June 25, 2019
This is the first of a three-part series of blogs about evaluating brand effectiveness. Great brands are engaging and inspiring—they captivate audiences, shape reputation and fuel awareness. Your brand is the most influential factor shaping how prospective students and parents, community members, and peer and aspirational institutions view you, make their choices, and become loyal brand ambassadors for your institution.
Given the potential impact of brand and the highly competitive nature of higher ed recruitment and advancement today, it’s more important than ever to continually evaluate the effectiveness of your brand strategies. In many respects, continuous evaluation is necessary to ensure your authentic identity is relevant and compelling to everchanging scrutiny from students, parents, and other key audiences. Using market research—whether qualitative or quantitative—is a valuable component of evaluation that can validate or guide modifications for your school’s brand strategies, from a simple brand refresh to a complete re-branding or repositioning initiative.
Most brands are evaluated along two broad dimensions: awareness and perceptions (through consumer insights) and commerce (or resources). First, because brands exist in consumers’ minds and not marketplaces, measuring changes in target audience awareness and perceptions is central to evaluating brand effectiveness. This is crucial to gathering insights from key audiences, such as prospective students and parents, prospective donors and even prospective employees about your school’s perceived reputation, competitive position and the distinctive characteristics and the authenticity of your brand that define who your school is, why it exists in the world, and what it stands for.
Quantifying and tracking your brand’s utility, or ability to positively influence this flow, is the second critical measure of brand effectiveness. Internally, brand outcomes are more about commerce (also known as generating revenue and goodwill) and less about art. A constant end goal is to increase the flow of resources to any institutions. While these resources can be expressed in dollars (think students and donors), they can also be less tangible and include public and media attention and the ability to recruit and retain top faculty and staff.
Taking time to reflect these dimensions is an important part of beginning the process of examining the effectiveness of your institution’s brand. And, evaluating and measuring brand effectiveness is critical to remaining authentic, relevant and competitive well into the future. If you have any questions, please contact Patrick for more information.