After serving 100 colleges over 25 years, we have learned that the college and university brands that have become schools of consequence embody these best practices:
1. Set a far horizon. It’s about a quiet, steady and ongoing care and feeding of the brand. It’s about cultivating new and better habits. It’s about embodying the mindset of a marathon runner, not a sprinter.
2. Infuse brand essence into every aspect of the institution. Enhancing enrollment operations, student services, career placement, advancement, alumni relations, and community outreach.
3. Bring the campus community along, ensuring a buy-in at every step. Not taking any short cuts.
4. Invest in first impressions. Paying attention to detail at every touch point – tours, website, viewbooks, social media, classrooms, housing, help desk and more.
5. Tell a better story. Telling smart, authentic, real, honest, surprising, and delightful stories — with students, faculty and alumni as heroes.
6. Go long on proofs, short on claims. Putting your energy and effort into creating indisputable truths instead of empty sloganeering.
7. Track the essential metrics. Reviewing year-over-year student quality measures, melt rates, graduation rates, placement rates, giving rates, and reputation metrics.
The most successful college brands not only live these best practices, but they have turned them into living habits.