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The Bonsai Project

image of bonsai tree

With today’s many Higher Ed options available for high school and post-high school students, Hudson Valley provides an excellent choice for those who are looking for an exceptional value in furthering their education. We wanted to promote the school with some of the area’s top influencers – the regional guidance counselors. Putting ourselves in their shoes, we realized that they serve a variety of needs for vast amounts of students – often being called on for more than just education and career guidance.

We wanted to recognize and thank the counselors for their hard work, and at the same time remind them of all the great reasons one of their students might consider Hudson Valley, whether taking some College in the High School classes during their junior senior year, or pursuing an Associate’s Degree that would lead directly to job placement, or starting their 4-year college journey by saving a bunch of money during their first two years at the community college. We did this by helping Hudson Valley set up an appreciation event for the guidance community.

First, we created a catchy invitation that would be mailed to high school guidance counselors. It needed to be something different, something that would stand out, be useful and pique their interest about the event. Second, we wanted to tie in an actual promotional item that would be given away at the meeting as a thank you gift. The theme needed to tie in from the first piece of communication through the last.

We start every project by thoughtfully considering the target persona on the other end of the promotion. The guidance counselors involved in this program were a persona of a unique kind. While their job is to help their students find their individual path to success, we identified a deeper motivation of truly helping students grow by teaching, encouraging, inspiring and tirelessly being there for them. 

We chose the theme of the bonsai tree to represent their commitment to their students. In Eastern Culture, it speaks to the art, cultivation and nurturing of a very unique plant. It is that same patient, caring and disciplined character that makes the work of guidance counselors so special as well. With that connective spirit, we created our messaging around the bonsai. Our invitation was a journal with a bonsai tree embossed on the leather cover and a note teasing the bonsai idea with an invitation to the campus event. For the counselors who attended, we provided a gift of a living bonsai tree. But it was more than a gift. It was a metaphor of the relationship between the counselors and their students acknowledging the effort and dedication they displayed to the success of their students. This memorable gift – which we hoped they would place proudly on their desks – would serve as a daily acknowledgement to their dedicated work (and fondly remind them of what Hudson Valley is all about!)

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