Creating branding ideas for colleges and universities is challenging. When all is said and presented, the promise is largely about preparing kids to lead a good life and get a good job. Good brand planners take a deep look at the institution and build the idea (and platform) around its strengths and, if need be, perceived weaknesses.
A couple of years ago, I was involved in a pitch for Hofstra University. Hofstra had invested in some research and a brand redesign, e.g., new logo, color palette, signage, brochure templates, etc. Unfortunately, the graphics company never took the research deck and created a message platform or brand plan, so the university decided to do an agency search.
Unfortunately, Hofstra never gave out the market research. My presentation was about message discipline and graphics discipline – a “How To,” if you will. We lost. The account went to a company that focused on graphics and digital asset management.
Today I read where Stuart Rabinowitz, president of Hofstra, has announced the university will host the third and final presidential debate; a brilliant publicity coup. They will derive from this event great brand awareness, momentary fame and a good warm feeling for alumni and donors. However, because it is not packaging this moment in history with its own branding idea, it will simply pass as news.
Marketing and branding are about packaging the tactics…about packaging the idea.