Branding in education - some perspective


Like any form of branding, Higher Education branding is your opportunity to get out there and strut your stuff to your chosen audience. It allows you to clearly and consistently show people who you are, and what you stand for. And, with the various pressures and challenges facing today’s institutions, a thoughtfully devised and beautifully executed HE brand can give you the edge. It cements your identity, demystifies your offering, identifies your strengths and uses them to your full advantage.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to underestimate the importance of branding in education, thinking of it as perhaps as a ‘nice to have’ added luxury, without a great deal of tangible benefit. Far from it! A Higher Education brand can make the difference between reaching the right audience at the right time, or continually shouting into the void. But as always – data is key. Built upon the right combination of audience insight, strategy and market research, a good brand can take your institution from relative obscurity to the forefront of your sector.

All of our clients’ brands have been devised to deliver meaningful and impactful results, and to appeal to both external and internal audiences. The research phase of our trusty 6-step process taps into our clients’ markets – finding out who their competitors are and how their USPs match up. These results then inform new objectives – identifying the right targets and shaping obtainable aspirations. By showing our clients exactly who’s tuning into their brand and what they’re being presented with, we can help them refine their narrative and give them a voice that people can identify with.

Take Bournemouth University. They came to use with the challenge of finding out how key stakeholders and international universities saw them. While they’d invested plenty in their candidate messaging and attraction campaigns, they hadn’t quite got to grips with the role of influencers in the decision-making process, and were in need of some perspective. So, we dived into our research. We carried out focus groups, qual and quant surveys, telephone interviews and more. We then took our findings and compiled an in-depth report which we presented at board level.

The immediate difference our research made can be seen in BU’s brand, which has been defined and developed with our findings and recommendations in mind. Our project has also played a large part in the development of their new marketing strategy, which will feed into the University’s 2025 plan. By presenting Bournemouth with a clear and striking picture of their brand perception, they were able to fine-tune their narrative and get their improved brand in front of the right audiences. Which just goes to show, a bit of Higher Education branding goes a long way.