Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Marketing of Christian colleges is a nuanced art. It requires a sensitive touch and storytelling that answers two big questions. The first one is a burning question that haunts all of us at some deeper level: how do we reconcile faith with modernity? The second question is an institutional one: how can we define our flavor of Christianity that is narrow enough to attract the right-fit Christians and broad enough to attract other denominations and people of different faiths from around the world?

If you survey Christian college websites, you will see a few flavors of treatments:

(a) Address right-fits, but ignore others.
(b) Beyond the logo and tag lines, don’t address Christianity it at all.
(c) Caricaturize the college’s flavor of Christianity by showing a picture of their beautiful chapel.
(d) Mention the Christian roots only in the history of the college.

You will be hard-pressed to find instances of colleges that are comfortable reconciling faith with modernity and defining an inclusive definition of Christianity. Our team at Elliance excels at taking these tough issues head-on. To see some wonderful examples where we struck just the right balance, check out the websites we have built for St. Edward’s University, St. Norbert College, Duquesne University MBA Sustainability, Appalachian Bible College and Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business.

You might be wondering about the secret behind the success Elliance has had in marketing of Christian colleges. In a nutshell, it’s our talented team. I have inadvertently attracted a group of talented people who are seekers trying to reconcile their own faiths with modern values. Full credit goes to them for creating wonderfully nuanced experiences for Christian schools. As a man of faith myself who was raised at the midpoint of tradition and modernity, my contribution has been to create a psychologically safe environment where people feel comfortable exploring their personal faiths.

If you have examples of websites that do a wonderful job of marketing of Christian colleges and universities, I would love to hear from you.

Learn more about our higher education marketing services.

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  1. Abu, thank you for this post. As usual, you’ve provoked my thoughts.

    I agree. So many Christian colleges don’t get it right. Many don’t care–to your point–and many others care so deeply that they confuse identity with brand and branding, and don’t touch the heart of the prospect, nor reach out to others, as you said.

    I need to think further about your first point that marketing Christian colleges must set a tone and tell stories that reconcile faith with modernity. I haven’t thought of it in that way.

    While all of us to some degree or another wrestle with that question, and while it is certainly a process of both heart and mind, at more conservative Christian colleges and universities, faith is personal. While it’s come alive for us through ancient scripture, through faith we’ve believe it today.

    Given that the primary market for Christian colleges is usually adherents, Christian colleges typically brand to that market segment. It is indeed a challenge to connect to believers and unbelievers. For me, that’s done through communicating values rather than just theology–academic values, community values, etc. We all come to our values from different frames of reference. For me, it’s from a faith perspective. For others, it’s from simply being human. But we can share a common belief in the values that shape us and should shape our world. Thus, we are able to have communities that affirm Christian values and community while welcoming and including others who may not share our faith.

    A final thought… Isn’t the process of reconciling faith with modernity what the classroom experience should be about? In that marketing higher education should convey the student experience, branding a Christian college should convey that academic journey.

    I love this blog! Good stuff. How do I subscribe?

    And terrific work on those websites! I had already admired St. Edwards University’s site. It was good to see the others.

    Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

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