Increasing out-of-state student applications

At Blue State, I led design on a campaign for Stony Brook University to increase their out-of-state student applications. My team tested and optimized a series of digital ads across a number of platforms including Snapchat, Instagram, and news websites. 



Stony Brook University

Blue State

About the Project

My team started the project by conducting a visual audit of Stony Brook’s current content and branding. Through observing their current digital assets, it became clear that Stony Brook was positioning itself first and foremost as a commuter school, and thus my team’s hypothesis was that their existing framing might be alienating potential out-of-state applicants. We felt it was important to spotlight all of the reasons why a student living outside of New York might seek out Stony Brook. 

We identified four central reasons for an out-of-state college student to apply to Stony Brook: (1) ability to participate in hands-on research as a freshman,(2) proximity to the beach, (3) an under 2 hr commute to NYC, and most importantly, (4) access to the myriad of internship and career opportunities that the largest city in the US can provide.

From there, I designed ads that not only highlighted the narrative content identified in our user research but also tested for the appeal of specific design mechanisms. Different designs worked for different platforms. In our NYT banners, our ads highlight research opportunities that performed best. On Snapchat, we found success with the photo-centric visual motifs. Our ad that used a polaroid template to frame images tested best with students and the implementation of this ad tracked directly to 800 unique sign-ups in a span of two weeks and surpassed our initial projections.
Design A: Winner!

The design that framed images of campus and NYC in polaroid pictures led more prospective students to sign-up for a virtual tour of the school.

Design B: Lost

The design that used cut out images and filled the entire screen gained less traction with prospective students. 

Style Guide

I also designed an extensive Style Guide for the marketing team at Stony Brook.