Colleges and universities are rebranding themselves at an increasing rate. Here are a five common reasons for a brand makeover:
1. “We need to reach new frontiers.” We want to widen the nexus, expand our reach, grab new markets, seek new revenue streams.
2. “The world has changed and we are still relevant.” The world has changed dramatically and what people value has changed. We need to articulate the brand value and brand experience for the new zeitgeist. The old skin needs to be shed and we need a new skin.
3. “The competitors have changed and we are still relevant.” New competitors are dancing in our stomping grounds. Old competitors have reimagined themselves. We need to re-articulate the brand value and brand experience to reposition our brand.
4. “We have changed and we are now more relevant than ever.” We have added new centers of excellence, forged new partnerships, created new divisions, formed new schools. We need to modernize our antiquated name. There is a new “us” and the world doesn’t know about our new essence yet.
5. “We want to increase our endowment.” By re-imagining, re-focusing, re-energizing, we stand a better chance at lifting our endowments. If Harvard can do it, so can we.
The world is so dynamic and complex that at any given time, all five reasons could be in the mix. Internet and online delivery has flattened the world. Competitors are certainly not sitting still. New online players are entering the space. Colleges are constantly evolving. Economics is changing the definition of value. Inter-generational changes are redefining the concept of what prospects value.
Whatever the reason, branding a college and university has come of age because over 4,000 of them are clamoring for attention. With branding, colleges are trying to answer a few simple questions. What’s our essence? What makes us special? Why are we relevant? Why would someone cast their economic vote with us? Not an easy task.