Eduvation Blog

Brand Chemistry 101 – Introduction

Ken Steele explains the metaphor of “brand chemistry”™ as it applied to higher education marketing. College and university ranking systems are too simple and one-dimensional to guide a brand strategy. Typically the size, age, and research-intensity of a university explained its placement in the reputation rankings. A two-dimensional approach (academic reputation vs student experience) shed somewhat more light on their market positions, but combined with a careful study of hundreds of other indicators, we developed a “five quadrant” schema that divided universities and colleges into Elite, Outcome, Nurturing, Campus, or Commodity schools. The schema explained a lot, but ultimately every institution saw their brand as much more nuanced, and top-of-mind perceptions from a wide range of stakeholders we studied (current and prospective students, parents, faculty, alumni, employers and guidance counsellors) revealed that brand identities also encompassed other dimensions, such as size, age, academic rigour, excitement, tradition, cost, location, specific program areas or sports teams. This led Ken Steele to develop the concept of brand elements, which can be combined in numerous ways to create unique compounds and distinctive “brand formulas” for any given college or university. Eduvation’s proprietary Brand Chemistry™ model has helped build consensus and focus messaging for large and small colleges and universities.

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