Your Party Is Not Your Brand

Celebrating marketing and promotional efforts is a rather new phenomenon on college and university campuses. Higher ed has come a long way (at least for those of us in marketing) in adopting the practicality of well-executed marketing efforts. We still see many signs of reticence to jump on board the marketing train, particularly from the academic side of the campus, but more and more colleges and universities are investing in marketing in order to ensure sustainability in a competitive industry. So, when campuses throw “launch parties” to introduce new campaigns, we’re reminded of how far higher education has come in a short time.

As higher ed becomes more sophisticated in its marketing endeavors, however, we’re noticing some troubling behaviors.

The campus-wide event to kick off a new campaign can be a great way to introduce your community to your new messaging, to provide the background and thinking that shaped your campaign, to ensure that your internal audience sees the campaign first (and is not surprised) and to build a network of brand ambassadors equipped with the knowledge and language to support your efforts.

Amidst all the celebration, though, your community can be easily confused by thinking the new campaign is your brand. Your campaign is not your brand. Your new logo is not your brand. Your new tagline is not your brand. These are only tools to garner attention and to help position you among your competitors. Don’t confuse these “branding” efforts with your brand. More on that below.

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Rick Bailey

Rick is the Principal and founding partner at RHB.