Striving for meaningful connections

Category:  News
Wednesday, September 19th, 2018 at 5:28 PM

“For Those Who Strive.” 

It’s the latest tagline attached to Edinboro University, four words meant to assist in the recruitment of potential students and the inspiration of those currently chasing a degree.

The goal of this change, according to Angela Burrows, assistant vice president for marketing and communications, is to “ensure that our narrative going forward will better reflect who we are as an institution in a consistent tone and voice.” 

To accomplish this mission, Edinboro enlisted the help of Pittsburgh-based brand strategy firm BD&E, which spent several months last spring interviewing members of the campus community — faculty, staff and students — and immersing themselves in the Edinboro culture, according to Burrows. Through this extensive research, they learned about the goals and ambitions of those they interviewed.

BD&E were able to summarize their findings: “Edinboro = a call to something higher. To get there requires passion, perseverance and grit – a willingness to strive.”

Hence, “For Those Who Strive” was born.

This ushered in the next phase of the plan: The execution. 

Edinboro has already begun running new digital ads designed for specific programs, with television, radio and outdoor ad campaigns in the works; all of which are done with the end goal of more accurately reflecting Edinboro values, explained Burrows. In addition, they are now in the process of redoing their student-recruitment materials. 

All these changes come with a purpose: the competition is steep.

In addition to Edinboro, Erie County has plenty of options for students, including Penn State Behrend and their cheers of “We Are…Penn State,” Mercyhurst University with the age-old saying, “Carpe Diem,” or “Seize the Day,” and Gannon University, where they “Believe in the Possibilities.” So, what will make Edinboro’s campaign shine above all the rest?

According to Burrows, she thinks their newest strategy will resonate with all types of students, especially those with a desire to learn: “Regardless of their starting point, students with persistence, perseverance and grit thrive here.”

Not the first tagline

When the school began in the 1850s, Pennsylvania was facing a shortage of well-qualified teachers in their schools. Therefore, what would become Edinboro University started as Northwestern State Normal School, dedicated for the purpose of educating students to become teachers.

This changed in 1960, when expansion, both of the campus and the curriculum, transformed the normal school into Edinboro State College, where more than just education majors could attend; this growth was made even more viable when, in 1972, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (or PASSHE) was formed, allowing Edinboro to become a university. 

Fast forward to 2000 where, under the leadership of President Frank G. Pogue, the university rebranded themselves under the theme of, “Edinboro Family.” This rebranding was meant to emphasize that the entire Edinboro community was one big family, a “community of learners” connecting in more ways than one. In their marketing toward potential students, their plea read in part: “Please consider joining the Edinboro Family…who are proud to call Edinboro University their alma mater, their home.”

This was again changed under former university president Jeremy D. Brown when he introduced the theme of “Great Things Happen Here.” The emphasis in this campaign, of course, was the results and accomplishments of the Edinboro campus in school and beyond, citing student experiences in the job market and at internships. An excerpt of their message read: “Global preparation. Successful outcomes. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Great Things Happen Here.”

A comprehensive effort

So, since strategies have changed over the years, what makes their current one different from past marketing campaigns?

Burrows explained: “Although we have had taglines in the past…there has not been a comprehensive effort to get to the core of our institutional essence and then reflect that back to our own community and the broader world.”

Time will tell how effective this new strategy will be, but Burrows is hopeful: “Anytime you put an authentic message into the marketplace, it will resonate with folks for whom it is a fit. We believe that the message and campaign will be well received by those students who see themselves reflected in the narrative, those who are ‘strivers.’” 

Nathan Brennan can be reached at

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