How Can Universities Build Their Brands?

Students in higher education today have an array of choices when it comes to selecting the university provides the best fit for their needs.

Ivy League schools and the Big 10 always have a waiting list of hopeful admission candidates. Their iconic brands are legendary, characterized by academic excellence, elitism, and selectivity.

State universities and private colleges competing for the same students have to build a brand to attract their students. The question is, “How can universities build their brands?”

The marketing strategy that works

Colleges and universities can no longer exist as separate ivory towers that wait for hopeful students to tap at the admissions door.

Smart universities have discovered their focus, and they promote that niche at every opportunity. Purdue University has the OWL Writing Lab, and Dartmouth University offers education leadership advice. MIT provides open courseware – free classes that anyone can take. These schools deliver complementary services, and the quality of information piques the interest of prospective students.

Providing useful content is a typical business to business (B2B) strategy designed to convert prospective clients into customers. Universities can do the same thing by curating content that helps prospective candidates take the next step in enrolling.

Take advantage of cross-platform marketing

Decades ago, all of the marketing materials for higher education were printed. Bound undergraduate and graduate catalogs described courses and outlined degree plans. Glossy pictures portrayed idyllic campus life.

Today’s marketing, however, exists in several formats and across many platforms, including a website, video channel, and social media sharing tools.

Universities that develop a consistent and easily recognized brand, complete with consistent colors and stylized logos, are on their way to building a universally recognized names.

Be the brand

A brand is more than an attractive logo or clever videos.

Authentic branding takes place when the brand permeates the job of everyone on campus. If your university values stewardship, then your work should demonstrate stewardship at every level, whether you are teaching or conducting research.

Marketing and branding exist in a vacuum if the college leadership and faculty do not get behind the brand. The school’s mission must be something that every employee can articulate and model in every interaction they have with the public.

These three brand-building strategies aren’t the only way to build a college name, but they can get universities started on the right path to creating a consistent definition of their role in higher education.



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