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Colleges join the Web 2 brand dance

09/14/2011

Others learned color by Crayola. I learned them (in no particular order) by my father’s college color: the U.S. flag, my town’s high school, religious symbolism, and seasonal holidays.

Colleges branding via mascots, colors and song.

fordham

Image by final_end via Flickr

Maroon, rams, and seven blocks of granite. No brand — just standards, history, and vision. And so for all. At best, colleges were tiered (i.e., branded) as Ivy, private, state, and technical. My college was actually a “test” (sub-brand) of women undergrads. (We passed with exceptional performance.)

College branding via Alumni/ae

Graduation and alumni/ae life precluded the need for a brand. In essence, you lived and breathed your college experience and often networked for career or academic advancement through “circles.” My first boss, in fact, was a fellow graduate.

Over time, at networking events, sure enough we tend to gravitate to one another by the quality of our thinking— mostly by instinct. Like quality clothing, our “brand” speaks for itself.

College branding by the Madison Avenue books

Within the last 10 years, I’ve noticed a tag line that now appears under my college seal. Ergo, the hallowed seal is now a logo and my university a brand. Along with the brand have come interesting “brand” stories in our alumni magazine — about how we “fought” Harvard for the color and won the rights to maroon vs. crimson.

College branding and mass mingling

Colleges, like any enterprise, don’t exist in brick and mortar environments any more. More than online classes, they have a distinct presence everywhere on the Web. Every college has an alumni LinkedIn group that may include regional or professional subgroups.

And that’s the point. College ranking programs (U.S. News, Newsweek/Kaplan, Forbes) impact college selection choices decisions as much as open-houses and pitch material. So it’s vital for colleges to join the Web 2.0 dance. You may not be attend the classes, but you’ll know they’re out there. Not branding is not an option (Pardon the double negative.)

A Web search provides several related articles:

 National survey of colleges reveals importance of branding, creating community

Does Branding Pay Off for Colleges? Harvard Thinks So.

Does your college “brand”?

Join the Twitter #brandchat Q3 on Wednesday, September 14th, 11am EST. Transcript will be published 2-3 days following. See you on campus!

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