“Brand” is a loaded word. Even though you can get a simple definition from any dictionary, higher education marketers know that it encompasses so much more. Your institution’s brand consists of a logo, tagline, and color scheme. It includes your website and social media channels. It leaves room for instructors, counselors, and admissions. Your brand is even comprised of pricing and the way you run your school. In other words, a brand is what makes your higher institution yours.
Why Having a “Brand” Matters
One of the great aspects to having a brand is that customers will spend more on your products and services because of who you are. They trust you and the quality you deliver. Even as new products and services are introduced, customers will still continue to choose you.
A brand is just as important for higher institutions. Whether you know it or not, the image your school has either attracts or deters students. Let’s say that your college is known for being supportive and welcoming, but it’s not very diverse. Students looking for a small, intimate college would be drawn to your school. Students with diverse backgrounds would not. They might worry that your college wouldn’t have the appropriate resources.
What does your brand say about your school?
Tips for Creating a Unique Brand for Your College
Your brand is always working for you. It’s important that it’s sending the right message and attracting the right students. Here are a few tips to help you create a successful brand for your college or university.
Understand the perception. How do current students and prospective students feel about your school? Poll or interview students and ask them to describe your school in three words. Look for trends in their responses. Are you happy with the perception that people have?
Match your strengths to student preferences. Sit down as a team and list the most positive attributes of your school. How do these align with student preferences? For example, if your school fosters empowerment, your students should be interested in this as well. What types of groups/activities/internships do you offer?
Ensure consistency across channels. Students will interact with your college on various channels, so consistency is important. Keep slogans, color schemes, logos, image and video quality, and “about” descriptions steady. A style guide is incredibly helpful if you have multiple people working on your marketing channels.
Incorporate your history and community. Colleges and universities are part of a larger community. This community can be a factor in whether students choose your school or not. Include the community and history in your branding materials. This sets you apart from other schools and contributes to your unique story.
Whether your higher institution is 10 years old or 100 years old, it’s never too late to start building a brand. It requires time and consistency, which can start today. As your brand evolves and sends the message you want it to, you will see your hard work pay off.