Lighting the Way for Bright Young Minds
Where can profoundly gifted young people fit in? Who can provide specific resources? Where can they find scholarship and community service opportunities? The answer for all three is the same: the Davidson Institute.
Doing our homework
The Davidson Institute focuses on cultivating a holistic, transformative experience for profoundly gifted youth and their families through programs, resources, scholarships, and opportunities to thrive within a community. Profoundly gifted youth–as we discovered–are those who score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests. These are some of the most intelligent young people in the world! When we dug in we found that without organizations like the Davidson Institute, many of these kids would be misunderstood and left behind.
Our challenge was to help the Davidson Institute find its strategic north star and reimagine its brand and outreach efforts to better connect with families and educators.
Since 2020, we have worked with the Davidson Institute to reshape its brand, determine the best strategic position, and punch up its marketing efforts to raise awareness within a very niche audience.
Hit the books
We held multiple listening and learning sessions with staff, parents, students and educators so we could soak up as much information as possible about the Davidson Institute. What made it special? What was working? Where could improvements be made? How were families finding them? What was their internal culture like?
With each question, we were able to uncover valuable insights and perspectives. We didn’t stop there. We researched the educational system, conducted an in-depth competitive analysis and audited the Davidson Institute’s current marketing and communications efforts. Each finding informed our overall strategic approach and that has set the foundation for the work we would do from that point on.
Establish deep connections
During our research phase, we recognized positioning and content pillars as the biggest opportunity for solidifying the Davidson Institute’s brand and connecting with its audiences. We uncovered that although the Davidson Institute serves a niche audience with incredible academic abilities, that didn’t mean that the organization was elite or exclusive. It isn’t about legacy or prestige; instead, it strives to provide a welcoming community for like-minded students to thrive.
What’s more is that only one entity within the Davidson Institute provides education, but many people confuse the entire organization for being the school itself. We really had to sharpen our pencils to articulate the holistic nature of the support and resources the Davidson Institute provides. The Institute needed to feel more approachable and needed to better define the life-changing value they bring to families.
We reworked every aspect of the brand from the highest level of its mission and vision to base descriptions for each program within the Institute. We worked hand-in-hand with the Davidson Institute team to develop a brand that better captures the meaningful work they were doing and continue to do. The result was a soup-to-nuts rebrand that brought the Davidson Institute’s inclusive environment to the forefront—for staff, parents, and gifted young people alike.
From pen to paper to pixels
Once we established the brand direction it was time to build the visual identity and unveil the new messaging. A new logo, color palette, website and collateral materials were all needed to thoughtfully present the brand to the world.
Our audience is young, but mature. The graphic elements that make up the brand embrace their energy and youth, but respect that level of maturity. It’s a balance that is carried throughout the design. These elements work together to create a visually dynamic brand that matches the unique vision and reputation of the Davidson Institute.
Thought and intentionality guided our approach for rolling out the brand. A comprehensive brand guide—bound and printed—helped solidify the new direction for the Davidson Institute to help them maintain the brand and use it to onboard anyone new to the Davidson Institute team.
We also designed and developed a new website that not only presented the new brand, but also guided people to find the resources they were looking for or didn’t yet know they needed. The same insights that came from our research phase were used to inform the website’s information architecture, content structure and visitor journeys through the site.
Brains and brawn
Not to brag (okay, maybe just a little), data is where we flex. With a strategic foundation, identified audiences and a powerful brand, we could now work on our outbound marketing. First, we conducted a comprehensive audit of the Davidson Institute's digital presence, which led to the development of new plans for paid search, paid social and SEO, as well as recommendations for its Google Analytics events, goals and tracking setup.
Next, we planned and executed:
- Targeted paid search campaigns allowed the Davidson Institute to hone in on capturing the minds and hearts of those looking specifically for support and resources in the gifted space.
- Paid social ads were used to effectively raise awareness, including Facebook ads that enabled us to target by personal, professional, and demographic information versus intent—ideal for a niche audience.
- We identified target keywords, and prioritized pages and content for optimization in order to boost the Davidson Institutes search rankings in the space as it would relate to offerings or resource topics of authority.
While the bulk of our initial work was done in 2020, we never set it and forget it. Our partnership with the Davidson Institute led to doing similar work for the Davidson Academy and the Davidson Academy Online. We continue to uncover new insights, develop materials, and craft messaging.
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Research leads to reimagination
A brand project with a full-blown research portion? We love that journey for us (and our clients). There were three focus groups with Davidson Institute staff and students’ parents to better understand the nuances and value it provided. We audited their current brand, marketing efforts, digital footprint, and their position among competitors.
Built on belonging
While many leading institutes or academies focus on exclusivity, the Davidson Institute wanted to make families and profoundly gifted youth feel like they belonged. The brand was built to connect with our mature audience of bright young minds as well as their families and educators.
Pencils meet pixels
Our research and brand were leveraged to develop a website that felt welcoming, was easy to navigate, and ultimately led parents to the information they wanted—or didn’t even know they needed.