Active Campaigns

As we discussed in the campaigns overview section, an organization like NOVA can have more than one campaign active at a time. Currently, the “Settle For…” campaign is the only one active in the marketplace.

Since campaigns exist to achieve specific marketing goals, NOVA may add new campaigns in the future. Please contact the NOVA Marketing team if you have any questions.

“Settle For…”Campaign Overview

The Purpose

In Fall 2017, NOVA launched a brand-driven campaign called “Settle For…” to introduce our newly defined brand essence, brand pillars and brand personality to our region. The purpose of the campaign is to boldly overturn misconceptions that some traditional high school students, parents, and even some non-traditional students hold about NOVA — most notably, the misconception that a student is “settling” if they choose to attend NOVA.

Anyone who’s experienced NOVA knows this misconception couldn’t be more false. Not only that, our own research proves that people stuck in this perception actually don’t have many negative things to say about NOVA.

But old stigmas die hard, and many people are hung up on the idea that community colleges are somehow inferior to four-year schools and other higher ed options. Frankly, we’re tired of it.

Most community colleges don’t have the resources to combat those perceptions head-on. As the nation’s second-largest community college with a long history of transforming students’ lives for the better, we decided it was our responsibility and our time to call out misconceptions for what they are and to speak truth to popular opinion.

The Message and Style

What better way for a confident, slightly defiant institution to overturn misconceptions than to take that phrase — “Settle For…” — and turn it on its head in a clever, good-humored way?

The campaign teases that, sure, at NOVA you’re “settling” — for amazing benefits that strike to the heart of our brand promise and set us apart not just from any two-year or four-year institution but from any other higher ed institution in the nation.

The campaign culminates in the tag “Boldly NOVA,” a powerful reference to our brand essence and the perfect expression of the campaign’s bold spirit and the bold new light in which we’re inviting audiences to see a NOVA education.

The campaign’s distinctive visual style is bold as well, a style intentionally different from anything you’d normally see in higher education advertising. The style features animated, hand-drawn illustrations that are meant to capture viewers’ attention and engage them to linger over the humorous and compelling messages in each ad.

Just as the campaign’s central messages overturn misconceptions, the graffiti effect of the illustrations overturns expectations in a similar way, offering people an enjoyable encounter with the NOVA brand that we hope challenges misconceptions and nurtures positive perceptions.

For its distinctive style and powerful message, the “Settle For…” campaign won four gold Medallion awards at the district level and silver and bronze Paragon awards at the national level from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations in 2018.

Campaign Creative Guidelines

The following guidelines should be considered when creating a “Settle For…” ad/family of ads:

Ad Topics

Each ad will have one topic (example topics include: value/less debt; quality of faculty; career and job opportunities; four-year transfer opportunities; etc.).

Each topic should relate to a benefit of a NOVA education (you’ll graduate with less debt than you would if you attended a four-year school; you’ll be educated in something relevant and in-demand; you’ll be taught by faculty who are experts in their field; etc.)


The hand-drawn “Settle For…” headline (drawn by VisionPoint) will be present in every ad, except for the smallest of the web ads.

Creating Photography

A full-color photo of a person will be in every ad.

  • The photo should be taken straight-on at waist height and should include the entire body.
  • When shot, the subject shouldn’t be closely cropped, and enough “white space” should be included on all four sides to allow for the addition of text and hand-drawn graphics (see example below).
  • Ideally, the photo should show someone associated with NOVA (student, instructor, staff, alumni, parent, etc.) and represent the authentic diversity of the NOVA student population.
  • The subject should be positioned against a clean, white background.
  • The subject should strike a casual pose that aligns with the ad persona (which is based on the topic of the ad).

Supporting Copy

Each ad should have between four and eight very short supporting statements that will float in proximity to, and interact with, the person featured in the ad. Some or all supporting statements should be playful in tone.

Hand-drawn Elements

Hand-drawn elements can be used to support the ad’s theme and can interact (be drawn right on top of) the photo. Additional hand-drawn graphics are provided in the campaign creative toolkit.


All ads should end with the “Boldly NOVA” tagline.

Calls to Action

All ads should have a CTA (a URL; contact info; an invitation to an event; etc.).

Text Treatments

While VisionPoint is hand-drawing fonts for the headlines, supporting claims, and tagline in the initial set of ads, we recommend a set of fonts for use when “mass producing” ads and other creative executions in keeping with the “Settle For …” campaign. We suggest the following: (available for purchase at

Creative Headlines

The headline will be short, 2-3 words at most, and displayed in black. It should finish the phrase “Settle For…”

Sample Headlines:

…Your First Choice School
…A Career Boost
…Competing Job Offers
…More Moolah
…A Rock Solid Start
…Rockstar Faculty
…The Good Life

Sub Headings

Each ad can feature six-eight short, to-the-point phrases that support or further explain the headline. The text should be in gray.

Sample Subheads:

  • Start at NOVA and finish at your dream school.
  • Save on your way to a bachelor’s degree.
  • Congrats (in advance) for the promotion!
  • Are you ready for what’s next?
  • Discover passions and learn to shine.
  • Get a college kickstart at NOVA.

“Settle For” Graphics

VisionPoint has created two versions of the hand-drawn “Settle For …” graphic that can be used either with hand-drawn headlines or headlines formatted using the suggested typefaces.

“Boldly NOVA” Logos

There are several configurations of the “Boldly NOVA” logos available for use across varying sizes and layouts.

Calls to Action

These hand-drawn “Get Started Today” graphics can be used at the conclusion of any “Settle For …” ad and should be shown just above, and pointing to, the “Boldly NOVA” Logo.

NOVA Illustrations

A wide variety of hand-drawn illustrations have been created to support the language and spirit of the “Settle For …” brand campaign. These graphics can be nestled within headlines and text.

NOVA Illustration Usage

Illustrations can be used in light gray on a white background, or in dark gray on a black background.

Strokes & Outlines

Illustrations are provided in “live” (images made of strokes) or “outlined” (images made of outlined shapes) versions in the toolkit. When using multiple illustrations in one layout, please begin with the “live” graphics, and if doing any resizing, be sure that all graphics in the layout have equal stroke width.