Nursing school nears end of rebrandingHeather Stauffer
But if you weren't from the area, you might interpret the name differently.
"What's a general college?" asks Wendell Esbenshade. "Why would I want to go there?"
Esbenshade, who is LGCNHS's director of marketing and communications, says that sort of name confusion helps explain why the college is in the midst of a rebranding initiative.
Growth is a major objective of LGCNHS's five-year plan, and given that only about half of its students are from Lancaster County, its name sending mixed messages is a problem. Esbenshade also notes that LGCNHS wants to sharpen its brand, because higher education is becoming more competitive.
So, for about a year now, LGCNHS has been working with Stamats, an Iowa-based marketing company specializing in higher education.
The process is research based, involving many surveys and focus groups both inside and outside the college. Esbenshade said those results were encouraging, reporting "a very favorable impression" and fairly consistent internal and external assessments.
After using those results to craft a positioning strategy and key messages, the next step is choosing a new name and logo. Then, sometime early next year, LGCNHS will roll out its rebrand, aiming for a big enough splash to begin cementing its new image in the public consciousness.
Stephanie Ellis, LGCNHS communications specialist, says considering all the print materials and signage that will need to be changed, just the logistics of the rollout are "a rather large business undertaking."
After the initial announcement, LGCNHS will continue its new marketing campaign. The last part of the project is keeping the momentum going.
"We have a really great idea of how we're currently perceived, and we'll continue to outline how we need to improve and modify," Ellis says.
Esbenshade won't discuss the cost of rebranding, but both he and Ellis say the school's leaders have been gratifyingly supportive of the process.
Everything comes back to the research, according to Beatrice Szalas, a principal consultant from Stamats.
"Success for a branding campaign is really how the client defines success," she says. If the objective is to increase awareness outside the immediate area, research will show whether that happened.
There's not a specific timeline for making that assessment, but the results don't happen immediately. Szalas recommends repeating the research a couple of years after rolling out the new brand.
Enrollment at Lancaster General College of Nursing & Health Sciences grew from 455 in 2005-06 to 1,250 in 2011-12.
"We're looking for new, innovative ways to meet these demands," said Jean Hershey, chairwoman of the school's R.N. to B.S.N. program.
One example is the college's partnership with the Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown. This spring, the college expanded its two-year R.N. to B.S.N. program to Lehigh, at Lehigh's request.
"Starting next fall, August 2013, we are looking at starting an online R.N. to B.S.N. program," Hershey said. "We know that there are areas of our region as well as beyond our region where there is definitely a need."
Hershey noted that the emphasis on B.S.N. programs is in line with the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that 80 percent of nurses have baccalaureate degrees by 2020.
In 2008, according to the institute, only 36.8 percent of nurses had B.S.N.s, and just 13.9 percent had master's or doctorate degrees.