Positioning a Scientific Powerhouse in the Evolving Higher Education Landscape
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is one of the world’s leading institutions in science and engineering. It repeatedly ranks #1 on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and is recognized among higher education institutions to be without peer. Caltech’s role in major scientific advancements and its accumulation of Nobel prizes, National Medal of Science and National Academy of Sciences awards defy its small size. Yet the general level of public recognition for Caltech and the value it creates was nearly nonexistent. In the competitive, rapidly evolving higher education landscape, leaders recognized the need to build greater awareness and appreciation for Caltech’s seismic impact on the world at large. Marshall Strategy was asked to develop a positioning platform that would amplify Caltech’s voice and improve its recognition and influence while maintaining the Institute’s academic stature and scientific integrity.
Research revealed that many in the Caltech community believed the school’s scientific output convinced that its work should speak for itself. We facilitated a collaborative process to help the community appreciate that amplifying Caltech’s voice was not a superficial exercise, but rather one that was required to further the Institute’s mission. We identified several meaningful differentiators and key themes that all focused on Caltech’s consistently bold ideas and unparalleled impact. In combination, these themes tell a powerful Caltech story, encapsulated within the statement:
Caltech pursues audacious science and engineering that transforms our world.
We demonstrated how this idea differentiates Caltech in a way that is compelling and relevant, internally and externally. From this foundation we developed a messaging framework and a toolkit to enable communicators to reinforcing the strategic positioning while connecting with diverse audiences.
Marshall partnered closely with design firm Dinetz Design and content marketing agency Tendo Communications, to develop a visual identity and an execution plan that supported the positioning strategy. With enthusiastic support from the President, Provost and Division leadership, Caltech’s Marketing & Communications team began implementing the positioning and messaging framework across the Institute. Equipped with a powerful and differentiating story and a renewed enthusiasm for telling it, Caltech launched its new identity to widespread acceptance and greater public understanding.