CMC Begins Rebranding Process

Claremont McKenna College has hired the Cohl Group, a consulting firm, to guide CMC's Office of Public Affairs and Communications in updating its marketing and communications materials. Representatives from the public affairs office and the firm held a series of survey and questionnaire sessions this week with CMC students to get their perspectives on CMC’s culture and image. 

"We will assess the strengths and weaknesses of our current marketing messages to a variety of audiences (e.g., media, opinion leaders, prospective student families, alumni, etc.) and develop a strategic framework and operating principles that we can use going forward," wrote Max Benavidez, associate vice president for public affairs and communications at CMC, in an email to potential participants. 

According to the email, the Cohl Group was looking to interview students, faculty members, administrators, trustees, and parents. Representatives from the group also planned to attend classes and events. 

“We're undertaking this initial research phase because in today's environment every successful organization—whether nonprofit or profit—is continuously reviewing its communications and marketing strategy,” Benavidez wrote in an email to TSL. 

The public affairs office invited groups of students including international students, top academic students, students coming from the East Coast, student-athletes, and recipients of financial aid, according to Benavidez. 

“The College's goal is to obtain the widest possible range of student voices so we reached out to a sampling of over 100 students,” he wrote.

The results of the sessions will be presented by the Cohl Group at an all-day summit on May 1 that will be attended by key CMC stakeholders. The Office of Public Affairs and Communications is currently developing a list of attendees for the event. Benavidez did not say whether the results will be made public.

Sophomore Class President Ben Turner CM '16 was not aware that the sessions were happening, but hopes that the student sample portrays the diversity he sees within CMC.

“You can’t identify one common certain trait identifiable in each CMCer,” he said. “One of the beautiful things about CMC is that it attracts a bunch of different types of people that might not necessarily come together in one sample size.”

Turner discussed the lack of student knowledge of the rebranding sessions. He said that while it would be beneficial if the sessions were more visible, publicity was ultimately unnecessary.

“These types of processes are at the discretion of whomever’s job it is to understand which students are capable to best represent the school,” he said. “I thoroughly believe that such individuals in charge of those decisions are capable of doing an effective job.”

While he believes that the college has done an adequate job of portraying itself as accurately as possible, Turner is critical of one key aspect of CMC’s marketing strategy.

“Having walked into the admissions office over the last few days, one of the things I noticed was that the cover of one of the brochures features pictures only taken in and around the Kravis Center, and I thought that was a little bit silly,” he said.

Other students have criticized CMC's marketing strategy for its lack of emphasis on the liberal arts. 

However, while Joel Kirk CM '16 is frustrated by the college's emphasis on economics and government, he said that the college's attention to the liberal arts has slowly been changing for the better.

“The school seems to be focusing much more on the liberal arts, especially with what the Gould Center [for Humanistic Studies] is doing,” he said.

The Gould Center seeks to provide opportunities for students to study and engage with art, literature, history, and philosophy. The center has sponsored classes that promote CMC’s inclusion of the liberal arts, such as one on documentary filmmaking and another on contemporary art.

“It seems as though the school is putting a greater emphasis on expanding the liberal arts, and the Gould Center are the ones really working hard to increase the presence of the arts here at the school," Kirk said.