“What do you like about your job?” It’s the kind of question I often use to torment faculty, staff and alumni during intake meetings and profile interviews, so it’s fair to ask it of myself.
So what do I like about my job?
I like drinking the Kool-Aid. I like walking onto a campus and getting a contact buzz from . . . wherever it comes from. The provost who wants a few more students with green hair. The professor who refuses to publish without a student co-author. The freshman who translated the Latin in all of the college and university seals she looked at. Wherever the enthusiasm comes from, I want to catch it and bring it back to the writers and designers who make up mStoner’s idea factory.
The College of William & Mary is an easy place to get enthusiastic about. Tons of history. Gorgeous campus. Weirdly smart/smartly weird students. A faculty of warm-hearted curmudgeons who actually like to teach. And best of all, an admission staff that understands that the best way to reach the typical William & Mary students lurking in the general population is through a bold expression of the College’s scholarly/service-y/off-kilter personality.
Oh, and their viewbook was from, like, 2004. People didn’t even have iPhones back then.
So they asked us to help them make a new viewbook. A viewbook that would jump out of the mailbox, include a distinctive web component, and, specific to WIlliam & Mary’s enrollment challenges, highlight fun to in-state students and top-tier liberal arts experience to out-of-state students.
A dozen meetings, two online surveys, five focus groups and a tick bite later, we developed “The Ampersandbox,” the stories of William & Mary told through a colloquial word pair joined by the William & Mary ampersandand juxtaposed with candid photos from William & Mary’s Flickr feed. In print, the Ampersandbox was quite literally a box of ampersand cards, each tailored to a different aspect of the William & Mary experience—Fire & Ice (the arts), Bread & Butter (the library), Near & Far (study abroad), Ashford & Simpson (just checking). Online, the Ampersandbox was a microsite where current and prospective students and alumni can create and share their own Ampersand word pairs and stories. We developed the wireframes for the site and W&M built it in-house.
The results so far have been Love & Happiness. Current students and alums who have seen the piece rave about it, saying that it perfectly captures the William & Mary they know and love, and does it in a uniquely William & Mary way. They immediately began posting their own word pairs and photos to the Ampersandbox website. Admission counselors have been taking stacks of cards on the road and tell us that prospective students have been really engaged.
The most popular card? Naked & Friendly. It’s about William & Mary’s mascot, the Griffin. It seems to have no pants.