Your brand already exists.
Your brand is the foremost expression of your college or university. It’s the lens through which you invite the world to view your work, your product, your significance. Many colleges and universities struggle to create a distinct brand. In truth, brands are not created. They exist, and it’s just a matter of defining and expressing them. Here’s how we’d suggest you get there.
Listen to everybody, and listen to nobody. It is not what—or who—you listen to that’s important, but what you are listening for. Brands are not built by yearly campaigns, but by long-term institutional vision and enthusiastic, loyal customers. What do people love about you?
Everyone knows differentiation is critical. But you also need to build common ground with your constituency. So be yourself. Think about the intrinsic brand value you offer. This will create a cycle of self-selection from a prospect base that is pre-disposed to accept your message.
An orange is an orange is an orange. Unless of course it’s a Sunkist. The object of branding isn’t to turn your orange into an apple, but to make it the most flavorful orange it can be. Don’t just talk about your brand, sing about it. Reach out, excite and engage your prospects and they’ll sing about it too.
Getting the attention of your constituency is only part of the battle. The critical part is living up to the messages you promote. This is where most brands fail. It just makes sense to build your brand on what you intrinsically believe and support. Commit your organization to “be the brand.”
Building a strong, influential brand is not a project with a beginning and an end—there is no end. If you are to build a brand that lasts, then be in it for the long haul and don’t waiver. Constantly listen to your channels, customers and influencers to make sure your messages are on point and being understood. And then, if necessary, refine and adjust.
In the end, your brand will be much stronger, more appealing, and more relatable if the process you employ allows the brand ethos to rise organically.