This is the second of a three-part series of blogs about evaluating brand effectiveness.

In my previous blog about brand effectiveness, I discussed the broad dimensions of brand evaluation: awareness and perceptions and commerce.

3 Approaches to Evaluate Brand Effectiveness

Now it’s time to discuss three different approaches used to evaluate brand effectiveness.

1. Repeat Baseline Research

The first approach to brand evaluation involves repeating the audience research that should have been done as part of your brand development process. This research established a baseline that shows current awareness and perceptions among key audiences.

Your brand and brand campaign are designed to move your audiences from that current state, to a desired state.

This type of brand evaluation will not only tell you whether your brand has traction in the minds (and hearts) of your audience, but it will also give your insight into their media habits and channel preferences which will help you further refine your message strategy.

If you never repeat a baseline study, you will never know if your brand is effective and you may never be able to properly communicate to students.

2. Measure Brand Utility

As I noted in the previous blog, your brand should positively impact the flow of resources to your institution. The key is to establish a baseline (there’s that word again) for each of the discrete measures below and others that are pertinent to your business goals.

[In case you missed part 1 in this series: Broad Dimensions of Brand Evaluation in Higher Ed]

An increasing number of schools opt to create a visual dashboard to enhance their understanding of these data. Many of these dashboard key performance indicators (KPIs) should be expressed as specific brand goals in your larger brand plan.

From a recruiting/retention perspective, a strong brand should help:

  • Enhance your ability to recruit the number of students you need
  • Enhance your ability to shape your class on such issues as academic quality, academic interest, ethnicity, and geographic diversity
  • Control both the quality and quantity of incoming students
  • Lower your recruiting costs
  • Increase net tuition, yield, and retention
  • Increase positive word-of-mouth (social media, traditional media, etc.)

From an advancement perspective, a strong brand should help:

  • Increase the number of new and recurring donors
  • Move donors up the giving pyramid
  • Reduce the cost of raising a dollar
  • Increase the number of alumni who give and the average size of their gift
  • Increase the number of new donors and foundations that seek you out

From an institutional perspective, a strong brand should help:

  • Recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff
  • Increase faculty and staff support for your annual funds and capital campaigns
  • Increase overall media interest, attention, and buzz

One important reminder: While showing progress on one or more of these measures is an indicator that your brand is working, it is very difficult to isolate the impact that other processes, procedures, and events might have on these measures so proving direct causality is difficult.

Related: A New View of the College Education Lifecycle

3. Tuition Pricing Elasticity and Brand Value Study™

The third measure of brand effectiveness involves undertaking a Tuition Pricing Elasticity and Brand Value Study™ to determine how much your brand influences a student’s desire to attend and pay for an education at your institution.

In many respects, a tuition pricing study melds both awareness research and an evaluation of your brand’s utility. This means that a pricing study will show you:

  • The dollar value prospective students and parents ascribe to your brand
  • How changes in your brand will impact tuition levels (i.e., published price, net cost, and discounting) and enrollment
  • The brand associations that are of particular interest and value to prospective students and parents
  • How prospective students and parents compare your brand against your competitors’ brands

When you consider what type of brand evaluation to pursue, it’s important to take a step back and ask a few questions:

  • What evaluation(s) have you done in the past?
  • Where is your brand now (e.g., in need of refresh)?
  • What are the most important factors you need to evaluate?
  • Where do you want your brand and institution to be in the future?

Those questions will help you identify timeliness and need for a brand evaluation.

If you have any questions, please contact Patrick for more information.

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