Out With the Steam Engine!

Out with the Steam Engine!

What We Did
  • Brand Strategy
  • Visual Identity
  • UX/UI Design
  • Content Strategy
  • Website Development
  • Enrollment Marketing
  • Brand Positioning & Naming
  • Reputation Marketing

Stevens Institute of Technology was one of those best kept secrets. Among the country’s oldest technological universities, it was renowned for engineering and innovation — in the 20th century. In 2022, the fact that the steam engine and bubble wrap were invented here failed to impress, and Stevens’ old-school self-presentation said nothing about what the school is today. 

Overhauling a Venerable Brand

In reality, Stevens today is a formidable research and teaching institution with strengths in key emerging technologies and a formidable innovation pipeline. It’s small in scale compared to an MIT or Stanford — and that intimacy, along with a culture that’s grounded in humility, tenacity, and a focus on solving real-people problems, makes studying at Stevens uniquely meaningful.

“Inspired by Humanity, Powered by Technology.”

The simple truth that our qualitative research and brand development revealed — that Stevens is “Inspired by Humanity, Powered by Technology” — guided our teams as we developed new systems and assets for the institute.

History Meets the Future

An updated visual identity reflecting the marriage of humanity and technology needed to celebrate the future while honoring the school’s past. Our work focused on an original, iconic campus structure named for the school’s founder, which had been the basis of Stevens’ previous identity. 

It was so gratifying to get to work closely with the client team and reimagine their visual brand. I was particularly excited about the process of evolving their old logo into something more iconic and striking. Together, we created an elegant, flexible system that nods to the past, but will bring them seamlessly into the future.

Ben Young, Senior Experience Designer

A Tech-Forward and Future proof Website

As we began to apply the new branding to a new website for the Institute, Stevens voiced their preference for a “headless” content management system — a future-forward engineering choice that separates the content layer from the “presentation layer” users see. While this next-generation platform would require extensive custom coding, it positions Stevens for future extensions and evolutions. The new headless site is lightning fast, secure, and ready to drive apps, digital marketing channels and campus-wide content needs.

A headless React application, served from a statically built site based on the Contentful platform, was the right move, and challenged us to leverage bleeding-edge technology without losing sight of enterprise institutional content management needs. As a benefit to this technical strategy, the site is particularly fast and even more secure than a typical CMS

Sam Thompson, Director of Technology

Focused and Trim

Meanwhile our new site architecture and content strategy helped to focus the Stevens story of purposeful innovation by streamlining content and introducing specially designed components that convey the dynamism of the academic experience.  The result was positive.

And Effective…

Personal and Personalized Marketing

Stevens asked us to apply the clarified brand and new visual identity to a variety of enrollment marketing and recruitment assets, including print viewbooks and an ad campaign. We started by creating undergraduate and graduate viewbook experiences, using the design flexibility of print to shape engaging and audience-centric viewbooks that reflect both the school’s dynamism and its “human” culture.

The Undergraduate Viewbook

Research tells us that today’s students don’t want to read a lot in print materials; they want to get a feel for the institution. So we used the design flexibility of print to shape an engaging viewbook that reflects the dynamism of Stevens. Light on content, it uses QR codes to link prospectives to deeper online information — and gives the admissions team the power to measure student engagement and journeys.

We wanted to pivot away from an institutional voice and use student voices to help our audience connect. But the testimonials you typically see in higher ed marketing materials sound mediated and manicured—not real, so we spent time interviewing current students and extracted their real words.

The Graduate Viewbook

Most prospective grad students know what they’re looking for and want to get straight to the meat of it. So we developed a modular viewbook approach: A master folder and topic– or program–specific booklets. The admissions team can fill the folder with selected components relevant to a particular student.

The Ad Campaign

The Stevens graduate team asked us to develop a campaign that spanned digital, print and outdoor advertising. The campaign emphasized Stevens’ no-bro innovation culture as well as its exceptional outcomes.

“I want the World to Know Who Stevens Really Is”

Updating and applying the brand was one thing. The school’s President Nariman wanted to get the word out to peers across the higher education landscape about who Stevens is today.

The result: a reputation marketing campaign that is a pure distillation of Stevens’ updated brand — leading in innovation with a culture that’s grounded in humility, tenacity, and a focus on solving real-people problems.