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A university on the rise

Northern Arizona University is a public research university based in Flagstaff, Arizona. With a diverse and growing body of 30,000+ students, a visionary President, and a clear focus on research, innovation and the student learning experience, NAU is a university on the rise. Cooper partnered with Development and Alumni Engagement leaders to tailor the university brand experience to the goals of alumni and donors, and create a fresh approach to engagement.

Diverse perspectives

The consulting team was comprised of a seasoned software engineer, a professional artist, and a former higher education executive. They collaborated with a diverse set of campus executive leaders, including deans and heads of communication, IT, and fundraisers to determine priorities and direction for the university. They also interviewed dozens of alumni around North America to determine their connection to and perceptions of the University. 

Actionable results

The research yielded transformative insights: many alumni who consider themselves “inactive” maintain strong, tangible, but unaccounted for relationships to NAU; recent alumni view the university very similarly to more seasoned alumni; NAU alumni communicate in a uniquely clear and straightforward tone. We also uncovered four themes -- adventure, authenticity, relevance, and care -- that will be used to drive marketing content.

With this research in hand, the team delivered:

  1. 5 personas and a lifetime journey map to guide communications, events, and volunteer strategies 
  2. An alumni-centric Voice, Tone, and Look Guide
  3. A set of 15+ communications templates 
  4. Technology stack recommendations
  5. Organizational recommendations, and
  6. Six concepts, including an online communications hub, a holistic social media strategy, and an integrated approach to career development as an ongoing touchpoint for alumni and students. Each concept was created with phases for incremental implementation.

The outstanding team at NAU are applying these concepts to create stronger relationships with 160,000 NAU alumni. Go Lumberjacks!

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