Increasing brand awareness is constantly a top priority with universities, colleges, and institutions alike. Student recruitment, both domestically and internationally, stems directly from the school's brand and how the organization is perceived in society. It's critical to define what your institution stands for and how you separate yourself from the competition. A story, tone-of-voice and visual help outline the identity of your business.
First, it's important that you know and understand the kind of students your institution wishes to attract. Whether it's international students from Europe, local students in the regional area, or students on the other side of the country; each kind of attraction will be different. The design and message of your approach will vary from here.
Consistency and honesty are essential to uncovering what your institutions ideal brand is. Eventually, when students start to relate to your brand message and story, they will themselves chose to be a part of it too. This is when you know your brand statement has been successful.
Your identity as an institution has to be relevant, unique, and consistently be able to engage with your prospective students. Aligning your particular organization's characteristics and values gives you a competitive edge towards your prospective students. Influencing the perception of your institution is one of the most important factors in their decision-making process.
In a survey conducted by UCLA, students were asked about what factors were "very important" in influencing their final college selection. From a marketers perspective, all of these factors can be perceived by the school's brand through a variety of mediums.
- "College has very good academic reputation (63.8%)".
- "This college's graduates get good jobs (55.9%)"
- "College has a good reputation for its social activities (40.2%)"
- "Information from a website (18.7%)".
A major factor in recruiting the right students is incorporating them appropriately with their stage in their student journey. The student journey is important in developing the right brand statement, because not only will prospective students (and donors) look upon past results when making decisions, but they will also evaluate their time and money investment into your institution.
The prospective student is the target, but engaging with them appropriately as they go through the years in the university as well as post-graduation when they become an alumnus will be another high-priority factor.
In the years between 2013 and 2015, Princeton Univeristy (once ranked number 1 for National Universities by U.S.News) recorded that the two-year average percentage of alumni who donated was 63%. Alumni remains to be the top source of university donations, and having a great method of engaging or at least being able to contact alumni to do so is also important in your funding efforts.
"If you love PC, you'll love the PC SAA!" Reads the title for the Student Alumni Association at Providence College (RI). Networking with alumni as I said is extremely important with branding and funding. Providence College does great job keeping alumni involved with the school after graduation by providing services, programs and special events. The PC SAA also enhaces the education of students and prepares them to serve as future alumni leaders and volunteers. This network is exactly what many students look for in a college or institution, and will also increase engagement with students after graduation.
To learn more about branding your institution, or to contact experts on how to drive results with successful methods, click here. Additionally, if you are using videos to increase brand awareness for your university, Download our free workbook to help get you started.