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Christine Setrakian’s



what Brand identity and positioning project for a leading Ontario university.

why A Toronto-based advertising agency was hired to refurbish the university’s dated brand and identify areas of discrepencies for the school’s particularly difficult fiscal situation. Transform the school’s marketing efforts as to receive more private funding and donations.



when Project began in 2010. Data is from 2006 to 2009. Ground work compeleted during internship at advertising agency, with project conclusions drawn individually afterwards.

The Business Situation MORE IS BEING EXPECTED FROM THE UNIVERSITY THAN EVER BEFORE, Increase in demand of postsecondary education: the past 15 years has seen huge growth in attendance, increasing by 29% across full and part-time programs.

Evolution, advancement and permeation of technology: has transformed facilities and associated changes in learning expectations and methods.

Increasing diversity of students: many attendees struggle with English and require extra support in reading, writing and verbal communication.

Increasing demand for research advancement and innovation: grants are often big incentives for universities to commit resources towards research.

BUT WITH DECREASING FINANCIAL SUPPORT. PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT GRANTS: The current economic recession coupled with government-imposed restraints on budgets, universities find themselves at a higher deficit than ever before, and more reliant on private fees, contracts, and donations.





All audiences, internal and external, have difficulty singling out the most disctinctive attribute about the brand.

What has been identified as notable characterstics for internal audiences is the institution’s school spirit and sense of community.

The University’s advertising is decentralized, with each faculty in control of their own efforts and budgets. This has led to mixed perceptions and a blurry brand personality – all audiences seem undecided as to whether the University is friendly or snobbish, diverse or narrow, for everyone or elitist. There is also low awareness among the general population of the University’s status versus other top-tier universities in Canada.

The challenge will be to take this essence and make it relevant to those who have not shared in the experience. To achieve this, we need a clear articulation of the brand, that highlights and differentiates the University in the higher education landscape.


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The University is a place for action; it’s students are go-getters involved in clubs, sports, volunteering – and most of all, the school’s community. Students are defined as passionate, motivated and confident.

Many youth attend university as a norm, pressured by family members and peer groups. A degree is no longer seen as a ticket to a white-collar job, but still attendance is still expected.

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The University does not communicate a sense of “wanting” students as strongly as other institutions in recruitment efforts. Coupled with their high admission average (88%), the school is perceived as elitist and aloof.

An increasing number of students stay an extra year in university; one of the most common reasons to stretch out an undergrad is indecision, often because students don’t have clear a idea of what to study in first place.

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There is very low awareness of the University’s brand in Canada and even more so abroad, despite being a top tier univeristy. Perception is not negative, but simply non-existent.

The quality of education received from universities today is being questioned. Critics say that universities are “holding tanks for young people who are no longer needed in the economy”, with too much emphasis put on research projects.

FOCUSING CONCLUSIONS Despite it’s drawbacks, The University has an unparalleled devotion to the full student experience. From guaranteeing first-year students residence, to entire floors dedicated to shared majors or interests, Queen’s has a family-like, involved, vigorous school spirit unparalled by other top-tier universities. The University is intimidating. In today’s rocky economic landscape, students are less confident in choosing a program of study and Queen’s confidence and elitism doesn’t attract these hesitant youths. With the constant flux and insecurity in the education landscape, the marketplace, and, in fact, the world – students are more unsure about getting a university degree than ever before. Bombarded by options but with little insight as to which university is the right choice for them, this makes them even more wary of pursuing a degree.

The Solution BRAND PYRAMID essence:

learn confidence.


emotional reward:

feel included, properly guided, & more secure in what you’re learning and how

it will lead to a career.

well-known degree from prestigious school, smaller class sizes than comparable insitutions, large selection of extra-curricular activities.


top-tier medical-doctoral, convenient mid-size, oldest degree-granting university in Canada, excellent renown reputation and high standards.

POSITIONING STATEMENT To the passionate but hesitant prospective student who is skeptical of impersonal research-based universities in an unsteady economic climate, The University is the post-secondary institution that brings spirit and top-tier academics together, because no other medical-doctoral university in Canada focuses as much on the whole student experience.

what Thesis assignment for the final year of Advertising BDes at OCAD.


We were given the opportunity to choose or create a brand, develop a strategic plan for it’s communication, and create an integrated marketing campaign. I chose to design an online service for a one-stop resource and electronic health record database for patients in Ontario. The following sample is a condensed version of my research and strategy for the project.

when Project began in 2009.

Data is from 2006 to 2009. Project completed in 2011.

