The one thing higher education teaches students, and doesn’t practice enough
Perhaps the most important thing that can happen for a student on the campus of a college or university is better understanding who they are as a person. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What makes them unique in the impending job market? What do they value and how do they represent that to others? Simply put, they are defining their brand. Whether they do it consciously or unconsciously they innately understand their brand will help define their choices, inform their decisions and lead them to success. Institutions of higher education benefit from the same self-discovery when defining their brand, and these are three lessons they learn along the way.
Your school is not for everyone
Colleges and Universities offer unique experiences from size, location, campus life, areas of academic focus and institutional support. That uniqueness is exactly why no one school can be the right fit for every student. School pride goes hand-in-hand with student experience. When those and more factors align with an individual student, then their experience is rewarding and they lifelong commitment to the school crystalizes. One of the most difficult positions a college or university can put itself in is to constantly chase ways to work for every student, instead of focusing on being the perfect school for a specific type of student and then focusing on finding those students. In other words, they must get on brand.
Branding isn’t just for the incoming class
When a college or university does define and commit to their brand, they sometimes don’t take it far enough. Branding not only drives the lead generation and outreach campaign for the incoming class, but it also translates across alumni engagement, development campaigns, long-range institutional planning and academic investment. A brand is foundational to revenue and investment across the campus. The vital distinction is that your brand does not determine what you talk about; it frames everything you choose to talk about. Recruitment efforts can focus on student resources and academic opportunities while a capital campaign can evoke the historical legacy of the school. A well-defined and positioned brand allows you to talk to each audience about the topics that are applicable and motivating to them, while remaining universally aligned and reflective of a single institution.
Digital makes branding more important than ever, not less
As academic experiences move online, strong branding combats the commodification of academic experience. The rise of remote learning and the financial challenges of traditional campus-driven experiences can create a false sense of branding having less importance, but the reality is branding aligns your university across all departments and audiences and that makes it more important than ever. What makes your student experience and your educational approach – wherever it takes place – the right fit for the right student is also the recipe for your school’s lifetime value to that student and the subsequent benefits of that school pride become sustaining energy for your future.
As an agency, Jump is a strong advocate for higher education. Our experience branding companies across a number of industries – including higher education – has enhanced our belief that being the right choice for the right person is always better than being the second choice for every person. And it be frank, that’s true of agencies and clients as well.