I saw Spielberg’s movie “Lincoln” over Thanksgiving weekend. Wonderful screenplay by Tony Kushner and amazing acting by Daniel Day Lewis, Sally Fields and Tommy Lee Jones. I was struck by the parallels between Lincoln’s strategies for consensus building and the branding work we do for Christian colleges.
To me, Lincoln was brilliant at holding tension between sometimes competing and at other times opposing forces. Branding a Christian college is similar in that we have to balance the college’s mission with God’s mission, appeal to prospects who are Christian and prospects from other faiths, attract prospects from various denominations of Christianity, and persuade faithful and secular alike. Not an easy task, but our team at Elliance has slowly mastered the art of digging deeply into the histories of various Christian denominations to find the common ground which is distinct enough and yet broad enough to hold the tensions between all these forces.
Lincoln was also a master politician and engaged in horsetrading at all levels to do the right thing. Our task of selling a college brand to the cabinet and faculty is not that different. Even though a college brand largely lives in the hearts and minds of students, alumni, parents and representatives of the church we have to delicately work through the wants, biases and idiosyncrasies of the cabinet and the faculty senate. This requires Lincoln’s masterful ability to sell ideas through people. Not easy, yet essential.
Judge for yourself and give us a shout if you think we succeeded at holding the tension with our work for St. Edward’s University and Saint Leo University, both regional Christian colleges which have successfully extended their reach to prospects from across the faith and geographic spectrum.
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