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We are in an era of high competition for university student recruitment. How do universities use branding to stand out and recruit students?

We are in an era of high competition for student recruitment, from both domestic and international sources. Studies show that students want a broad amount from their universities, from learning new skills (number one) to ‘have a good time’. So how do universities give students an excellent experience, how do they differentiate themselves from all the other options and institutions that are on offer. Well, ask yourself this – who are we talking to? Correct – Students.

These are evolved consumers, brand and digitally savvy people looking for an experience. Your university brand is what THEY say it is. The answer is to develop a student-centric university brand, that is genuinely authentic to the character, by being consistent in the way it communicates. And then you will have a brand that students will advocate, share and never forget.

The latest university logos may have moved from using a serif typeface to sans-serif typeface and the introduction of colour has certainly made some institutions feel less stuffy. But a brand is more than a logo and these decisions, if appropriate, must go beyond that stamp into the very culture of the university. Some universities have a great culture and an embarrassing, un-sharable identity that doesn’t work in a digital application. Whichever way round the problem is, it is the realisation of the university brand that is the beginning of the solution, with the consistent execution and decision making based on that brand that solidifies it.

For student recruitment, how can you leverage existing students and create experiences for prospective students that are on-brand and influential? What is that feeling that your university wants to evoke from its perspective and current students? If you can focus in on that combined with a clear purpose and vision, this can draw you closer to managing that student audience perception. If this is developed this is called a brand strategy and it is the foundation of successful brands and their visual and tonal identities.

Execution and consistency are also key next steps, tools that enable brand management across campuses and departments are needed to enable academics and administrators to create effective, on-brand communications easily.

At Confederation we’ve helped and seen universities increase their student recruitment (60% in some cases) by helping them with their branding and communications tools; which in turn has impacted operations, recruitment, culture and infrastructure; resulting in students feeling a part of something they are proud to share.