Relying on standardized branding methodologies holds you back. Learn how to build a useful brand strategy that’s right for your school. Relying on standardized branding methodologies holds you back. Learn how to build a useful brand strategy that’s right for your school.

Just as you visit the doctor with a WebMD diagnosis in your head, a lot of higher education institutions go to their creative agency requiring a list of brand platform fill-in-the-blanks because they’ve self-diagnosed, or they’ve got a methodology they’ve used in the past.

There are literally hundreds of brand strategy methodologies out there, and a quick Google search will tell you that. Which leads higher ed. marketers asking questions that are hard to answer. “Do we need a pyramid or a placemat? A brand promise or a brand essence? What’s the difference between them all?

Elements such as brand promise, brand essence, brand values and vision statements are mainstays on checklists of standardized and formulaic brand building methodologies. And these items often appear as mandatory inclusions in RFP’s we receive from colleges and universities. If you’re a higher ed. marketer, you’re no doubt accustomed to seeing similar checklists from agencies outlining their own methodologies.

The danger in following anything prescribed is that your branding project becomes an exercise in fitting irregularly shaped pegs into square holes. You’ll paint yourself into a corner from which it’ll be more than difficult to extricate yourself.

Our experience has demonstrated clearly that branding for higher education institutions requires an approach that doesn’t adhere to paint-by-numbers branding methodologies and tenets.

It’s time to let go of what you think your brand needs — and learn what’s really going to turn heads, drive up enrolment numbers, and build your credibility with skeptic stakeholders.

In this whitepaper, we’ll talk about:

  • Why a prescribed methodology with a common list of deliverables won’t get you anywhere
  • A divergent methodology that digs into what your higher ed. brand strategy needs
  • Three mechanisms your brand strategy can’t live without
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Marketing higher education institutions is different than marketing any other product or service. You exist for your students to learn, grow, and eventually, change the world.

Therefore, capturing your institution’s essence and distilling it into novel ideas, visceral images and effectual messages can’t be effectively executed by heading straight to a request for paint-by-numbers brand methodology. But it’s a trap in which many institutions find themselves caught because those standard branding exercises and uninspired lists of tenets are “how it’s always been done.”

Standard branding methodology assumes you must receive a brand promise, a list of brand values, perhaps also a brand character description and brand essence. Any Google search can help you form that catalog of branding buzzwords. But a catalogue alone can’t get to the heart of what’s really needed for your specific institution.

Understanding and speaking to your stude