Western New England University

Active Participation Required

Turning viewbook readers into explorers.

Beyond the Page

Viewbooks are a tried-and-true method of introducing a college or university to students and parents. When Western New England University approached us about redesigning its undergraduate recruitment materials we wondered how we could update the viewbook format for today’s students.

Western New England’s “active participation required” theme inspired us to develop an interactive — yet still printed — viewbook.

Western New England’s “active participation required” theme inspired us to develop an interactive — yet still printed — viewbook.

The viewbook begins by prompting readers to download a special app on their smartphones and scan “active participation required” badges and other cues. When they do, content appears on their phones. An example is aerial drone footage that zooms across campus.

When they scan the financial aid page, an animation of a calculator generating numbers pops up. The screen takes them to a scholarship calculator and links to the financial aid section of Western New England’s website.

Students also see more playful effects when they scan the viewbook. A headline that reads “break new ground,” for example, shatters and they hear the sound of glass breaking.

By incorporating augmented reality into the viewbook, Western New England gives prospects the best of both worlds. They get a tactile connection to the school they can hold and touch (the printed piece). And a digital perspective that lets them uncover the many layers of the student experience.

Repurposing digital content is also a great way for Western New England to get more from their investment in video and social media.

"For this particular project, I asked my team at Spark to really push the envelope, but to do so in a way that didn’t distract readers from our academic mission. Not only could I not be more pleased with the results, I cannot tell you how many members of the guidance community have reached out to tell us how impressed they were with our new publications."

— Bryan Gross , Vice President for Enrollment Management, Western New England University

The Big Picture

The university approached us when it wanted to redesign its student recruitment materials. Its undergraduate publications were out of sync. Prospective students might receive a brochure one day and an email the next that looked quite different from each other. Bringing visual and verbal consistency across touchpoints was an opportunity to strengthen the Western New England brand. And ultimately, to support enrollment goals.

Spark451 surveyed Western New England’s print and digital publications. They included everything from viewbooks and emails to brochures for off-campus admissions events. We then created a suite of publications informed by quantitative research and focus groups. They work in tandem so that wherever students are in the enrollment funnel, the materials they and their parents receive are immediately recognizable as Western New England.