CMU Tepper School of Business

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From Our Client

We hired Digital Pulp to reposition our brand and launch a new enrollment marketing campaign. Thanks to their deep understanding of our industry, we introduced a new brand positioning that has blossomed with support from the school and beyond. We now have a rallying cry for our broad community and a powerful strategy by which to differentiate Tepper in a highly competitive marketplace.
After the campaign launch, our traffic increased 60% and our leads more than doubled.
Digital Pulp is 100% the best strategic and creative investment I have ever made in my higher-ed career – which is why I’ve had the good fortune to hire them twice. So far!

 - Lynda Oliver, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

The Challenge

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented solutions.


Eight months into a global pandemic that was crushing higher ed enrollment and putting pressure on Admissions teams everywhere, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business welcomed a new dean.


At the best of times, new leadership is an opportunity for reinvigorated brand messaging, but Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou faced a singular challenge of reversing a depressed enrollment in an uncertain environment.


The ask: Create a campaign targeting prospective MBA students.


The Problem: Brand


Tepper enjoyed a positive reputation, but it lagged in perception behind “thought leaders” like Harvard and MIT Sloan. That’s because Tepper was seen as a “business school for engineers.”


We realized Tepper didn’t have an enrollment issue as much as it had a brand issue.


Being part of Carnegie Mellon had its pros — as a brand, CMU is much better known than the Tepper School. But Tepper was also suffering from its association with a university that is best known for its engineering and tech prowess. 


Tepper needed to make a case for a data-focused, tech-strong business education.


The fact is, the business world is undergoing massive change driven by data. Tepper, as a pioneer of “management science,” with all the resources of a tech university is in a unique position to prepare professionals to succeed in the business landscape of the future.

The Solution

With Dean Bajeux-Besnainou’s blessing, the Digital Pulp team began to investigate the possibilities for a refreshed brand identity. The end goal was still to increase enrollment, but we had to get the foundation right first.


We started with an exhaustive research phase that included an in-depth competitive review and an immersion in the school’s existing branding and engagement materials. We also conducted dozens of interviews with stakeholders: faculty and staff, students representing full-time and online programs, and of course leadership.


“For me being new here,” said Dean Bajeux-Besnainou, “it was an amazing opportunity to understand the school in a deeper way. So it was very beneficial.”


The Brand: Data – and More


By the end of our exploration, our conclusion was clear: while other business schools are adding data analytics components to the curriculum, Carnegie Mellon’s approach joins this with personalized leadership coaching that emphasizes empathy and team communication skills. 


No other institution has the knowledge environment of Carnegie Mellon University to marry data intelligence and human intelligence in the same way. This combination of a data foundation with leadership soft skills has a profound impact not only on the future of its graduates but on the very nature of business in the 21st century.


It came down to a simple equation:


Data intelligence + human intelligence = The Intelligent Future.


“The Intelligent Future”


This brand positioning combines an emphasis on analytics, interdisciplinary learning, and the importance of human judgment in decision making. It also communicates that Tepper is looking toward the future and embracing change.


This simple but radical idea wouldn’t work if we didn’t have the buy-in of alumni, so we included them in the review process to make sure they felt the positioning was, in the dean’s words, “believable, bold and consistent.” 


The alumni response was immediate and positive. Most importantly, billionaire David Tepper, the school’s namesake and benefactor, gave it a thumbs up.


With the brand positioning approved, we began to create marketing assets for an enrollment campaign that would take the positioning to the market for the first time. We started with a banner campaign and a tune up of key content on the Tepper website to align with the new brand. Finally, we created a video that could be used across platforms to marry emotion and fact, and deliver The Intelligent Future message in a package most readily consumed by Gen-Z web users.

The Result

Upon its launch, Tepper’s traffic increased 60% and prospective student leads more than doubled. With this success, we’ll begin the next phase of infusing The Intelligent Future into all aspects of Tepper’s marketing ecosystem.


“This was one of my highest priorities and it reflects what we want to be known for in the market. We are very happy where it landed.”

--Dean Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou

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