Case Study
Northampton College

Case Study

Northampton College: Boosting Applications with Creative Campaigns

Inspiring young people to attend open events and apply for a study programme

Industry: Higher Education

Number of employees: 1000+

#conceptualdesign #branddevelopment #illustration #animation #highereducation

The client

Northampton College is a large general further education college with around 8,500 students and a turnover of over £29M. The College offers a range of full-time and part-time courses for young people and adults, as well as supporting hundreds of apprentices working in local businesses. The College offers its own higher education courses as well as others in partnership with the Universities of Northampton and Warwick. Northampton College has soared in national achievement rankings over the last three years to become the leading FE provider in the region. Data released by the Department for Education shows that the College now ranks 31st in the UK out of more than 200 colleges for 16 to 18-year-old education and training.

The challenge

The College was keen to showcase its success by attracting young people to visit its latest series of open events, held between November 2017 and March 2018, to inspire them to apply for a study programme.

The Marketing team approached PDS with a brief to create a new design concept based on its ‘Start your Story’ theme. The College was already using videos of its new recruits explaining why they had chosen the College and what steps they were taking on their journey towards meaningful careers.

The brief challenged PDS to develop the ‘Start your Story’ theme, placing students and their individual journeys at the centre of the concept.

They were tasked with creating collateral that set apart the open events campaign from the corporate brand style, adopting a more fun and contemporary theme, appropriate for the target audience.

Key challenges

  • The college sought to increase attendance at open events in 2017/2018.

  • PDS was given the challenge of creating an engaging design concept based on a ‘Start your Story’ theme. 

  • A key goal was to place individual student journeys at the centre of the concept.

  • The marketing team wanted to optimise costs and ROI.

The solution

The PDS design studio recommended an illustrative route to complement the existing geometric shapes and mono photography of the corporate brand. With the student as hero, line drawings and a script typeface sketched out the steps the student would take to achieve their career goals.

Illustrations included the College building, a laptop, books, and signposts directing the student towards their next steps including higher education, apprenticeships and employment. The treatment was signed off with the strapline ‘I’ve started my story – now it’s time to start yours’.

The new concept became a live video project for design and media students at the College who were asked to film models in their studio so that PDS could overlay an animated version of the illustrations.

PDS arranged for the final video to be projected onto the exterior walls of the College’s campus buildings on the dates of the open events to inspire visitors to find out more.

Once inside, attendees at the open events were invited to stand within life-size die-cut strut cards, illustrated in the same style, to pose for selfies which they were encouraged to share on social media.

As part of the same campaign, PDS reproduced the concept in a range of formats including 48 sheet billboards, bus street liners, all-weather fence banners, press advertisements and a range of web banners and thumbnails for social media.

The project team

Olivia Ray (Client Services Director), David Nelson (Lead Creative), Emily Syson (Senior Designer), Anna Miller (Designer), Katie Rolfe (Account Executive)

Olivia Ray

Olivia Ray

Client Services Director

David Nelson

David Nelson

Lead Creative

Emily Syson

Emily Syson

Senior Designer

Anna Miller

Anna Miller


Katie Rolfe

Katie Rolfe

Account Executive

Interested in how PDS can help you deliver solutions across our service pillars?

Key outcomes

  • The concept has generated a high level of engagement and offers longevity for long-term cost-savings.

  • Online registrations increased by 17% year-on-year.

  • Registrations for open events were up 2% in Nov 2017 and 39% in March 2018.

  • 71% more visitors attended the event at the Daventry Campus in Jan 2018.

The results

The ‘Start your Story’ concept devised by the design team at PDS delivered a number of benefits and made a significant impact, generating a high level of engagement on social media and helping to drive traffic to the College’s website. The Marketing team was delighted to see 17% more online registrations overall compared with the same period in the previous year.

Registrations for the open events in November 2017 at the College’s Northampton campuses were up by 29%, and those in March 2018 benefited from an uplift of 39%. Significantly more visitors (71%) attended the event at the Daventry campus in January 2018.

The Marketing team was able to save costs on the whole campaign with re-usable collateral including the video and die-cut cards.

The development of the original brand style created a concept with longevity that the College can revisit over the course of its annual recruitment cycle. The new design refreshed the brand and created a great platform for the development of original content based on the ‘Start your Story’ theme.

Finally, the concept enabled budding design and media students to gain access to live work experience within commercial constraints of budget and time.

Looking to increase engagement for your next event?

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