May 2, 2013

Q. and A. with John DeNatale, Associate Dean, Communications & Public Affairs, Cardozo School of Law

“Corey’s team was sensitive to the dilemma of getting a big institution to move in one direction. Rather than herding cats, the process they have perfected invited graceful integration at key moments. The result seemed more like watching a school of dolphins cut through the water and somehow keeping in line and making it look like fun.”

Corey recently rebranded the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law creating a new tagline and website. We sat down with John DeNatale, Associate Dean, Communications & Public Affairs, to hear his thoughts on how Corey’s rebranding, Bringing Law to Life, helped capture the essence of the school and its mission.


1. How did Corey “bring law to life” in the Cardozo site?

By spending a good deal of time with our faculty, our students and administrators the Corey team came to understand the law school in a very real way. We were all very impressed by the careful and thoughtful process they brought us through. It included over 15 one-on-one interviews, a number of group discussions lead by Corey, and several workshops with invited members of the community doing detailed and fun breakdowns of the distinctive qualities of our school. The Corey team wrote a detailed branding document with supportive documentation and a blueprint for how we would best talk about the genuine aspects of the school that define us. The tagline Bringing Law to Life captures the essence of our school and our mission to blend theory with practice and to provide students with opportunities to be transformative leaders in their chosen fields.

2. Was there a big “aha” moment that Corey’s process and work unveiled for you?

The big ‘aha’ moment was when it became clear that Corey had helped the various constituents of the community validate their own sense of what makes the place special. It was exciting to see the process unfold and to see how carefully and professionally Michael McPherson managed his team, who in turn brought their various levels of expertise into the process. The idea of ‘branding’ a law school is somewhat anathema to many of the professors and academics here. It became evident that by thoughtful engagement and listening the Corey team earned the trust of everyone they dealt with. They became the trusted psychologist who helps hold a mirror up to an institution and thus creates a climate of curiosity and playful learning about the collective endeavor. Where participants had anticipated work and ‘marketing’ they were impressed to find serious dedication to a joint mission.

3. Why do you think the collaboration with Corey was so successful?

The people at Corey made the collaboration successful. We internally had a core group of about five or six people from the school and from Corey who took ownership of the entire project. That group then opened up the process in waves so that there was buy-in over the six months of the project. That process was managed by Alisa Shapiro who kept a tight hold on making sure communications, deadlines, and follow-up were always paramount. The sense of being involved in a very dependable process, with clear deadlines and goals, and with points for feedback and discussion was a very key component to the success of building a collaboration.

4. What did Corey do that was the most valuable to you?

In addition to nailing our brand, helping us to bring it to life and creating a dynamic and successful website, Corey helped us to be confident about the voice of the school and our messaging. That has a long term value with respect to expressing the vision of the school in clear and meaningful ways to a variety of audiences including students, prospective students, alumni, faculty and the public at large.

5. Garnering internal alignment is a huge endeavor, particularly with a website redesign and particularly with a school. How did Corey’s process help?

Corey has a very distinct process which they articulated at the outset and which they stuck to. It became clear that we should trust the process and that the synergies that developed over time would be invaluable to the school. There were many groups that needed to be managed and brought into the process, but not allowed to overwhelm it. Corey’s team was sensitive to the dilemma of getting a big institution to move in one direction. Rather than herding cats, the process they have perfected invited graceful integration at key moments. The result seemed more like watching a school of dolphins cut through the water and somehow keeping in line and making it look like fun.

6. How will you measure success for the new Cardozo site?

The site has changed the way we communicate in dozens of ways. Whereas in the past many of our programs had their own direction and their own flavor now we are unified and all wheels point in the same direction. The key measure of success is the perception of incoming students and alumni who feel a kinship with what they see on the site. Anecdotally we have had a lot of feedback form these groups that they experience on the site mirrors what they feel about the school. Longer term we’ll be looking to see how our own internal groups use the interactivity that Corey designed into the drupal site to keep the site dynamic. From the communications team perspective it has been a night to day shift in that making decisions about stories, photos, video and branding messages is much easier and more fluid. There are daily reminders of how we would have posted information in the past and how we do it now. And the strong sense is that the technology and the construction of the site really supports the concept behind the brand of Bringing Law to Life. SO the real measure of success at this point is our own internal sense that we can fire on all cylinders and move quickly and effectively to communicate who we are.

7. Now that you’ve had the Corey experience, please complete the following, “Wouldn’t it be great if….”

Wouldn’t it be great if your audience could really know you?
Wouldn’t it be great to have a website that reflects the best of your organization?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could speak clearly to exactly the people you want to reach?
Wouldn’t it be great if defining your brand could be a collaborative and fun process?
Wouldn’t it be great to have a team behind you that listens and THEN acts?
Wouldn’t it be great to see results that exceed all your expectations?
Wouldn’t it be great if your whole organization could sing on tune?

To learn more about the project see our newsletter on Cardozo or Subscribe to our newsletter.


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