How we serve you

The academic world can be a quirky, inspiring, surprising, maddening, life-affirming place. You deserve a strategic marketing partner that appreciates all of those qualities. Which is why we’re here.

Our History

Founded in 1993 in Rochester, NY, Cognitive Marketing is a communications and brand development firm specializing in the academic segment, from small colleges to large universities to independent schools. In our early years, we built a broad portfolio of clients across several disciplines including non-profit, economic development, public sector, and higher education. But in 2003, we zeroed in on brand and marketing for educational institutions as our distinct specialty. Since that epiphany, we’ve worked with a wide range of schools. To solve tough problems. Adapt their message to a changing world. Bring their innate brand voice into perfect tune.

Creative Intelligence

Thoughtful study. Sharp strategy. Inventive tactics. Together, those three pillars yield the creative intelligence that sets our work apart, and it shows in the results we get for the institutions we serve. But even those three pillars need a proper foundation of values:

  • Passion for education. Your work as an educator is fundamental—vital—to society. A great school can only improve if it can attract the people and resources it needs to secure its progress. We help great schools grow stronger and more capable of providing for the common good.
  • Delightful service. A satisfied client simply isn’t enough. We aim for ecstatic. By delivering impeccable work and demonstrating our care with every account we serve. There’s no serving an institution well unless we serve its people first. That’s the “delight factor” and we live for it.
  • Deep expertise. Every member of our team serves as consultant to the education marketplace in their own right. And we each concentrate on a personal area of knowledge we freely share with our agency and client colleagues. That breadth of expertise across a range of relevant topics makes us an indispensable, multi-dimensional resource for educational institutions.
  • Tough self-criticism. Safe, predictable creative doesn’t win the day. Smart, daring work does. Messages that break through. Channels people actually use. Ideas that stand the test of time. To get there, we have to be our own worst critics—and we are. Cognitive holds its ideas up to the light. Looks at them closely. Subjects them to collective scrutiny.
  • Insatiable curiosity. Marketing is the thing we love to do. Education is the thing we love to study. We devour both topics relentlessly. Everyone on our team follows the latest developments in our business and yours. From design trends to new technology to generational shifts. And our client colleagues benefit—because we share what we learn in order to help our partners build their own skills.
  • Enduring relationships. Our clients tend to stay with Cognitive through many seasons, and through many changes. But even when we no longer work together month to month, we stay connected. It’s not just about the work we have in front of us; it’s about our team’s commitment to helping everyone in the field we care about to stay connected. Simply put, we don’t believe in ex-clients.

What We Do

Cognitive Marketing begins every engagement with a deep study of a school and its people through the full range of research methodologies. We are as concerned with your various audiences as we are with the tactics and messages that will speak to them. From prospective students and their influencers to current students and their families. Alumni to local residents of your hometown. Future staff and faculty.

This thoughtful approach is why our work endures. In fact, there’s brand language still in use at schools throughout the U.S. that we developed as long ago as two decades. For The Harley School in 1998. For Gettysburg College in 2003. The Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in 2006. All still alive and well—and working hard for these remarkable institutions.

We dig deep into the identity of every school we serve. Find out what makes you tick. And, ultimately, arrive at an articulation of your brand based on a thoughtful interpretation of the truth about your school.


Building brand and a marketing program is a major investment of time and resources. Choose a trusted, collaborative partner committed to your success. Cognitive Marketing is here to help!