Familiar Creatures


Bringing swagger to the college recruitment world.


Teens from 2020 don’t care about a college from 1776. Probs.


Hampden-Sydney College’s motto is “forming good men and good citizens”—a noble cause, yet not exactly Tik Tok material. So they reached out to Familiar Creatures to help them connect with a modern male audience who might not be intrigued by their hallowed hallowedness.



Out with the viewbook. In with the new...magazine.


For decades, H-SC had sent out old-fashioned college viewbooks to espouse the values and offerings of their college, but they were interested in switching that up to something more fresh and frequent. Something like a magazine that came out once a quarter like a magalog.

So what did we name it?




To bring this direction to life, we combined 1950s-inspired design elements with pithy headlines, cheeky ads, and colorful spreads. Completely overhauling the look, tone, and feel of the lookbook and challenging category conventions.


A cover like no other.


Cool name, but how do you make sure 17 year-olds would actually open it? We collaborated with famed illustrator, Conrad Garner, to develop something so enticing, and unusual, that one mere glance of it would cause anyone to say “What the heck did I just get in the mail?” Hence: a confident man riding a shark whilst shaving. And what’s just as daring was the intentional lack of college insignia. Pretty much the exact opposite instinct of any higher ed institution.


Speaking of (inside) higher ed…


They were one of the first publications (along with Print Mag) to feature the Swagalog, along with the Swagablog—a weekly updated blog—filled with video content and brand new articles. The site asks a provocative question when you first arrive: “Would you like some swagger?” Answer no and watch where it takes you...go ahead, we’ll wait.



Looks cool, but did it work?



During Covid-19 while other colleges were dropping in new applications, Hampden-Sydney’s went up 54% thanks to our efforts with the Swagalog/blog. And that’s with no other marketing whatsoever.

So successful was the inaugural Swagalog that H-SC brought it back for Spring 2021. We went back to the drawing board and went bigger and bolder for Swagalog Vol. II, which focused on H-SC alumni.


The Spring Edition grabbed us even more press from places like Graphic Design USA, and grabbed us even more stories of students at Hampden-Sydney reading the Swagalog cover to cover. Proving that sticking to your creative/strategic guns instead of blending in with the usual college recruitment status quo pays off. Even during a pandemic.


Earned Coverage: