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Brand Study Research Findings

Summary, November 2017

Who Are MCTC’s Audiences?

A scan of those who may be most influenced by MCTC’s brand indicate its key audiences are prospective traditional students, prospective non-traditional students, current students, employees as well as business and industry partners.

The Only Constant Is Change

Over the years, MCTC has undergone significant changes and transitions. A study of industry shifts currently underway indicates affordability is key and points to many innovations occurring in teaching and learning styles. Creating a sense of “place” for students and employees is critical. MCTC’s primary competitors were determined to be other community and technical colleges and online programs. Additional competition comes from traditional four-year universities and apprenticeships. The majority of respondents expressed optimism about MCTC’s current leadership and the anticipated changes to its brand. All were looking forward to finding a positive direction forward as a unified institution. “MCTC is constantly trying to improve processes and break barriers.” Building from the institution’s core mission and values, a cohesive brand strategy that transcends across all departments and disciplines will foster a sense of identity, control and a unified front.

Current Brand Value

The existing brand falls short in depicting MCTC as a place with high-quality education, academic rigor and opportunity. MCTC was described repeatedly as a thriving academic institution where students are surprised and amazed by the high-level discussion, academic rigor, challenge and opportunities presented. However, typical responses were, “There isn’t a brand we can rally around” and “Create an authentic identity we can be proud of.” MCTC students and employees have a desire to be part of a college with spirit, traditions and, most importantly, identity. They want to be a part of a community, have pride in their choice and rally together. In addition to providing students and employees with a sense of place, branding is critically important to getting the word out to the community about MCTC. MCTC currently lacks a unifying brand and identity for its audiences to rally behind. Some respondents noted disjointed messaging, a confused color scheme and inconsistent logo usage.

What’s In a Name?

Individuals typically refer to the institution as “Minneapolis Community and Technical College”, “MCTC”, or “the college downtown”. Many prefer the acronym citing they find the full name too long and cumbersome. Some respondents advocated for a name change with “Minneapolis College” being suggested consistently. The majority of respondents were in favor of the change citing prestige, pride, ease of saying it and opportunity to own the city name as motivating factors. Due to limitations defined in Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board Policy 3.23, Naming Colleges and Universities, Capsule recommends against a name change at this time; however, suggests a redesign to emphasize “Minneapolis” and “College”.

Visuals Tell a Story

“MCTC Joe”, “Pillar Boy”, “Torch Man” are some of the many different names used in referring to MCTC’s logo mark. The overwhelming majority of those polled did not respond positively to the mark but found it to be outdated and in need of a modern makeover. The vibrancy of the mark was appreciated. However, there was a strong desire to connect the mark to a story with greater meaning that resonates with the MCTC community and its mission.

What’s Different Here?

MCTC’s key points of differentiation revolve around its strength in helping remove barriers to achieving higher education, its high standard of academic rigor and a growing tendency toward delivering services and education using a human-designed approach.

DIVERSITY: When asked to describe the college, nearly all respondents mentioned the importance of diversity. Often regarded as one of the most eclectic gatherings of people from the most diverse lifestyles in the state, MCTC comprises students and faculty representing 80 different languages, ages ranging from 16 to 75 and an amazing variety of cultures, religions, sexual orientation and socioeconomic backgrounds. Diversity is something MCTC can authentically speak to and claim expertise in: “It’s like being in a mini united nations here – makes for a great learning environment”, “A Minnesotan international experience”, “Cultural Competency 101”, “This creates an experiential learning environment where students can develop a rich understanding of cultural fluency, collaboration, and diversity in all respects”, “Strong cultural competence”, “It’s about diversity in a lot of ways – the contrasts in the classroom make a lot of interesting things happen”, “What we all have in common is that we’re all different-there are others like me here.”

EVERYONE'S INVITED: MCTC is described as a place where passionate students want to be, regardless of their backgrounds or personal circumstances. It is often considered a stepping stone toward successful careers and futures for both students and faculty. It is a place of transformation, a place to build a foundation, a place where everyone is welcome. Along with their diverse backgrounds and experiences, MCTC’s students are described as having a special drive and grit. “Transformation happens here – you may not know what that change is going to be, but something happens here that transforms lives. It transforms faculty and staff.”

SPECIALTY PROGRAMS: When asked what MCTC does particularly well, an overwhelming majority of respondents rattled off a lengthy list of academic and service-centered programs such as accessible and affordable transit, accommodating study spaces, a food shelf, a free health clinic, and 50-plus clubs and extracurricular programs for students. “MCTC is very support- and resource-centered.”

LOCATION: In the heart of downtown Minneapolis, nearly every respondent mentioned MCTC’s location as making it distinct. The area offers an exciting, energizing buzz and vibrancy. Not only does the location create an opportunity to attend college for those who rely on public transportation, it also presents access to other opportunities and benefits by being near the city’s skyway system, parks, theatres, music, businesses, sporting events and many more desirable activities and amenities.

People Don’t Know MCTC

Respondents routinely expressed that MCTC lacks regular visibility within the community. Specifically, prospective students, business partners and employers were noted as groups that are not aware of MCTC. “We’re a quiet little jewel over here.” Students, staff and faculty are equipped to quickly and effectively communicate what MCTC is all about, becoming its best brand ambassadors.


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MCTC Campus

MCTC is located in the heart of a vibrant city, in an area rich with creative energy and economic activity, corporate headquarters, community organizations, social resources, arts, shops and restaurants.

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