In today’s market-driven economies, a brand is the most valuable asset for any company, whether it deals in a tangible product or an intangible service. Institutions of higher education such as colleges and universities are facing an increasingly competitive environment in which they need to differentiate their institution and attract students, faculty, and investment. After decades of ignoring branding, universities are finally realizing the worth of branding and putting their money and resources on developing a strong brand image.
What is Branding?
Branding is about making an instant connection in a customer’s mind about a product, service or company, and the value it offers. Branding an institution is the process of communicating its values and unique selling points.
Here are some ideas to help create a brand image in higher education.
Listing Drivers of Choice
Students choose their university based on a number of factors, such as the courses it offers, faculty, campus activities, perceived social image, history, course fees, location and more. Therefore, the university needs to take into identify the drivers of choice before it starts to build a brand identity.
USP or unique selling proposition is the key attribute that a product or service offers that others do not. An institution needs its brand identity to differentiate itself from others in the same segment, based upon its strengths and values as a place of learning. An institution should clearly identify its USP and how it aligns with the requirements of the target audience, ensuring the brand communicates its USP.
Developing a Visible Logo
A brand logo needs to be developed that is high impact, recognizable and relevant to your audience. The logo may be accompanied with a slogan that should convey your key attribute in a short and catchy message. The logo should be flexible enough to support a digital marketing campaign. Audiences increasingly view messages in a digital form, so designers need to consider the images, copy, colors, fonts, etc. that will be easily visible on mobile and computer screens and across all social media platforms.
Support of Top Management
For any branding exercise to succeed, it is important to have the support of senior management. This is particularly true in the often traditional world of higher education. This may involve direct, face-to-face conversations with students, staff and alumni, taking them on board with project plans, financial details, return-on-investment (ROI), and so on.
Branding is a complex task that requires positioning the institution in the minds of the audience, so it is always advisable to take the help of a marketing or branding agency that specializes in this job.