You have to be true to who you are. If that sounds cliché, it’s because it is. But when it comes to messaging and marketing, it’s also absolutely true. Especially if you’re talking about the field of higher education. Making a connection with any target audience will only hold value if the connection you create is honest.
“Brand values can be established as a brand identity, but they must believably exist in the mind of the consumer. A brand can’t just say it stands for something and make it so. The consumer will decide, making it more important than ever for a brand to have measures of authenticity that will aid in brand differentiation and consumer engagement.”
Case in point: Purchase College. This premier member of the State University of New York system had what many might consider an enviable situation – it was experiencing very little difficulty in recruiting students.
The challenge was in student retention.
As part of the SUNY system, Purchase College attracted many students expecting a “typical” SUNY experience – something you definitely won’t find at the distinctly different Purchase College. Even internally, Purchase had become a college of two minds, a unique combination of both arts conservatory and liberal arts/sciences mainstay.
In order to get more of the right students to apply and have fewer of the wrong ones enroll, Purchase College needed to start talking about itself in a more authentic and direct way – allowing prospective students to “self-select.”
Through our Mine & Dine and BrandAmp products, Media Logic quickly worked to uncover, identify and create a unified vision. Media Logic provided the necessary forum for leaders from across the campus community to come together and resolve the tension between the school’s “arts” side and its “liberal arts” side.
Under Media Logic’s guidance, Purchase College created a brand that was far more than the sum of its parts. Essential to the branding process were qualitative research, a geo-demographic analysis, predictive modeling and a comprehensive recruitment and retention plan. We were able to determine that Purchase’s ultimate value came not solely from its programs, but from the unique mindset and culture of the students themselves.
The entire campus – from faculty and students to administrators and alumni – embraced the new brand as an authentic reflection of who they really were. It was integrated into all recruitment communications, and guidelines were established to extend it across the entire college.
After the launch of the new brand, applications increased more than 60%. Selectivity was also up 16% (more than 30% for liberal arts), and persistence has risen by 10% and 12%, respectively.Tags: authenticity, brand communities, brand identity, branding, engagement, honesty, integrated marketing, market research, Mine & Dine, Purchase College, target audience