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Higher Education Branding: Creating a Unique Brand Identity Ultimate Guide (2022)

Branding is essential for any business model and whichever industry they reside in. A brand is the personality of your organization, In the case of Higher education, a unique Higher Education Branding goes beyond characters, design, colors, and logos. 

For enrollment marketers and higher education institutions having a sound brand strategy is essential in 2022. Living in a world influenced by social media, organizations need to stand out from the competition, engaging audiences on multiple platforms and keeping them loyal to their brand. 

Forbes offer five interesting benefits of having a strong brand presence in their article:

  1. Branding allows more people to recognize your organization 
  2. Branding helps build trust with audiences 
  3. Branding provides an initiative to improve advertising
  4. Branding gives a sense of identity to employees 
  5. Branding creates loyal customers  

What is Higher Education Branding 

Prospective students are on the lookout for unique educational opportunities for a selection of reasons including advancing their professional careers, growing their future earning potential, following their passions for particular subjects, and for further academic research. 

High education institutions present more to students than classrooms and examinations. Branding is essential for universities to differentiate the quality of experience and fulfillment of future prospects for students. 

By giving the university or college a personality, high education branding can attract relevant persons of students who share similar values to that of the institution. For instance, several universities brand themselves for their excellence in sports education and offer prospects for sports careers. 

Why is branding important for Higher Education Institutions?

Branding can have a great impact on the success of high education institutions, as it provides them with an identity and prestige. In addition, branding creates trust with audiences, providing them with a consistent personality to interact with. 

  • Builds Recognition and Trust

Higher education branding allows universities & colleges to build a consistent image over multiple platforms may it be digital or physical. Maintaining consistent content, designs, colors, marketing, and logos instills a sense of trust in audiences. 

Branding unifies the various schools within higher education institutions to embrace the same mission, vision, and values. For example, Harvard Business School brands itself on providing elite education from the leaders of business. Every landing page is thus focused on the profile of professional teachers. 

Students trust the Ivy League University brands primarily because of the unique experiences they offer, in addition to the massive career prospects with their degrees. Branding, therefore, is a brilliant way to set yourself apart from other universities. 

  • Create Value 

Education is offered the same way in every college & university, it is the branding that sets it apart while pointing out the unique elements of joining a certain institution. 

With hundreds of higher education brands lining up to attract students, it is essential for graduate schools to develop unique identities based on their history, faculties, successful alumni, facilities, and other unique competitive advantages.  

Creating value by providing promising career options, guaranteed financial growth, and research benefits allow institutions to attract multiple personas by simply highlighting the value of the brand. 

  • Help with enrollments 

Branding is quite simply the most effective way to give your marketing campaigns a personality to build upon. The strength and unique advantages of higher education branding can attract a huge audience. 

As mentioned earlier, branding allows universities to attract students who share the same values as the institutions. Students understand the importance of academics and the extracurricular life around studies. A high-quality landing page for your university will provide more qualified leads with great branding. Branding is also essential to retain students and provide them with a sense of direction for their future. 

3 Great Higher Education Branding Examples from Around the World 

Oxford University 

Ranked the best university in the United Kingdom, Oxford University brands itself as an elite school that values high-achieving students from all over the world. 

Students are engaged with excellent prospects for their careers, world class facilities, professional faculty, and belonging to an amazing community of graduates, professionals, researchers, and staff. 

Oxford University provides a unique brand identity that attracts the top 5% of student personas who have a hunger for research, and knowledge, and who want to showcase their unique talent.  The school offers a unique place for research and development, recalling that their medical school also participated in the COVID vaccine research 3 years ago. 

The Oxford Brand is based on prestige, a glorious history, and its unique offering of libraries, facilities, and immensely learned faculty. If you focus on the logo, it features an open book with two crowns on it indicating knowledge, research, prestige, and a mission of scholarly achievement. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is the top-ranked school in the United States and prides itself on its world-class Information Technology education and research. The MIT brand is built on the premise of learning by doing. 

The MIT brand focuses on students' curiosities, playful imaginations, and appetite for solving the hardest problems. At MIT the institution focuses on allowing students to practice, allowing them to bring ideas to life. 

The MIT brand prioritizes research with the mission of learning by doing, there is a great emphasis on practical application and faculty-based research. By collaborating with other like-minded organizations, the MIT brand focuses on solving real-world problems. 

The brilliant website is a great representation of consistency and a unified content strategy that provides a research-centered brand image. Collaboration and community are also two essential pillars that the MIT brand represents. The university prides itself on its surrounding community of brilliant, creative, and committed people.  

