March 1, 2016
You’ve been asked, or will ask someone, to write a brand marketing plan for you. Before you begin, however, I suggest that you take a short institutional self-test to see if you are ready:
Has your senior leadership team publicly declared their support for brand marketing? Have they offered political support? And they must be willing to nudge the recalcitrant.
Does your brand promise flow from your vision? Is it compelling to both internal and external audiences? For a different take on the issue of compelling, take a look at the work by Michael Porter on competitive advantage.
In other words, does the brand plan integrate or dovetail with the individual plans developed by academics, admissions, advancement, alumni, and athletics?
Actually, the term is “invest,” not “spend.” Chances are you will rely more on reallocated dollars than new dollars. But regardless of the source of your dollars, make sure the resource commitment is consistent with the task at hand. As you think about budget, remember that it must anticipate a number of variables, including:
Anything less and things just won’t have enough time to gain traction.
Have we identified the audiences that will have the greatest impact on our ability to reach our goals?
If you don’t know how you are currently perceived, how can you know where to start your brand-building efforts? In addition, solid audience research will establish an important initial baseline against which to measure progress.
I know it is counterintuitive, but it is better to “own” a smaller geography than have a marginal presence in a larger one. Focus.
I recommend the 70-20-10 formula:
The only way to evaluate the effectiveness of your brand strategy is to repeat the research that helped you identify initial baseline awareness. Other measures of brand equity include a reduction in the cost of recruiting a student or raising a dollar; greater ability to shape your class; and positive word-of mouth among your alumni, friends, and the media.