Interview with Christina Albetta, program manager for Crane MetaMarketing

By Jeongyoon Han
Spring 2017

To view the story this interview was for, click here.

Q. When did Crane first come up with the idea that MPH should have new marketing colors?

A. MPH is a thoughtful, organic place headed into a new future and full of nuanced teaching and insightful students. We wanted the color palette to convey a sense of possibility and growth – and a reddish color is still in the mix, but one that’s easier to combine with other shades. The fact that you’re doing this story exactly points to the curiosity and self-possession we saw on campus.

MPH’s athletic colors are vibrant and strong but that strength and saturation of the red makes it a bit hard to work with in brochures, advertising, and posters. That bright red can sometimes take over! It limited the accent colors available; you can’t incorporate green, or it looks like Christmas. So, as we do in all our client work, we formulate a palette of colors that relate well together, based on the feel of the school. And with that red, we were limited in finding companion accent colors we could introduce. We want to reassure everybody that marketing colors are not the same as school colors, and we aren’t replacing your school colors.

Q. How did Crane come about choosing the shades of green and blue for MPH? Did you conduct any “pilot” tests to see how MPH would like the colors? How did you choose these exact shades?

A. The shades of green and blue represent possibility, opportunity (the sky’s the limit!), energy, life and development – as in the spring green signifying growth. When constructing a color palette, the goal is identifying a series of shades that represent the place and play well together. Initially, we organized the three colors of the new nameplate in a different way, but when we tried them out in front of the MPH team, they noted that the former Pebble Hill school color was green. So we shifted the order to represent that. Our designers worked with many, many shades before we settled on this trio of colors for the nameplate; others were added as accent shades.

Q. In a talk given to the student body, Upper School Head John Stegeman said that the new colors are proven to be good colors (and better than red/white) for marketing. What evidence do you have to validate that green/blue is better than red and white in attracting prospective students/families?

A. Your school/athletic colors are not going anywhere; they represent you and your teams’ strength and many years of accomplished history. But in the marketing world, colors come and go. Long-used colors and images can look dated and tired, and by continuing to use a traditional red farmhouse, we run the risk of a prospective family mistakenly assuming things about you because the look of your materials feels out of date. MPH is anything but “old school” so by departing from traditional marketing colors Manlius Pebble Hill School has the opportunity to truly differentiate itself and point to the vibrant teaching and learning that happens on campus every day.

Q. In your words, what purpose do the new colors and logo have in the MPH community?

A. These fresher marketing colors represent the intellectual vibrancy we encountered among students, faculty, and staff at MPH.

Q. Could you elaborate on Crane and the MPH administration’s view that red/white (along with the Farmhouse Logo) is too “traditional” and, as Mr. Stegeman put it, “aggressive”?

A. Red means stop, right? It means your phone battery is fading! It’s not a comforting color. It’s a strong and powerful one on an athletic jersey, but less so when you want to invite people who don’t know you to take a deep look at what you have to offer at MPH. In terms of the farmhouse logo, it is valuable and endearing and will still be used in lots of ways relative to alumni gatherings and other school needs.

Q. Were there any other colors that were contenders?

A. Every color had a chance!

Q. Were there any reservations in introducing these new colors?

A. Not really. Our team believed your community was sophisticated enough to understand the value of updating your approach with prospective families in a way that would quickly communicate that MPH is a place of new thinking and pedagogical approaches.

Q. Had the financial crisis at MPH not occurred, would Crane still have recommended introducing new marketing colors?

A. MPH was ready for a rebranding to properly position itself as an independent school – the financial crisis notwithstanding. It is always best practices to keep up with marketing trends to be sure a school is properly positioned in the market.

Q. What is your/Crane’s response to members of the MPH community who say that the new logo/colors don’t represent MPH?

A. Read the viewbook. Read the other materials CRANE has produced. The richness of your pedagogy and the vast intellectual opportunity at MPH is well-represented there, amid colors that don’t compete with your assertion that your teachers use new, innovative and customized approaches to developing young minds at MPH. You’ll see the point of the work is telling the rich MPH story and inviting others to come experience it. The gentler colors aid in the storytelling and convey in one glance, that this place deserves a second look.