Columbia College

  • Branding
  • Digital Marketing
  • IT Services
  • Web Development

The Problem

Established in 1936, Columbia College is the oldest private college in Canada. The College was experiencing serious competition because more private colleges have been springing up. Locating to a new campus provided the perfect opportunity for Columbia College to refresh its brand and build a new website for more effective digital marketing.

Our Solution

Despite tight deadlines, Smartt delivered the Brand Strategy Roadmap and launched the new website on time and on budget. Columbia College now has a website that integrates with social media, supports mobile devices, and is easier to update. 

A key finding was that the personalized attention students received from staff and instructors helped them develop life skills, not just earn academic credits. Yet the College was not capitalizing on this benefit in its messaging, so Smartt recommended a “platform for success” message for outreach to three main audiences: prospective students, parents, and current students. Such findings helped define formal messaging and visual brand guidelines for the College.

Smartt then developed a set of requirements for a new website that would appeal to a young demographic and make digital marketing easier for the College. Then Smartt faced an extra challenge: the campus moving schedule. Not only did this create timeline issues, but the college staff members who were normally available to develop and review website content were busy with the move. Fortunately an agile development process and close collaboration with Yetla Hernandez, the College’s project lead, allowed Smartt to work around many of these constraints and deliver a new website within the College’s timeframe.

The Result

Columbia College is the first major private liberal arts college in Vancouver with a responsive website that’s mobile-friendly – a vital feature for its demographics. Content management for the website is easy, new online forms streamline workflow, and the site is well-integrated with social media -- all of which delivers a more effective platform for digital marketing. The website is aligned with the College’s brand and goals, and formal brand guidelines are in place to ensure consistency in all collaterals.

When Hernandez surveyed staff and students about the new website’s functionality and appearance, the results were overwhelmingly positive. “The website looks great,” Hernandez says, “and the back-end is really easy to use. Information can be updated easily and the application forms are working properly. Now we have something to be proud of!”

  • Strong, cohesive brand message and identity
  • Attractive website with high appeal to the target demographic
  • Efficient workflow and content management