The Business Situation THE CLIENT: The mantra of our age. People today are researching everything online, from product reviews to how-to videos. But the vast resource of knowledge that is the Internet can be crippling as well as empowering, particularly when it comes to crucial topics that require extensive education. Health and medicine is one such topic, and also one of the top-researched subjects in Canada.



Yet the sources that are most commonly used for online reference on this subject are collaborative/user-based or run for profit. This makes them broad, impersonal and thus rarely accurate for the individual’s needs – the opposite of what medicine needs to be.

Out of the 145 people interviewed for this project, three cited a Ministry of Health website as their go-to place for health info – that’s less than 1% of the sample group. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care of Ontario has absolutely no online presence. What they do have right now is a lot of issues. Their efforts at creating an electronic database of health records across Ontario has very low or negative awareness, and this digital change isn’t being used to improve patient access to health records as well as practitioners.


This is a contributing factor to why so many people who do know about this project don’t understand the benefits, because they can’t see how it will help them first-hand. In addition, there is no standardization in electronic health record program implementation, so every office, hospital and clinic in Ontario has a different program in use, rather than one universal platform. Finally, it’s no secret that doctors and health-care professionals are over-worked, with little relief as our huge baby boomer population ages.


There’s a need to carry over the faith Canadians have in their doctors and nurses to an online setting. The Ontario Ministry of Health


eHealth efforts need to be communicated more directly to patients, so they can see


Relieve the idea of health care as a burden –

first hand how electronic health records are improving access for all.

all stakeholders (healthcare practitioners, personnel, patients) are overwhelmed, uninformed, and unhappy with the system.




Too much information and too little illumination online leaves us lacking the

People want to be more enlightened about their health to feel empowered, even when

There’s a need to shift our crisis-driven system to a preventative one. Bringing healthcare

needs transparency in its proceedings to help gain credibility and trust in its consumers’ minds.

knowledge to make a proper decision.

visiting a doctor – they don’t want to leave it entirely in someone else’s hands.




innovation from the institution to the home allows patients to become active agents in their health while taking pressure off the system.

FOCUSING CONCLUSIONS Ontarians today are more concerned with their health than ever before, with the threat of chronic disease much more imminent and a healthcare system under severe stress. Many are depending on sources such as online information and walk-in clinics because their general practitioners are difficult to access, or they can’t find a GP available at all. Most Ontarians are trying to balance self-diagnosis at home with the advice of their doctor - there is no source in between the two. They are often caught between searching for the best information online while hoping for a cancellation at the doctor’s office. Health can be unpredictable – it disrupts our lives in a second and we feel a disconcerting loss of control until we get medical advice. Health advisory websites are scary. They’re rife with worst-case scenarios, false information and the lurking possibility that it is a scam for money. We can never take the information we find on these sites at face value - they often leave us feeling more concerned and confused than before, yet we flock to them at the slightest hint of a symptom – a term some have now coined as “Cyberchondria”.

The Solution MyHealth is an Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care universal platform and patient service that gives Ontarians a reliable source for health information online. The service integrates researching health topics with the process of booking an appointment with a doctor, rendering both tasks more accurate and more efficient. Essentialy an amalgamation of the best health advisory tools available online today, and put together under the care and guidance of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, the service isn’t really a new concept. It’s just something that needs to happen.You wonder, in fact, why it doesn’t already exist. The Swedes have something like it - why don’t we?


The Cure for Cyberchondria.


Register for an account on using your health card number and other details

Receive your unique pin and access code. Select your security questions.


Enter your symptoms in the site’s search engine, using either the web application, the tablet app or the smartphone app - hits you receive will be ranked by likelyhood based on data from your health records.

Post doctor’s visit; view your health records electronically to see your doctor’s notes, and to confirm or review information.

Browse Ministry-mediated community forums for support and peer advice.

Book your doctor’s appointment online; browse availability and set email reminders. Fill out a symptom log for your doctor’s visit - either terms flagged from a search or input your own.

TARGET MyHealth is a service for every Ontarian. From the student who has just moved to a new town for university, to the baby boomer couple living in the countryside, this Ministry of Health online portal is a tool to benefit all. The first third of the campaign will endeavor to communicate to the province of Ontario as a whole. Moms, as gatekeepers of their family’s health, are the secondary target as they will help upkeep the use of the service and share it with their families.

Search doctor’s offices, hospital, clinic, laboratory and other medical services locations in your area. Connect to a registered nurse via instant chat or Telehealth for pressing questions.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to call!



Christine Setrakian's Strategy Portfolio  

A sample of strategic work, personal and professional.

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