Choosing a college is not an easy decision. Most students make their final decision based on how the school makes them feel, not necessarily its costs or rankings. Some colleges and universities are well-known and have strong emotions attached to their brand colors and logos. But, many other higher institutions are only recognizable to a small population. If this is you, how can you solidify your brand and create a sense of belonging? We’ll teach you three ways to be successful in this.

1.  Understand your current brand perception

The first thing to understand is your school’s current perception. Often times, higher EDU departments think they know how people feel about education, but their viewpoints are partial. People who work in schools tend to have had positive academic experiences growing up, but this isn’t the case for everyone.

One of the best ways to gather different perspectives is by issuing a survey. You can post the survey on your social media pages and website, or you can include it in an email. Here are some examples of good survey questions:

  • What adjectives would you use to describe our school?

  • What do you like most about our school? What do you like least?

  • How likely is it that you would recommend our school to a friend or family member?

  • What suggestions do you have to make our school better?

2. Develop your key messages

The next step is to develop the key messages that your school will deliver. After all, you want to be in control of your brand’s messaging and not leave it for others to interpret. Answer these questions: What do you want your school to be known for? When people think of your school, what words do you want to come to mind?

Start by making a list of your school’s best qualities. When you look at these attributes, do you find that they match up with what others think about your school? If not, these are areas that you need to focus on, as there is a clear discrepancy. On the other hand, if there is alignment between your perceptions, highlight these messages to cement your message.

3. Create a 30-second pitch

Lastly, put together an “elevator speech” that describes your school. It should only be about 30 seconds or less and contain the things you would tell someone if you caught them in a quick elevator ride. Great things to include in your pitch are your:

  • Value proposition

  • Vision statement or tagline

  • Goals for students

  • Ways you support these goals

When students hear your school’s name, what do you want them to think and feel? This is what branding is – and you can control it. Your reputation makes all the difference in whether students consider your school or not, so it’s worth every effort to solidify your brand. The power is in your hands.