Briarwood College | Case Study

Briarwood College Poster

Briarwood College was founded in 1966 and had become the choice of students who weren’t academically prepared for a four-year school. Typically, these students would earn an associate’s degree, which afforded them the opportunity to transfer to another institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Today, many students are choosing to enter the workforce after graduating from career schools, bypassing the traditional four-year degree. That’s because careers in growing fields, such as many healthcare disciplines, are available to those possessing a two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Briarwood College is poised to take full advantage of this trend.

Briarwood College offers associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in professionally oriented programs to both graduating high school students and working adults. High school guidance counselors perceived the College as a safety school, even though several of Briarwood’s programs have earned national recognition.

The College wanted to develop an integrated enrollment campaign that would increase attendance at open house events and submission of admission applications—ultimately resulting in a goal of a 5% annual increase in enrollments. At the same time Briarwood wanted to reposition its brand in the minds of key constituents and influencers as a leader in higher education developmental learning.


Bergeron Creative facilitated focus groups with traditional and nontraditional students. Staff and faculty interviews were conducted at every level of the College. We also conducted a brand communications audit of both Briarwood and competitive colleges.

We segmented the marketing program geographically. Locally, we targeted adult students and employers, offering flexible scheduling options. Regionally, we targeted high school students who are not quite prepared for a traditional college experience. Nationally, we targeted students for the Mortuary Science program.

The College was in need of a complete brand makeover that reinforced its positioning as a career-oriented institution. We developed a logo for the College and its athletics program, including a complete visual identity and graphic standards program. Bergeron Creative also introduced a new tagline, “Realize Your Potential.”

Physical Media

Bergeron Creative developed an award-winning print campaign using the theme “I AM BRIARWOOD,” built on the sense of pride students and alumni feel about their association with the College—putting a face on the College. We implemented campaigns across three different admission offices with three distinct target audiences. The direct mail and collateral pieces, as well as college and career fair displays, all centered around student and graduate success stories—punctuating the value and return on investment of their degree programs.

Our media plan included two advertising campaigns, one targeting high school students and the other working adults. We reached high school students with a radio campaign that ran during the summer months, supported by email. The working adult campaign primarily ran in newspapers, with radio and outdoor media support.

Sweatshirt Days replaced open houses and career days. Typically colleges waive the application fee at these events to provide an additional incentive for prospects to apply, instead of waiving this fee, prospects who applied for admission at these events received a Briarwood sweatshirt. The strategy not only increased the number of applications at each event, it had viral marketing impact as well, as these prospects wore the sweatshirts in their respective communities.

Digital Media

Bergeron Creative developed a website designed to dovetail with new brand identity and to support admissions efforts by engaging prospective students, capturing their interest and causing them to spend more time on the website, while giving them reasons to return to the site. These are the two most critical success factors found to increase conversion rates.

We reengineered the website from the ground up, including a streamlined architecture, navigation and content management system (CMS) that allowed for the College to easily publish timely content.

Bergeron Creative utilized email campaigns to promote and increase attendance at open houses and career days, which linked to unique landing pages. The landing pages improved conversion since they provided all the important event information and allowed the visitor to register.

Search Marketing

Bergeron Creative initially used a pay per click (PPC) Adwords program to promote Mortuary Science. Since its audience is national in scope, this was a cost-effective means of reaching prospects. We developed unique landing pages to increase conversion of inquires and applications.

Previously Briarwood was forced to rely only on paid placement for search engine referrals because the site was built entirely on a dynamic flash environment, which does not allow search engine spiders access to a site’s content for indexing and results in poor positioning.

We implemented an organic search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for Briarwood that included the development of a new site architecture including search spider friendly navigation, search phrase rich text links, file naming convention, page content, page titles and meta tags. Our new structure and navigation ensured that search engine spiders were more likely to see and select the College’s pages in search requests.


During the first admissions cycle the integrated program was implemented, Briarwood College experienced a 43% increase in applications for admission, yielding a 7.5% increase in student enrollment—exceeding expectations. This pattern of enrollment growth was sustained for many years as the program evolved until the College was eventually purchased by Lincoln College of Technology.



Al Bergeron is President and Chief Creative Officer at Bergeron Creative Studios, a Boston-area branding firm that integrates interactive, social media and Internet marketing into an engaging force that helps clients win.

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