How universities should build their brand identity

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With the thriving number of students enrolling into universities, everyone is search for the key component that will help them to attain their desired career, and to do that they will have to make the appropriate university choice.

Therefore, ensuring that your institution be distinct is fundamental to attracting students. At present, branding plays a critical role in marketing strategy of any university, particularly if that institution is not as well-established. Developing a substantial identity is the optimum mean to interest students as it helps to bolster any advertising messages and drives uniqueness which makes an institution stands out from the rest. Taking into account the most outstanding organisations; they all have a unique characteristic that they are known for.

The branding and slogans for most universities are relatively similar. They tend to highlight references to the institution being “unique” or “different” or “right for the student”, without any explicit reference as to why that is. University marketing needs to distinctively affirm what exactly it is that makes that place the ideal place for students, and to do this they require a concrete brand identity.

To make certain that your institution is distinct, you will need to place emphasis on what exactly makes it unique and create a brand identity around it. There are several factors to take into consideration such as strengths, history, location, student ‘niches’.

The first step is to determine the unique selling points of your institutions. What in particular do they excel at?

It could be a certain area of study, a certain degree which only that university offers, a certain course which is recognised in the higher education sector, or a department which is well respected. It could be of relevance to an aspect of the study, such as an emphasis on work experience, practical degree elements or fieldwork, which may help students when they begin their job search.

It could be the “student experience” which makes a university stands out from the rest: possibly there is an emphasis on study abroad, student exchanges, extra-curricular activities or contact time with lecturers. Alternatively, it could be the resources provided by the institution that makes a university shine through. Anything from research facilities, to libraries and art collections and so forth can help to develop a solid brand identity.

The fundamental is identifying the true strengths of your university.

In addition, for ancient universities, history is an important element of a university’s appeal. Look at the specific area’s in which your institution is located and determine if that has a certain influence on what you are offering. It is also desirable to push for prominent geographical, historical and cultural locations and events in proximity which may be of interest to students.

Finally, if there is a certain student niche which a university provides, this can be a strong focal point when establishing a brand identity. An extremely high number of mature students, international students or part-time students can all help to attract others in similar setting. By zooming in on the benefits this portrays, such as heightened staff awareness of issues faced by those demographics, extra resources available and the comfort for students being kept abreast that they will fit in, marketers can successfully develop an identity which assumes the role of the student body.

By observing these factors, university marketing teams can successfully develop a unique brand identity that accurately illustrates what their institution offers. This honesty and openness is the ideal method to attract students, and will help differentiate a university from a crowded marketplace.

Source: QS 

Participate in the upcoming QS in conversation – Lithuania under the theme of “Enhancing Visibility through International Cooperation: Mobility, Recognition and Branding” from 14-15 October 2019 in Kaunas, Lithuania.