Inside the marketing of Marian’s brand

By J1 Reporter Naomi Delkamiller   

Meredith Mueller ’20 and Emily Lamilla ’20 are pictured on the main entrance screen.

Unlike Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg, or Elon Musk, Susan Rosenlof is marketing a mission– the mission of Marian. Rosenlof started at Marian in 2016 as the marketing and communications director with more than 25 years of experience. Today she continues to showcase the Marian aspirations in an attempt to attract prospective students. 

     As a 1982 Marian alum, Marian has always been a big part of who Rosenlof is. Becoming the marketing director has continued the connection. “I feel a lot of ownership in what the brand is and making sure it is going to have a timeless element just like it did when I was a student,” Rosenlof said. 

     Rosenlof’s job lacks a concise description because of its all encompassing nature. Between strategy, planning, and content creation, Rosenlof experiences duty overlap on a daily basis. Among her biggest responsibilities is sustaining the Marian brand of confidence, compassion, community, service, spirituality, and Marian identity.

     This branding starts with deciding a marketing theme. Once decided, the cycle lasts two years and material created in these rotations go into pamphlets, magazines, and advertisements. “A couple years ago the recruitment theme was very serious, moody, dark, collegiate, more about the aspirations parents have for their daughter, but maybe not how things really look,” Rosenlof said. “At the end of that sequence we wanted to go lighter, brighter, correlate with the rise of Instagram.” 

France Cihunka ’21, photographed at an all school Mass. 

      This new cycle would include lots of negative space, a blown out look, and “A Day in The Life Photos,” that current Marian girls see all around campus. From street light banners that line Military Avenue to the slideshow screens throughout the main entrance, the Marian brand is hard to miss. “Marian’s brand is mostly based in the core values,” Rosenlof said. “Everyone comes to Marian for different reasons, but our core values are a huge factor, especially the confidence piece.”

Sr. Lucielle and Anna Kidder ’21 are featured on street banners on the school drive.

      Outside of Marian’s in-house marketing department one could find photographers, digital artists, and even some data from a marketing company that contributes to the effort. Every year Eleven Twenty Three reports back to the Marian marketing department to share their latest research on Marian’s target audience and ideas on how to reach them. 

      Marian has had a consistent rise in freshman class enrollment with growing racial diversity, the brand seems to be working on the exterior, but what about the interior?

      Senior Emily Saalfeld said she believes in the Marian brand, but sometimes when having a bad day or feeling stressed, she questions the photos that roll on the screens throughout the school. “I’m not always that perfect Marian girl,” Saalfeld said. She added that one of her classes had recently had a discussion about the way Marian markets and got the impression that she’s not the only student who feels this way.

     Rosenlof understands this student curiosity and wants girls to know the intentions behind marketing a mission. “We have to stick to our strongest message,” Rosenlof said. “Our mission isn’t to have girls drinking on the weekends or being snarky and mean to each other. If I were a journalist there might be more obligation to show the full picture. On the marketing side, we are really speaking to our aspirations and mission.”

     One cannot possibly show every single aspect of high school because each experience is different. Therefore, Marian sticks to its best message, aspiring to achieve each core value in its truest form. “There’s a lot of things that go into someone’s personal experience within the brand,” Rosenlof said, “but our main goal is to represent what Marian aspires to be.”

     At the end of the day Rosenlof is aware of the importance of what she does and the reality that it faces. “Humans are going to make mistakes. Crisis doesn’t match a brand, but how you handle it does,” Rosenlof said. “There are definitely going to be bad things that happen in a company, because it’s run by people.” 

     In conclusion, Susan Rosenlof isn’t Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerburg, or Elon Musk. She markets a mission that reflects an entire community and that is something only people who truly believe in a brand are willing to do. 

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