Ideas, insights and inspirations.

Much like an ill-fitting or dated suit, companies and institutions with out-dated or poorly executed identities need to be aware of the perception their identity has in the markets they serve. Does your identity still fit your organization and what it does? Does it represent who you are? Is it time for a change, and if so, how can you be sure? The best identities help to synthesize and crystallize a brand to their consumers. From cave paintings dated 40,000 years ago to digital marvels created today, it is clear that humanity has, throughout history, continued to visually create symbols to trigger an emotion, a memory, a response. The definition of identity is listed as a condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, that distinguish or identify a person or thing. The importance and power of an identity cannot be understated. While brands speak to the minds and hearts of followers, an identity and its visual … Continue reading

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As I waited in the supermarket checkout lane the other day and took in the tabloid headlines, it occurred to me that fake news isn’t new at all. We’ve been inundated with it for decades. However, given our recent election, it appears that what’s new is that more and more of us are beginning to believe it. I grew up in the 60s and 70s. Many called it the age of skepticism, and given the era we had every right to not accept at face value everything we read, heard and were told. In high school “Skeptic” magazine supplemented my History classes and Social Studies discussions. We were taught how to read between the lines, look for bias, and understand how context and events shape points of view. Somewhere along the way our skepticism has devolved into a willingness to believe. How in the world did this happen? Things began to change in the 80s. Waiting nervously in the lobby … Continue reading

While your faculty and students may have taken the summer off from their college assignments, you know that the work of higher education brand building never ends.  Today, and every day, your college brand continues to do its daily work — on your website, social sites and across the continuum of digital and human conversation. As new and returning students unpack in residence halls and faculty reclaim their offices, it’s a good time of the year to ask: What can we do to renew our college brand for the 2014-2015 academic year? We offer five steps forward: 1. Begin investing in first impressions. That could mean redesigning an initial search mailing aimed at rising high school juniors, or rethinking training for new and returning student tour guides. First brand impressions hold great potential — but can also be overlooked. Given the number of campus visits that students (and parents) make, it’s worth preparing your student guides. Can they really translate … Continue reading

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To higher education marketing pros, April & May is “yield season.” It’s the culmination of all their marketing and relationship-building efforts to convert a suspect to a prospect to an applicant to an admitted student. Yield is the percentage of admitted students who actually decide to enroll. This is a big deal in enrollment marketing – having knowledge of where the yield percentage might fall provides a target of how many students the admissions office needs to, or is willing to, accept. Tracking the tuition deposits as they begin to trickle in is a daily process for admissions, and is why the final piece of marketing communications – the admissions yield piece – is so important. Over the years I have seen all kinds of yield tactics from fact sheets to multi-page brochures. They all seem compelled to give the prospect ‘one more reason’ to consider their school. (As if two years of curated courtship through the admission process has … Continue reading

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Today, we celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. We have created, for the first time in all history, a garden of pure ideology—where each worker may bloom, secure from the pests purveying contradictory truths. Our Unification of Thoughts is more powerful a weapon than any fleet or army on earth. We are one people, with one will, one resolve, one cause. Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion. We shall prevail! Anyone who remembers watching the Super Bowl 29 years ago this week may recognize that speech from the now iconic “1984” TV spot that introduced the Apple Macintosh personal computer. Apple officially aired the original commercial just once, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, about the time that Los Angeles Raiders running back Marcus Allen broke the hearts of every Washington Redskins fan with a 74-yard-long touchdown run. Apple and its agency, Chiat/Day, created … Continue reading

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How do you know when people are really engaged with your brand? Certainly one way to tell is if they stand in line for hours on end for a chance to buy your latest product. But how do you measure it when you are a small, regional college in rural central Pennsylvania? In 1998, my colleagues and I were hired to create a viewbook (shown at right) for, then, Saint Francis College. It was our first “real” venture into the world of higher education marketing. Coming from an advertising background, we naturally began thinking beyond the viewbook – our thoughts focused squarely on branding the college itself and finding “right-fit” students. A not-too-common way of doing a viewbook back then. Okay, so this in and of itself is hardly news – or even blog worthy – but the rest of the story is, well, pretty interesting. So fast forward to 2012 and you’ll find Saint Francis University – not College. You’ll discover … Continue reading

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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 – … Continue reading

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