simpson Scarborough, to help us assess how we can meet the university's goals for the future. That consultancy conducted an audit of the university's marketing communications and made several observations and recommendations. One of those was to conduct a formal research study to gauge the health of our brand.

As part of this study, 1,487 surveys were conducted among four stakeholder groups: students, prospective students, alumni, and faculty/staff. That firm also conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 20 prospective students, 20 alumni, 20 business and community leaders, and 20 high school counselors. In addition, the researchers participated in focus groups with student leaders and with a speech communications class.

The research ultimately showed, that while the overall perception of SFA was generally high among those who know us, there was little understanding of our offerings, versus those of our competitors. This was particularly true among future prospective students. This lack of awareness and familiarity with our university and its programs was seen a significant impediment reaching our goals:

  • Increase positive statewide perceptions
  • Recruit and retain high-caliber students
  • Recruit and retain high-caliber faculty
  • Increase pride in the institution

As a result, the marketing consultancy advised SFA to hire an advertising agency, to increase our marketing budget, and to put forth an advertising campaign to better brand the university.

When and where will this campaign launch?

The university branding campaign launched on March 31, 2014. The campaign will run in Dallas, Houston and across East Texas in markets such as Athens, Kilgore, Lufkin, Nacogdoches and Tyler.

There will be 26 billboards across the state for a period of three months, as well as signage in malls, streaming radio commercials and a robust online campaign appearing on desktop, mobile and tablet devices.  Ads are featured in the April issue of "Texas Monthly" magazine, and a feature story appears in the spring issue of the university's Alumni publication, Sawdust.

What are the goals of this branding initiative?

There are several goals we are working toward. Here are a few of our objectives that we believe can be directly impacted by marketing:

  • Increase positive state-wide perceptions of the university
  • Recruit and retain high-caliber students and faculty
  • Increase internal pride in the institution

How will you measure its success?

In the immediate time frame, we will look at a variety of metrics, such as website visits and inquiries to our admissions office. In the longer term, we may revisit the idea of a brand study similar to the one originally conducted to gauge soft measures such as brand perception, awareness and familiarity.

What is the thinking behind the branding campaign itself?

The university's new branding campaign is called "Lumberjacks Make Great…" Each advertisement is proudly purple and highlights a different profession that students are able to pursue at SFA. The campaign was created to promote both the university's well known and lesser-known areas of study to prospective students and the strength of SFA graduates to potential employers.

The brand perception and awareness study commissioned by the university showed that our prospective students have very low awareness and familiarity of our academic offerings. The research also showed that when deciding upon a university, students heavily weigh the variety of study areas available, and that many do not know their intended major or ultimate desired profession. Further, in today's economic climate, families are looking more closely at the return on investment delivered by a college degree. We also learned from the research that there were opportunities to improve perceptions with our alumni, and employers' perceptions of our graduates as they compete to obtain jobs.

We believe that the "Lumberjacks Make Great…" campaign – with repeated exposure over time – will work toward achieving the university's objectives, and ultimately make an SFA diploma more valuable in the eyes of our students and alumni, and the employers who hire them.

How much does something like this cost?

The overall marketing campaign budget is $1.25 million, with a vast majority of the budget going toward the purchase of media for SFA's branding campaign, including:

  • 26 billboards (three-month placement) with rotating messages each month in Houston, Dallas and East Texas (Athens, Huntington, Kilgore, Lufkin, Marshall, Nacogdoches and Tyler)
  • Mall signage in Willowbend (Dallas), Willowbrook (Houston), Lufkin Mall and Broadway Square (Tyler)
  • 15 million impressions (16 weeks) of online banner ads (optimized for mobile devices, desktop and tablet)
  • 375,000 impressions (16 weeks) through banner ads on the Texas Tribune website
  • Pandora streaming radio – 2.5 million impressions (16 weeks) through 30-second online radio commercials with banner ads
  • Five ads in the April issue of Texas Monthly magazine            

For further questions, please contact Shirley Luna at