“A brand is more than a logo, and it’s not just for marketing materials and websites; it’s a rallying cry and an aspiration for the entire university community. It’s inextricably linked to the institution’s overall strategy, and it should be present in everything from classes to events to architecture to publications.” – Forbes
The advent and growth of digital media has significantly broadened the scope of educational marketing over the past decade. Never before has understanding the need for effectively connecting the cross-platform dots been quite as significant for educational lead generation. The essential principle is still the same as it has always been. The problem now is not just about having a powerful brand, but using and applying it consistently.
Branding Begins With Value
Zenith Electronics not only grasped the need to communicate value in branding, they created a slogan that said it: “The quality goes in before the name goes on.” Value is intrinsic. A good logo and slogan clearly communicate that intrinsic value. To do that, educational institutions must first clearly define the values they want to communicate. Wired.com got it right when they called this a discovery process. “During the discovery process … [institutions] get into the meat of who they are. When you go through this process, in many cases, it brings up questions about the [institution] itself that haven’t really been answered.”
Wired.com noted that it is during this discovery process that questions arise about the institution itself that haven’t really ever been answered.
Branding Must Be Distinctive
Entrepreneur.com sagely pointed out that “Your goal is to own a position in the customer’s mind so that they think of you differently than the competition.” Assuming that an institution has a recognized logo, it must be easily associated with the slogan, and that slogan should be a distinctive value statement. That is why we said that the institution’s values must be clearly defined, in terms of what it means for the institution and for its prospective audience. “Excellence in Education” sounds great, but it is only maximally effective if the school has defined what “excellent” means.
Defining the values as unique qualities is the cornerstone upon which various elements of a marketing strategy can be effectively deployed.
Branding Must Be Consistently Deployed
Consistent deployment of the branding elements is what connects the dots for lead generation. Whatever the platform – email, social media, banners, letterheads, tweets, direct mail, texts, websites, blogs, advertising – the power of brand recognition and what it means continues to be impressed on the minds of the target audience. This is essential.
The Forbes article quoted at the top of this post concluded:
“For colleges and universities, branding is an investment that perpetuates itself in the continued matriculation of the most qualified and best-suited students. Whether the institution measures its return on that investment in a higher ranking, a lower acceptance rate, a greater yield, a bigger endowment, a higher average starting salary, a better grad-school admission rate, or a greater percentage of alumni who donate, the student body it attracts initially is integral to any and all results. Colleges and universities, much like their applicants, have to showcase and prove their value to decision makers. Those with the strongest brands will undoubtedly rise to the forefront and continue to own the decision.“
The essence of an effective branding message and its consistent use are all too often misunderstood. “The strongest brands will undoubtedly … own the lead conversion decision.” Tribeca Marketing Group specializes in higher education branding, marketing and lead generation. Please accept our invitation to contact us and let us show you how we can help your multi-platform lead generation program through more effective branding.
Lou Gutheil writes about a wide variety of subjects, including investments, immigration, technology, NGOs, and, of course, higher education marketing.