Brand Chemistry™

Strategic Institutional Positioning

90-120 min keynote presentation, or full-day brand strategy workshop

In an increasingly competitive, global landscape for student recruitment, most colleges and universities desperately need to stake out a credible, compelling, and distinctive brand position, and find creative and memorable ways to communicate it to all stakeholders. Unfortunately, corporate branding processes tend to fail when applied in the collegial, decentralized culture of most academic institutions.

Building on decades of award-winning experience in brand strategy, comprehensive data on stakeholder perceptions of institutional positions, and dozens of successful rebranding projects for Canadian colleges and universities, Ken Steele has developed a data-driven conceptual model of Brand Chemistry™ which actually thrives in academic environments, gathering input from all corners of the institution and building consensus around a focused brand strategy. Higher education institutions can assemble a unique formula for their own distinctive brand, but they must start with elements from a finite table of possibilities. Brand analysis can measure the perceptions of key stakeholders (including students, applicants, faculty and alumni), to determine which brand elements are solid, and which are still aspirational “vapour.” Assessment of competitor positions can define those high-energy elements that have real potential as differentials.  Then a series of brand “fusion experiments” combine those elements in a variety of ways to ultimately arrive at a single brand formula to guide institutional strategic planning, brand creative, and marketing efforts for years to come.

Ken’s unique perspective on the Canadian post-secondary sector was evident at every step in the Positioning Summit, market survey, and his comprehensive White Paper.

Dr. Dave Marshall, President, Mount Royal University

Ken Steele is Canada’s leading higher education monitor and futurist. After an award-winning career in marketing, he co-founded Academica Group, created the Academica Top Ten, manages Eduvation Inc, co-authored Canada’s first book on enrolment management, and hosts a weekly webcast, Ten with Ken, that reaches thousands of subscribers on a dozen platforms. Ken brings his unique perspective and insight to a broad range of audiences, from faculty and instructors, boards and senior administration, to information technology staff, concerned parents, and Canada’s most powerful corporate CEOs.

This thought-provoking presentation of a workable model of higher education Brand Chemistry™, peppered with rich examples of good, bad, and ugly PSE brands, can stimulate a marketing team, launch a brand positioning process, or build understanding of brand strategy across the broader campus community. As a full-day workshop, Ken can lead a small or large group in a process of exploration and consensus-building to advance your institutional branding or rebranding efforts.

Ideal Audiences

  • Marketing Communications leadership and front-line staff
  • External Relations leadership and front-line staff
  • Communications Committees
  • Recruitment and Enrolment Staff
  • Executive Teams
  • Board Retreats
  • Conference Keynotes
  • Launch for Branding Process

Optional Extras

  • You could schedule this as a full-day retreat, a half-day workshop, or a keynote presentation followed by Q&A.
  • You might consider 2 or 3 presentations, possibly for a variety of audiences, drawn from Ken’s hot topics.
  • Optionally, Ken and Academica Group could review or conduct your market research, develop a broad-based consultation process for your stakeholder communities, and provide guidance for the development of an institutional strategic plan or brand strategy.

Related Resources:

These articles and white papers reflect some of Ken’s ideas, and could potentially be used as pre-reading for workshop participants:

Here are some branding-related episodes of 10K, for a sense of Ken’s approach and as potential examples to share with participants in advance:


All contents copyright © 2014 Eduvation Inc. All rights reserved.