Brand Repositioning and Digital Marketing Strategy in Higher Ed / Healthcare

In a Nutshell


The University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry is a worldwide leader in oral health education, clinical care and research that is patient-centered and evidence-based, with a foundation in preventive and public health sciences. As part of UIC and the UI Health system, UIC College of Dentistry is the largest dental school and dental care provider in the state of IL, as well as a top 20 oral science research institution. The college serves over 40 thousand patients annually and graduates over 230 DMD and post-graduate students each year.


In 2015, the college’s outdated brand identity and poor digital and physical customer experiences limited potential to attract and engage with target students and patients.

There was little awareness of the college’s strengths in research driven advanced oral disease care, and the community impacts. This was made worse by a poor digital user experience and low online reputation ratings driven by negative reviews.

All of this hampered the college’s potential to expand a burgeoning private practice, bring in more high-value residency program cases, and improve academic competitiveness to attract top candidates and research funding.

The college needed a modernized brand presence and a more relevant value proposition to compete in a changing market for top dental students and high growth services such as dental implants, clear aligner orthodontics and related research funding.


In the fall of 2015, I began building a multi-year strategy and formed a team of cross-functional stakeholders and vendors to refresh and reposition the brand to expand awareness and gain share in desired target segments across student, patient, and funding audiences.

We introduced an ‘outside-in’ and ‘rapid design thinking’ approach to quickly synthesize a wide range of stakeholder priorities into a coherent strategy aligned with the mission. The inclusive approach harnessed the collective wisdom of the team while generating new ideas and fostering collaboration.

The digital-first roadmap of initiatives included a complete redesign of brand assets, website, social media and email marketing, leveraging persona-driven multi-media content and local SEO traffic building.

We focused traffic building efforts first on organic and brand experience improvements that highlighted new value proposition messaging. We produced a library of new SEO tuned articles designed to engage students, alumni and patients at key moments in their journeys. We layered on hyper-targeted ‘brand response’ campaigns to expand awareness while also converting interest in college offerings.

Our content marketing approach included in-depth guides and personalized engagement series for high value segments such as implant patients and top-tier program candidates.  Video was used extensively and distributed via website, YouTube, email and social to amplify brand impact.

We strived to integrate the academic, patient care and research value propositions into the overall brand narrative, and create engaging conversion paths using storylines around scientific discovery, clinical innovation and interdisciplinary training. 

UIC dental students
UIC tips oral hygiene
Bevelroom Consulting

A customer-centric approach. A key to our success was switching organizational thinking from ‘inside-out’ to ‘outside-in’ to be more customer focused. I led a highly inclusive approach including student and patient journey mapping, hands-on persona and content development workshops, usability testing, video production and analytics story telling to drive change while communicating marketing priorities.

New brand slogan. To rally the entire organization around a new brand slogan “changing the future of oral health”, I worked closely with executive leadership and peers to embed marketing best practices into a wide range of business activities from student admissions and clinical care, to administrative functions such as HR and finance.

A newly deployed CRM and marketing automation system was used to generate leads and drive conversion through digital content (video, blog articles, infographics, ebook) matched to the customer journey.

Precision targeted paid media in search and social using new brand assets and storytelling was deployed to boost brand awareness while attracting target audiences to specific programs and offers.

A new reputation management strategy boosted online review ranking and improve business listings, while also providing patient service teams an easy way to respond to reviews and questions in a timely fashion.



Digital Conversion Growth

Optimized conversion path through improved value proposition and persona-matched content.

$350k / yr

Digital Channels Revenue

Grew target patient acquisition 12X over 4 years (MQL)



CRM / email performance. Focused digital-first investment, test and learn approach.

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