Imagine sitting down to begin your next marketing project with an full set of brand-aligned assets at your fingertips. We’re talking photographs, videos, or a collection of targeted interviews ready to become published or digital profiles—all perfectly supporting your cause. Sure would make the process go a lot faster and more smoothly.

But realistically, does that ever happen? Well, it can, if you’re prepared to take a couple of steps back in order to leap forward.

Before you jump to tactical executions, however, you need to start with a centering brand idea. Every institution has an emotional core that makes your school feel different from your competitor down the road. It’s informed by tradition, current students, faculty, location, facilities, and by vision. An intimate understanding of this (along with a little objective research) will allow you to develop an accurate and compelling core creative concept that will consistently guide all outward facing marketing materials.

With the big idea in hand, how do you successfully move from creative concept to specific marketing tactics? Through something we refer to as “brand creative.” Consider it a touchstone full of creative elements that will serve as a guide to developing a library of brand-aligned assets that will not only make individual projects go more smoothly and quickly, but also be extremely helpful in consistently projecting your brand, externally and internally.

Since it’s one of the most visible assets, let’s take photography as an example. Your brand creative would provide a vision to start developing an image library by:

  • Showing the connection of brand-aligned images with other brand components—how photography supports the big picture
  • Encouraging stylistic brand-level thinking photographically
  • Forcing content consideration and shoot planning
  • Serving as a communication tool with photographers
  • Illustrating how to represent individuals in profiles

So take a step or two back and put together a brand creative guide so you can start building libraries of brand-aligned assets. It may seem difficult to work into your busy schedule, but in the end, you’ll be able to produce marketing materials much more quickly, with beautiful, consistent assets that represent your institution.

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