Shepherd’s New Motto: “When a Ram Charges”

Students are surprised by the announcement of Shepherd University’s new marketing strategy, in part because they didn’t know one ever existed.
Recently, Shepherd University’s admissions office unveiled its newest admissions marketing and communications campaign. For those who are unaware, the former advertisements for Shepherd utilized the slogan “Unexpected.” This tagline, along with its subsequent advertising, was created by the marketing firm Creosote Affects in 2006 and was derived from a campus and community-wide dialogue. “Unexpected” was intended to embody the idea that great things can come from where they are least expected.
Last spring, Shepherd turned once again to Creosote Affects for a marketing overhaul. The final product: “When a ram charges.” According to Kimberly Scranage, vice president of enrollment management, “When a ram charges” is the product of data gathering, research, analysis and community discourse in the form of an online questionnaire completed by more than 4,000 students and 750 employees of the university.
“The new campaign [and slogan] compliments Shepherd’s status and represents its vision statement: to be a nationally respected community of learners where passion, purpose, and experience unite to inspire,” Scranage said regarding the new campaign.
Dr. Robert Warburton, professor of biology and assistant dean of teaching and learning, participated in the development of the visual media aspect of the new marketing campaign by providing an off-the-cuff view of his philosophy with respect to student success.
When asked to comment on the new campaign, Warburton said, “We live in a time when the number of students heading to college is decreasing, especially in West Virginia. In order to remain in the minds of students in the four-state area and beyond, we must keep looking for fresh and innovative, and accessible means of doing so.”
A sampling of students enrolled at Shepherd are evenly split on their feelings about the different slogans. Out of six students asked to state their preference, three said they preferred “When a ram charges,” while the other three preferred the former tagline.
Those who preferred the new tagline agreed with Scranage that it embodies the campus mentality of passion, conviction, and academic drive. Those who preferred the old motto, feel like it is truly applicable to not just the university but the greater Shepherdstown community as a whole.
Dustin Currence, a freshman political science major from Elkins, W.Va. said, “I think the unexpected slogan fits so well. Even though I had never heard it, I think about that kind of thing every day; I am always surprised when I walk through town or see what is happening on campus.”
What is truly unexpected, however, is how few students actually knew about Shepherd’s advertising campaign. Out of 10 students asked, zero students were aware Shepherd has a slogan, let alone an entire marketing campaign that includes billboards, radio, and print.
This begs the question: how do people hear about Shepherd and why do they choose to come here?
“I knew about Shepherd because my sister went here. I chose to come here because I felt most accepted here as a non-traditional student and Shepherd has a very good elementary education program,” explained Cara Jeffries, a senior education major.
Another senior education major, Allison Masser, said, “I knew about Shepherd because it is only 30 minutes away. I chose it because out of the three schools I looked at, Shepherd was the best option. Even though Frostburg was a little cheaper, Shepherd’s education program is much better.”
Matthew Fox, a freshman from Buckhannon, W.Va, said, “I came here three years ago with my step-brother. He didn’t like the school but I fell in love with the town and campus. I talked to some people and gathered a good bit of information on the poli-sci department, so I already knew it was good.”
The common thread among the students interviewed and their experiences in choosing Shepherd is that none of them had been exposed to any direct form of marketing. They all heard about Shepherd University through word-of-mouth or a personal exchange, and they all discovered a campus and community that they could envision themselves in.

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