University Branding: How Colleges Utilize Their Brand (and How You Can Too!)


December 9, 2014


University Branding: How Colleges Utilize Their Brand (and How You Can Too!) image CMO Infographic Half

As universities improve their digital marketing, they are adopting strategies that also apply to the business world. Higher ed branding is becoming more sophisticated and targeted. Although their audience and sales funnels are different from the typical small business, universities can offer high-performing solutions to standard marketing problems.

Establish clear leadership

Recent research by Formstack shows that clear leadership plays a critical role in marketing. Executives set goals and create momentum for their entire organization. One of their most important roles is setting the strategic plan for their college. For example, marketing teams with Chief Marketing Officers are 49% more likely to have a strategic plan than those without CMOs.

Regardless of their title, a marketing executive is an essential part of a successful marketing department. Without vision from a leader, a marketing department will be reactive and random in its brand and messaging. Even if a small business does not have an executive-level marketing leader, it is important to have a leader who casts the vision for his or her department.

Work towards brand consistency

Higher ed marketing departments tend to have unique structures. They might be combined with other departments, such as public relations, development, or admissions. Similarly, many small businesses are staffed with people wearing several hats. You may not have a designated marketing department, which can make it difficult to maintain brand consistency.

To solve this problem, marketers must prioritize their brand across all channels. Strategic marketing leaders must include brand consistency among their larger goals. There is always room for improvement: 45% of higher ed professionals want their university’s brand to take a higher priority. Maintaining a consistent voice and brand recognition are required among marketing executives, no matter what your industry.

Be willing to grow your team

A strong marketing team needs to be large enough to attain its goals. Otherwise, you risk your team being overwhelmed and overworked. If marketers are too strapped for time, they will struggle and avoid taking risks. Fifty-six percent of colleges with CMOs have teams of 11 or more people. These colleges show their priorities by creating a well-staffed team.

As an added bonus, large teams can include specialized roles such as social media marketer, data analyst, or brand specialist. While small departments can still get the job done, larger teams are able to move more quickly and accomplish multiple goals at once.

Use customizable marketing tools

Universities marketing leadership are 21% more likely to implement high-performing technology. The impact of marketing technology can be seen in time-saving and increasing engagement among potential customers. Marketing tools allow you to create branded emails, online forms, and more. Not only can you easily manage prospective and current customers, you can do it without compromising your brand.

Using marketing automation tools helps to streamline the recruiting and nurturing process. The most popular areas for marketing automation include email marketing, social media management, analytics, and online forms. Marketing automation allows marketers to increase productivity while maintaining brand integrity.

Maintain attention to the brand

Any small business knows that establishing a brand can take a lot of effort. But with the right leadership, vision, and tools, maintaining your brand can be a bit easier. Making your brand a high priority pays off in the long run. For a creative way of looking at marketing, take a page from successful colleges’ brand strategies.

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