The higher ed industry is well-known for being behind other industries. But as the higher ed industry has started to undergo a rapid transformation as it has fought to keep up with growing competition from online, alternative and international education options, universities are having to focus more on proving their value to their customer.
Brand consistency has been found to improve a brand’s visibility by 3-4x, but less that 10% of organizations say their brand presentation is consistent. In 2017, 44% of public colleges didn’t meet their enrollment goals in 2017, which means universities who embrace building and protecting their brand will have a huge advantage over those who are still struggling to keep up.
So, what are the steps to building an effective brand consistency program on campus?
Step 1. Audit brand consistency across campus
The majority of organizations will fall into one of two camps. In the Wild West content is created with little to no oversight. Distorted logos, ugly fonts and poor color choices run rampant. In the brand prison, content is so controlled that creative teams are swamped with requests and faculty are stuck waiting for weeks for their content to be created.
Step 2. Talk to your central design team
Ask the team how much time they spend on core creative projects vs. handling mundane edit and update requests. What types of requests do they get most often? Note these patterns as you start to identify how you can provide more freedom to faculty while maintaining your university’s brand.
Step 3. Meet with key stake holders
A brand consistency program will only be effective if you have buy-in from stakeholders across campus. Talk with the head of University Communications, creative teams and key department heads. Share what you found with each stakeholder and ask for their input on how the content creation process can be improved.
Step 4. Review potential solutions
- Many organizations use a digital asset management system to store and distribute approved digital assets. Using a DAM will be most effective if you hold regular training sessions on how to use the system and require employees to only use approved digital assets.
- Another option is to use branded templates so faculty can go in and adjust content and images but have a pre-approved layout and color scheme to use to create the content.
- Some universities may be able to develop multiple creative teams who can service the most important projects while allowing more freedom for content that won’t be distributed widely to students or alumni.
Step 5. Implement
Once you’ve selected an approach, test the approach across a small group of users to work out any kinks and get feedback on which brand assets or content templates are most important to faculty and staff. Next, roll out to the whole organization. Make an announcement about the change and hold mandatory trainings for all faculty. Continue to gather input and feedback for the next few months to ensure the program is sustainable.
Growing competition can be a catalyst to improve if universities embrace the importance of marketing their brands and providing a consistent experience to their students, alumni and donors.