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ERIC Number: EJ1071766
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Jul-27
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1938-5978
Brand-Building for Innovators
Sametz, Roger
New England Journal of Higher Education, Jul 2015
Not too many years ago, a school's brand just was. Few people used the "b" word. A college or university went about its business, became known for particular strengths and weaknesses, accrued what we would now call brand attributes over time (party school, really hard to get in to, innovative curriculum), and, through word of mouth and its alumni, earned its reputation in the higher ed landscape. Communications and marketing did not play a huge role in the process. Brand, once a concept safely relegated to toothpaste and automobiles, is now a buzzword and a must have in academia. Even if some of those buzzing are not exactly clear what a brand actually is, or how to "get one," they are pretty sure they need one that will help them to survive and thrive. While attending to one's brand should be a high priority for all but the top-tier schools (for which the slow-cooked method has generally worked quite well), brand-building is even more important for those schools focusing on innovation. This article provides pointers for academic institutions focused on innovations, and their response to--or anticipation of--the demographic, market, and financial and societal pressures. The article cautions that developing a different pedagogy, structure, calendar or experience presents an extra step to meeting the branding challenge. Institutions cannot simply strive to be a top contender in an already well-understood category (community college, research university); they must first build understanding around, and value in, their new model--and then trumpet why they are the leader. Recruiting is only part of the challenge, since newer models probably do not have a deep, emotionally committed alumni base to lean on for support. This article offers insight into the process of building a "brand mosaic" that needs to be constructed tile by tile so that it makes sense from different viewing distances. The author suggests that brand-building is a process rather than an event and there is homework involved before institutions go live with their brand. Brand-building also presents multiple opportunities to make new friends, people who will provide invaluable support and advocacy as institutions roll out their brand to the wider community. The author provides the example of disenchanted alumni who have felt alienated from their alma mater but who may soften when they are given the opportunity to voice that discontent--and the chance to be a part of developing the new brand. The article concludes by raising the point that in an era where the costs of both delivering and partaking of an education are under scrutiny, brand-building needs to be looked at, and budgeted as, an investment, rather than an operating expense. Examples of branding cases are provided.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A