January 16, 2018
Oddly, one of the great challenges of building a great brand is more likely internal than marketplace.
It is not that leaders are against branding, it’s just that some don’t know where brand building fits on their queue of “important things we need to do.”
Let me spend a few minutes explaining why brand building should be moved up the queue. Or for some schools, even just added to the queue.
First, brands are not about art. Rather, they are about commerce. Few things will have more of an impact on your revenue streams than a compelling brand.
Great brands attract people and resources (read that as students and donors). Talented students and engaged donors are much more likely to attend and support a college or university with strong brand awareness. The media is more likely to call and co-branding opportunities are more likely to present themselves.
Second, great brands lay the groundwork for effective direct marketing. Your audiences are much more likely to respond to your lead and demand generation campaigns when they are preceded by an effective brand strategy.1
Third, strong brands revitalize and engage alumni, enhance alumni giving, and often serve as precursors to successful capital campaigns.
Strong brands require strong leadership support.
There is a significant correlation between a strong brand and strong leadership support for the brand.
And while this leadership may manifest itself in myriad ways, here are three that are critical: 1) political support, especially as you seek to integrate the brand across various campus entities; 2) budget support; and 3) a commitment to continually align your experience with your brand message.
Finally, recognizing that your faculty and staff are aging, a highly visible brand will help you attract the future talent you will need. Increasingly, talent wants to work at places that are known.
Even these few brand outcomes should help you understand the strategic importance of building a compelling, visible brand.
And in an age where so many things are unpredictable and transient, the strength and power and value of a compelling brand have never been more welcome.
1Demand generation and lead generation are often used interchangeably. And while there are similarities between the two, there are also some differences especially as marketers will strive to generate demand and convert visitors into leads. Too often, marketers try to use the same content to accomplish these goals. It is better to develop parallel, even symbiotic content in which the first message or campaign supports the second.