In essence, the MIT brand focuses on education, research, and innovation. It attracts inventive and creative prospective students who want to experiment, research, and apply to innovate existing systems & processes. 

University of Melbourne 

The top-ranked school in Australia, the University of Melbourne is a brand name that focuses on providing students with a place to achieve their individual goals. The logo itself signifies freedom and the ability to soar through your career like an eagle in the sky. 

The Melbourne brand prioritizes on futures, offering students a place to enhance their skills and knowledge for career progression.  Like other top schools, the University of Melbourne focuses on research to solve real-world problems, giving students a platform of innovation and knowledge. 

The brand also focuses on providing partial learners a platform to enhance skills through micro-courses and diplomas, attracting multiple personas from across the world. The Melbourne brand in essence offers career progression, opportunities to enhance earnings, and provides graduates with new skills for their careers. 

You may have noticed that all three of our examples employ dark blue colors to their branding schemes. And that has psychological reasoning. The dark blue color that we can notice widely in the Oxford University and Melbourne university examples represents professionalism, security, and formality. It is the color of maturity and trustworthiness. 

The color of a particular higher education brand is however representative of its target audiences and alumni. What color a brand must choose depends massively on its target personas. For example, MIT uses a mix of white and shades of blue, because of its personas like clarity, transparency, and unveiling anomalies through research. 

9 Higher Education Branding Tips To Stand out from the Competition

Branding is a very interesting and complex process usually directed by the senior hierarchy of any institution. We have compiled 10 interesting tips to develop and enact a resolute branding strategy for any high education institution.

  1. Define your institution's mission and values

The branding process usually begins with the core mission and values of an organization. Once identified these values and the mission should be embedded in the culture, faculty, students, and other aspects of the institution. 

  1. Research your competition and find what sets you apart

It is essential for high education institutions to focus on the competition to seek insight into how they are positioning their brand. Once an institution knows what the competition is offering it can identify its unique propositions to build a brand identity.     

  1. Highlight your unique features (USP)

Identifying the competition’s USPs and researching ideal personas provides universities & colleges with the unique benefits they offer in comparison. Some schools brand themselves as research pioneers, others focus on career development while elsewhere brands are built on history & prestige.

  1. Develop a logo, color palette, and brand guideline book that reflect your brand identity

To give your educational brand a memorable identity a creative logo, representative color palette, and brand guide are essential to give it personality. As we discussed above, brands choose their color scheme based on their personas and what they aspire to. 

The logo itself is the representation of all the different elements attached to a higher education brand. We already discussed how the Oxford and Melbourne university logos are representative of their brand USPs. 

  1. Create marketing materials (website, social media profiles, brochures, etc.) that communicate your brand story

The content centered around a university brand must tell the story of the institution and its legacy. The uniformity and consistency of the content, design, and colors are critical factors that set one brand apart from the others. 

  1. Keep brand assets in one place and share templates with staff and faculty.

Everyone and everything attached to the brand must share the same brand values and mission. As we mentioned above every value and vision should be embedded in every faculty member, alumni, facility, digital assets, and marketing strategy. 

  1. Use student personas to build content strategies 

Student personas are a core factor that determines the direction and identity of an educational brand. Personas are a brilliant insight to identifying a color palette, logo, designs, and content strategies. 

Personas are representative of what audiences like, what interests them, how they interact with the world, and what inspires them. 

  1. Train employees on how to represent your brand consistently across all channels

All staff and faculty must embrace the brand value and identity to deliver them consistently across all channels. The senior management must share marketing materials, and guides, and offer training to ensure everyone embeds the brand’s values in their behavior and the institution's culture.  

  1. Keep working to improve your brand image

It's always advantageous to keep building on the brand of your institution. High education institutions should consistently work on improving and innovating their branding to ensure they keep up with prevalent times. 

Conclusion 

Branding remains one of the most important principles to remain differentiated from the competition in our highly transparent world. It is essential to have a mission, values, and vision projected through colors, logos, and personalities. 

Higher educational institutions are no different and must set themselves apart with strategic branding that allows them to deliver their unique values and offers to prospective students.

You can hire a higher education marketing agency to revamp your brand and identify the areas that need work. With a proper branding strategy, you can get more enrollment resulting in higher revenues!   

Manno Notermans

Manno is a wanderer of the world looking to make an impact and change the world for the better. He has over 10 years of experience working in various marketing positions. Manno’s main focus the past few years has been accelerating the growth of businesses, increasing revenue, and profit with out-of-box creative ideas and implementations.