Look, there goes your brand.

Suddenly it’s very quiet.

How would you react if 25% of your active customer base got up and left on the same day?
Would you become concerned? Perhaps, if you’re a business owner. But not if you’re a college enrollment manager, right? Because it’s commonplace. It’s commencement, and students are leaving in droves right now across every college campus in America.

So what about this newly graduated 25% that everyone has in common? What are they taking with them: Degree? Check. Confidence? Check. Knowledge? Check. New skills? Check. Life-long friendships? Check. A deep affinity with the school? Hope so. Brand message? Huh?

Too many institutions treat their brand message simply as a marketing campaign. Without question, it can be a campaign and can contribute to solving many urgent marketing issues like boosting enrollment, attracting new faculty, or funding a capital campaign. Still, that’s selling it a bit short.

The best institutions treat their brand as something more – an ethos – something that represents what they inherently believe. To them the brand represents an ideal, something the world needs more of. The messages are simple and built on an “intrinsic” differential no one else has. And then the utmost care is taken to demonstrate this brand differential at every opportunity. In short, the best institutions take this seriously. In doing so they bring more “right-fit” prospects to their door – and they stay. Because the messages are real and prospects discover – for themselves – that it isn’t just marketing.

Brand experiences like this set the stage for creating a life-long relationships built on trust and love. Yes, love. If you build your brand on who you are and why you exist – not simply what you offer – your constituents will love you. Your constituents, will in fact, become the brand.

The best brands brand their users, not their products.

So rejoice. Today you lost 25% of your population. If you taught with passion, led with conviction, if your purpose was clearly understood, and if you took time to build trust at every opportunity; then you have 25% percent more passionate brand ambassadors in the world today than you did yesterday. Congratulations, there goes your brand!

If not, well, then there goes your brand.