Manlius Pebble Hill School | Syracuse, NY
For nearly 150 years, Syracuse’s Manlius Pebble Hill School has created life-changing intellectual partnerships between teachers and students. The exciting, rigorous curriculum rejects the constraints of standardized tests, inspiring students to dive deeper and reach higher. Not only do MPH students consistently post top test results, but they go on to attend the nation’s finest universities and launch significant careers.
But MPH’s enrollment had fallen in recent years, due to both internal circumstances and shifts in external attitudes and economics. MPH needed to freshly articulate the school’s powerful promise to prospective families, energize the school’s loyal-but-somewhat anxious internal community, and make the case to a market with numerous top-notch—and free—public school options.
Jennifer Neuner, Director of Marketing and Special Events
For decades, The Manlius Pebble Hill School had produced uncommonly curious, compassionate, self-directed, and creative graduates. By encouraging highly productive intellectual partnerships between students and teachers, and surrounding them with a remarkably supportive community, MPH formed a one-of-a-kind environment for academic and personal growth from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
However, institutional decisions by the previous long-term administration, combined with a nationwide financial downturn felt particularly hard in Central New York, led to a decrease in enrollment and questions about the future direction of the school.
How could MPH reclaim—and proclaim—everything the school did so well, while conveying to the wider world that even greater success lay ahead?
From our very first moments on campus, our CRANE team realized that the teacher-student relationship formed the heart of the MPH learning journey. And this relationship—along with an intensive academic program, confidence-building arts and athletics, and a warmly inclusive school community—shaped strikingly engaging, witty, confident, and thoughtful young people at every grade level. Showing the world how well MPH’s program worked meant highlighting the school’s most noteworthy outcome: the students themselves.
Focusing on internal alignment, along with consistent earned and paid media exposure, has resulted in external brand awareness like never before.
The metaconcept underpinning MPH’s new identity system, “The MPH Effect,” reveals the many ways students blossom in this intentionally created learning environment. A series of “effects,” such as eloquence, tenacity, readiness, integrity, and intellect, along with how and why the school produces them, form the basis of the school’s messaging in a wide range of print and digital formats. Brackets around the “effect” word emphasize each outcome’s importance and uniqueness.
Graphic depictions of The MPH Effect include a pixel-gradient treatment applied to photographs. Based on a chemistry metaphor, the treatment shows the effect as an ongoing transformation, underscored by the photograph’s transition from grayscale to full color. Warmly engaging photographs showing intellectual and personal relationships, and the excitement of learning at MPH, provide moving testaments to the school’s distinct ethos.
The new messaging has improved internal alignment among faculty and staff, as community members own and articulate personal descriptions of “The MPH Effect.” The school is also experiencing an increase in external brand recognition in and around Syracuse, and has enjoyed a noticeable uptick in earned media coverage. Giving has increased, and the school has met its overall budget goals with new student enrollment for the past two years.