Building Adult-Learning Brand Identities

September 6, 2023

Achieving the Dream

As community colleges seek to more proactively connect with potential adult learners in their communities, many have benefited from adjusting their brand identity and marketing strategies to speak directly to the varied goals and needs of adult learners. This includes changing images on the website or marketing materials, shifting the messaging used in marketing campaigns, promoting certain support services that benefit adult learners, reducing jargon used on the website, creating a landing page that speaks only to adult learnersu2019 concerns, or changing the locations of advertisements.


  • Help more adult learners see the value of a postsecondary credential by communicating how college options relate to their goals, interests, and motivations.
  • Minimize loss points in the interest-to-application process by leveraging branding to show potential adult learners how college can fit into their lives.

Strategy Features

While this may look different to each institution based on its local context, often, colleges find the following are elements of an adult learner-focused brand.
Complementary Program-Specific Marketing

Marketing for the collegeu2019s overall brand is complemented by program-specific marketing efforts that highlight some of the flexible program offerings that can connect adult learners to local career opportunities.

Visuals That Reinforce Belonging

Including testimonials from current adult learners shows potential learners that the college can effectively serve them, too. Visualizing potential careers through images enhances the value of credentials for prospective students.

Adult Learner-Specific Messaging

All marketing messaging should share the vital information adults use to consider enrolling. This includes career opportunities, local wages, costs, program duration, on-the-job training components, and support services.

Clear Calls to Action

Effective marketing materials move potential adult learners from awareness to interest to action. Clear next steps at each stage will ease decision-making for prospective learners.

Implementation Tips

Colleges that have made a shift in their brand to more directly speak to adult learners have found the following approaches useful:
Learn From Adults in Your Community

Before refreshing your brand, consult existing and potential adult learners to discover what resonates with them for a postsecondary credential. Focus on low enrollment areas to understand adults’ goals in those communities.

Work with a Cross-Functional Team

Developing a new brand or marketing strategy for colleges and programs requires collaboration beyond one department. Involve faculty and staff working with adult learners to add diverse perspectives and create effective marketing materials.

Build Multiple Adult Learner Personas

Refresh brand identity and marketing strategy with adult learners in mind. Identify their goals, motivations, decision factors, obstacles, and application behaviors to create a focused approach.

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Implementation Exemplars

Brand & Website Visuals

August 30, 2023

Implementation Exemplars

FMCC Program Marketing Campaign

August 14, 2023

Communication Resources

Rebranding Overview Presentation

August 14, 2023

Planning Tools

Student Persona Example

August 2, 2023

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