Building Your College or University Brand!

5 Ways Brand Building Benefits Your University for the Long Run

As a College or University, you know how challenging it is competing for quality students with other schools, employers, military recruiters and more. You also know how important it is that you connect with the best potential students who fit your community, your academic programs, your environment, your student life and so much more. Building your Brand purposefully and well, will definitely help you in this process!  

What is Brand?

For a college or university your brand is the overall perception of your school by your prospective students, current students, faculty and staff. 

 “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” -Jeff Bezos

In other words, your brand is your reputation. The good news is that you can build your brand and live into the reputation you want to have. The harder news is that university branding requires time and effort in order to successfully build the brand that works well and benefits you. 

The best way to build your brand is to make sure that your messaging closely aligns with your students’ and your employees’ experiences of your school. The most effective brand building occurs through a three step process by which you accurately isolate your best attributes through getting in touch with your institution’s inner self.

Step 1: Uncover your Identity

Step 2: Define your Brand Strategy 

Step 3: Market Your New Brand

If you are interested in more ideas about this process visit us at For this newsletter we will focus on exploring the benefits of the branding process.  

What are the Benefits of University Branding Campaigns?

Committing your College/University to a Branding process, like the Branding Workshops offered by zo agency, will benefit you in an untold number of ways. We will focus on five specific benefits.

1- Get you Laser focused (unearth your University’s Passion)! 

Successful brands have powerful purposes behind then. Passion is what gets you out of bed every morning loving to serve your students, employees and community. Higher education is an obvious focus, but what are your specialties, what do you want to instill in every student through learning and experience during their time at your school?

These three questions will help you become laser focused:

  • Why does our university exist?
  • What role do we serve in our society, culture, community?
  • Why should anyone who attends or works here care?

Learning or renewing the WHY of your existence as a university will benefit everyone involved in or affiliated with your institution including the alumni and the community. 

“People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek

2- Help you Differentiate from your competitors

College and University branding campaigns will ask you to research and understand your most likely competitors for the same pool of incoming students. Choose 3-4 and start asking questions about them: 

  • What are their strengths? 
  • What are the quality of these colleges’ academic programs, campus life, extracurricular activities or special focuses?
  • Do these colleges have student reviews or social posts we can read?
  • How do these universities market their degree programs both online and offline?

In the process you will also have the opportunity to compare your own university to those being researched and you will quickly uncover the ways your university can differentiate itself from them. Your uniqueness is what you want to highlight and bring to your Brand!

3- Unify your College/University Community

A Branding workshop will get your vital personnel working together to forge a unified brand for your college. The beauty of this kind of group process is that it can and often does bring tremendous unity to your college community. People work together to unearth the uniqueness of your college programs, community and environment. And in the process they renew their sense of commitment to the institution as a whole. 

We can’t promise that everything will become, “Kum Bah Yah” while holding hands and roasting marshmallows. However we can promise that involving key representatives from all aspects of your university in the process of rediscovering the uniqueness and renewing the passion of your college or university will create a unity of purpose that will have long lasting benefits.

4- Engage your Employees 

One of the most vital of these benefits will be the engagement of your employees in this new direction and vision. There are some startling statistics about the importance and impact that “branding” work has on company culture and operational health that are easily transferable to a college or university environment. 

  • 4X more successful than “like” companies or competitors who have no clarity in messaging, positioning, and brand identity
  • Employees are 40% less likely to be absent
  • 40% better overall quality of work
  • 10% better overall customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty
  • 17% increase in productivity
  • 20% increase in sales
  • 21% increase in profitability

Engaged and productive employees are the result of belief in the mission and alignment in values. By clearly defining for our employees why we exist, who we serve, and how we will work together to fulfill these essentials we will increase engagement. 

Forbes defines the engaged employee as one who is passionate about the brand, believes in its mission, and shares its values.

5- Attract the Right Students

Ultimately for a college or university the bottom line is a higher education for the student body. The methods, values, essential elements, philosophies around that education will differ widely and will be what defines your specific university.  Settling on a unified purpose that differentiates your university from its closest competitors is one of the most effective ways to understand what kind of students are most likely to thrive in your environment and help you target those students in your marketing strategies.

Who can argue with attracting a higher percentage of the right students to your university? The right student just means any student who is looking for the education programs, the student-teacher ratio, the community life, the sports programs, the arts programs, the philosophical emphases, the facilities, etc., that you have or have identified as essential to your university or college.

“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”

Seth Godin

Final Step

The final step in your university branding is to use what you have discovered in your marketing strategies to prospective students. When done right you will wind up with not just more students, but more students who are seeking the educational excellence that you are offering. 

Students align with colleges who have a clear sense of purpose and identity. When you align your university with zo agency, we help refine and define your identity in a college branding ideas process that marries your insight and our expertise. Discover how you can benefit from our Brand Marketing strategies at!

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