In relaunching the online Carnegie Mellon responsive university magazine, we have created a technologically sophisticated online university magazine which is commensurate with the Carnegie Mellon brand. It has a singular mission: to build brand awareness for Carnegie Mellon name with people who are not aware of the brand name (“brand unawares”).
Two forces are powering this new relaunch: big data and branding.
Let me begin with two high-level views:
Let me now illustrate the smarts behind this:
1. Data powers the entire user experience: The online magazine sections (aka departments in print parlance) are based on a combination of popular SEO keywords and CMU strategic priorities and. The story tags too are intentionally hand-picked by use of popular SEO keywords. Instead of displaying popular tags alphabetically, they are prioritized in descending popularity order, with ability for site administrators to designate a couple of tags as sticky tags based on university’s strategic priorities.
2. New interactive design deepens the brand: CMU has always innovated at the intersection of two or more disciplines. Elliance applied cutting-edge interface design techniques to tangibly visualize this Carnegie Mellon brand distinction. As an example, in the screen shot below, note how we textually (with dual color-pixels) and visually (with color gradient) illustrated the fusion of robotics and arts&culture.
3. Stories are juiced by SEO Keywords: CMU is leveraging the power of fresh digital content infused with SEO/Social to reach strangers the university may never be able to reach with print alone. Three levels of stories can be created: high fidelity, medium fidelity and low fidelity. Each story will be hand-optimized weekly to maximize the chance of securing Google page 1 rankings and increase social shares.
4. We’ve created an optimal blend of digital and print: Instead of printing a quarterly long-form magazine, CMU has moved to focusing on publishing one in-depth story every week followed by an annual glossy print version which will largely be a collection of the best performing stories. Result: less cost, more engagement and big impact.
5. “Mobile First” simplicity is the new mantra: See the persistent header and navigation on smartphones.
If you want to experience the data-informed and brand inspired magazine – and affect the dynamics of what gets displayed and the SEO rankings during your website visit, click cmtoday.cmu.edu.
October 2016 Update. The magazine has been very massively successful. Traffic has doubled. Over 70% of the website traffic is coming from Google. Over 90% of the users are coming via non-branded keywords like “brain science”, “machine learning”, “LGBTQ demographics”, and more. Brand unawares are becoming aware of the Carnegie Mellon brand name. The client is ecstatic.