BFT International’s experience with universities and colleges dates back to 1990. We’ve worked with a wide range of higher education institutes. It is the ‘wide range’ that is vital. Only having experience in one sector of the overall higher education marketplace results in not being able to compare the way in which different institutions attract their student body. Deciding students are bombarded with promotional material from a huge array of universities. This wide range of experience enables us to bring fresh thinking into play.
Current and team experience
A seat of higher learning particularly represents a complicated mix of branding elements
Internally, the multi-faceted balance of its administration, its faculty and its students and, externally, the knowledge and perceptions of its accepted standards, its resultant quality of higher education and its input into its region’s economic development. Indeed, our specific work in the economic development field is a further area that many higher education institutes incorporate in their marketing brief.
When implementing any marketing for a higher education institution, the need to listen is paramount. Under the guidance of our prime contact, we go out of our way to listen and encompass the views of every possible university department. Otherwise there is a real danger of dissent as a campaign progresses.
What does the culmination of all this knowledge and experience mean for a higher education institute?
It means that we will ‘hit the ground running’ from day one of our appointment with no need for a time-consuming or potentially expensive learning curve. We understand a college or university’s need to work with a marketing team that totally appreciates not only the overt aspects of the institute, but also its unique and more subtle characteristics that define its beneficial offerings.
The identities of colleges and universities (their Brand Personalities) are initially built within their own community. The greater task is differentiating themselves to the outside world and, ironically, until recent times the best known institutions (which might not be the largest) have not undertaken significant brand promotion. This is now changing—both major and smaller colleges have entered the higher education promotional marketplace with varying degrees of impact. A key fact often missed is that for any higher education brand campaign to be successful its marketing objectives have to be woven throughout the entire campus (or campuses). This is particularly true of alumni activity. A proud alumni, talking about his/her higher education, will state the university’s name by the third sentence.
The main brand
The brand logo is the institution’s ‘flag’ to the outside world…its graphic brand statement that positions it in the marketplace. When potential students visit, it is imperative that the promise evident in the brand logo is equally evident across all aspects of the campus. Because students are not attracted only by academic excellence, and talk to each other about their plans, subtle negatives can turn a potential student away from a particular institution.
Sub-brands are often an integral part of an organization’s overall brand identity—and that is never more true than within a university. If a department can theoretically justify that it represents the college or university to the outside world, then it may well have a case for being a sub-brand in its own right—athletics departments being a prime example. We understand the subtleties and personalities involved and are adept at ensuring the overall brand is maintained within the bounds of a college or university’s set Communication Guidelines.