Building Brands in Education

Are Universities ready for the transition to consumer power?

When a student chooses a University they aren’t simply choosing a qualification and somewhere appealing to spend the next however many years. They are buying something that will be attached to their own identity for the rest of their lives.

There’s a curious paradox in the apparent identities that Universities project to prospective students, in that they trade predominantly in history and locality, a catalogue of crests and shields, with little apparent reference to why a student should choose one university over another.

Put a collection of higher education websites together, without the names, and I defy anyone to tell the difference.

Moving forward there is likely to be more pressure on competing for students and the need to be distinctive will become more acute. As funding moves away from public subsidy towards student investment, the influence of consumer and brand thinking will become more dominant.

Amongst the issues influencing choice are:

  • The value that a student receives against escalating cost.
  • The emergence of more alternatives to the established precedents.
  • The squeeze on freedom of movement within Europe.
  • The lack of differentiation for graduates within the workplace and a growing need to be vocationally relevant.

A strong clear identity has benefits for both students and organisations. The brand is the outward expression of that clarity of purpose and the ultimate embodiment of the identity to which a student aspires. Having impact and cut through in an increasingly competitive environment will be one of the factors for success. Importantly being the main University in a given city may no longer be enough.

At Haines McGregor we have a range of techniques that recognise the relationship between brands and identities and have worked in education and other service sectors with proven results. To find out more click here to download our 8-step guide covering some of the most innovative tools and techniques available today.