A cutting-edge student recruitment campaign

Choose Your Connection

National College for High Speed Rail

The National College for High Speed Rail (now known as the National College for Advanced Transport & Infrastructure) was the first of five new national colleges set up by the Government to address a nationwide skills shortage, and produce the next generation of engineering professionals.

As an entirely new academic institution, the College had to move quickly to secure a cohort of learners ahead of its opening in 2017, and required extensive PR, marketing, branding, digital and communications support.

The challenge

Social was first appointed by the College before its two state-of-the-art campuses in Birmingham and Doncaster were even completed – indeed, our first piece of design work for the client was to produce stylish hoardings surrounding both building sites. In 2017 we undertook a large scale launch campaign under the banner of “Doors Are Opening”, announcing the opening of applications for the following academic year, sharing the College’s brand and messaging with the wider general public for the first time, and attracting national television and print coverage.

In 2018, the challenge was to build on this success by further developing the College’s messaging, as well as progressing the brand significantly, for deployment both in their new prospectus publication and across wider marketing channels. When the initial brand and materials had been developed, the College did not yet physically exist – now that it did, they were keen to show off the high-tech campuses and equipment and cutting-edge approach to potential students and apprentices.

What we did

Working from the existing brand colour palette, we directed a photography shoot at the College with students and staff, to give us a range of imagery for use across different platforms. Overseeing this gave us the ability to ensure that the photography followed the vision of the wider design concept, and that colours and lighting worked in a complementary way to the other visuals.


We worked with the College to develop a key strapline for the campaign, Choose Your Connection – based around a theme of connectivity that linked the College’s technological and transport-based aspects, as well as the idea of learners “connecting” with their future career options. This theme then informed the visual style, particularly the choice of neon lettering for the key headlines on print materials.

In addition to the new prospectus, we produced outdoor print and digital advertising, bespoke event stands, a full bus wrap design for use in Doncaster, and a dedicated campaign video.