Purdue Polytechnic Institute

Digital Marketing

Turning Market Confusion into Clarity with a Single Word

The challenge facing Purdue Polytechnic Institute – a multi-campus affiliate of Purdue University – was market confusion. Very few people know what “polytechnic” means. Prospective students often misunderstand what type of school Purdue Polytechnic is, let alone what sets them apart.

The Obstacle is the Way

We called out the obstacle – the word Polytechnic – in a way that echoed the confusion of the audience, but also blasted a pathway for the Institute to clarify their benefits and defining strengths. Our concept was a self-aware query that provoked engagement:

Rooted in Audience Research

Purdue Polytechnic is where students program driverless cars, design videogames, and build jet engines. Our research revealed that their audiences learn by doing, and are fueled by a quirky sense of curiosity. Using an approach called tactile typography, we illustrated the meaning of the word using the word itself (think about that), but in a way that played to the curious nature of their audiences.

Answering the Question

We hand-crafted each letter in the word Polywhat using concrete objects – circuit boards, drone propellers, aviator sunglasses, wires, and other visual artifacts. Then, we anchored the visual with a tagline that supplied a refreshingly succinct answer: Curious Name, Serious Tech Degrees.

Avoiding Stereotypes

To ensure our approach didn’t backfire into cliched (and potentially alienating) stereotypes, we went the extra mile to vet each object in our title treatment based on input from faculty, staff, and experts from across the Institute.

A Clearer Message

As higher ed demographics continue to skew adult learners and non-traditional students looking to upskill by way of tech degrees, the Polywhat campaign represents a timely moment of self-actualization for the Institute. With this strong storytelling framework, their enrollment marketing efforts saw immediate success, with our campaigns driving 3.5 million impressions, a 29% increase in unique website visitors, and 311 conversions in only three months.

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John M. Belk Endowment

Integrated Marketing