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Ineke Caycedo
VP, Brand Development

The new International Brand Master is a-Walsh in yellow. It’s no typo! Walsh College brand manager John Lichtenberg’s, clever yellow note-pad campaign captured the imaginations of new students, as well as the judges and members of the public who named him the 2010 International Brand Master.

From concept to execution, Walsh’s campaign is a great case study of how the combination of focus, creativity, and unrelenting consistency builds brand recognition, brand buzz, brand equity, and most important, the bottom line.

In its planning and execution, the campaign shows all the hallmarks of someone who has what it takes to be a great brand manager, née, master. It has legs, memorability, humor, and comes loaded with personality. It also has these important traits,  an eye for opportunity and a healthy dose of boldness.  For example, there’s the billboard that boldly announced “Friends don’t let friends study French.”  That actually ended up being a bit too bold and, after protests from French teachers, was taken down (and still, it created…buzz).

Then there are the inspired Walsh Yellow Suits, a more recent addition to the campaign and a definite stepping up of the “buzz” factor. Dressed in Zoot suits reminiscent of lined yellow notepads that are the creative concept driving the print, out-of-home, and TV spots, and these Zoot-clad, briefcase-carrying actor-ambassadors for Walsh catch attention…plenty of it (more buzz).  Their charge, be opportunistic. Get noticed. And so, invited or not (buzz), they show up at events like the famed Detroit international Auto Show and the Detroit Thanksgiving Parade (they got kicked out of that one; more buzz and a YouTube video), Red Wings games, and countless other events and venues.  Yes, they even sing.

And, like every hard-working brand rep these days, the Geico Gecko for instance, the Yellow Suits have an active social media presence.  You can interact with them and find out where they’ll be on Twitter [@yellowsuits] and on facebook. I love that one of their favorite facebook pages is “I love yellow.”  They also post videos of their appearances on YouTube. FYI – it doesn’t hurt to have a popular brand rep group on your team when you’ve been nominated for International Brand Master either!

These equal parts of boldness, creativity, ingenuity, and focused brand messaging have clearly done what the campaign set out to do at this private business-focused college, increase enrollment – 8% in each of the two academic years since the campaign launched.

Congratulations to John for his creativity, marketing ingenuity, and full use of all the rich tactics — traditional, social, and buzz generating — available to marketers today.  He truly exemplifies what it takes to be an International Brand Master.

Thanks again to our judges and to all who voted for John or our runners up Purdue’s Teri Lucy Thompson and Virginia Tech’s Larry Hincker all three very deserving finalists.  Each a great example of what it takes to get your institution to stand out in a very crowded marketplace.

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