An authentic education brand is what makes your college stand out to the students who will thrive there. It tells them what makes it right for them and how attending your school will help them succeed. Here’s how to get started on education branding.
Articulating your education brand helps students connect and engage with your college – the first step towards better enrollment results. Defining your education brand may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get started on the path to better enrollment results.
First, understand your strengths. What does your college do well? Why does it stand out for students? Their influencers? The community at large? Harder to hear but equally important is where you fall short. What are the challenges holding your college back and making it harder to hit enrollment targets?
The answer is simple (but simple isn’t always easy).
Talk to them
Why did your current students and alumni choose your college? Why did others make a different college choice? How do your prospective students perceive your school? Parents and guidance counselors (key influencers)? Alumni? Community leaders?
Focus groups, individual stakeholder interviews, and surveys are all great tools for finding out what you need to know – you’ll just need to make sure you’re asking the right questions and have a 360-degree perspective on what the answers mean.
Here are a few questions to get you started in defining your education brand:
- What do you see as the college’s strengths?
- What do you like best about it?
- What do you see as weaknesses?
- What’s most important to you in choosing a college?
- What other schools did you consider, and why?
It’s also important to talk to your research participants in the right way. For example, students tend to be more responsive in a group, whereas you may get better results from guidance counselors from 1:1 stakeholder interviews.
Conduct competitive research
It’s also critical to understand your competition. Where else do your prospective students go, and why? Analyze your competitors’ messaging as well as strengths and weaknesses. That will help define the playing field and where your college stands in the market.
Defining your education brand
The answers to these questions are at the heart of your education brand – how your strengths align with your prospective students’ needs in a way that resonates with them and creates a meaningful connection. Making that connection paves the way for a conversation that leads to application, acceptance, retention, and graduation. For their success – and for yours.