When you think of Thanksgiving what comes to mind: family, food, football? When a prospective student hears the name of your university what do they think of: historical legacy, famous alumni, reputation, quality education, university image, prestige? The need for effective branding has become a strategic imperative due to brand-savvy students, competition of resources (faculty, transformational research, students, universities, donor dollars, globalism), and stakeholders concerns about reputation and rankings. 3 marketing strategies that will help your university build brand loyalty:
1. Value Proposition: Differentiate yourself by identifying your unique value
proposition. What makes you university distinctive? What are the unique attributes, strengths compared to competing brands? How are you developing a compelling and cohesive brand position? Differentiate by recognizing your core attributes: awareness, image, acceptance, quality programs, cutting-edge research, block programming, distinctive internship programs. Market research will give you the ability to measure and assess perceptions of your brand in the marketplace, measure awareness of your university and competitors, test new courses and programs, test price points, determine most effective communication tactics. It will help you set benchmarks that measure how far the institution has moved towards achieving it goals.
2. Communication: A brand is about an experience not about a product or service. Understand and communicate the validity of that experience to your target audience by creating clear, concise, consistent set of messages about the institutional character and value which is part of the branding process. How can it be translated into a visual format? Make it "you" centric. Make it a single overarching uniform expression of the organizations identity. Make it communicate a brand lived by those who work at and attend your university. Make it an emotionally driven approach that can help create meaningful connections.
3. Stakeholders: Successful implementation of a strategic brand process is dependent on the needs, concerns, inputs, and expectations of the stakeholders. The stakeholders (academic, planning, marketing, faculty, enrollment, staff, development, alumni relations constituents) should be involved, engaged in every step of the brand strategy process. Many institutions are decentralizes and diverse. Conveying your brand image and strategy in an effective and consistent way will take a deliberately coordinated approach to meet shared goals.