Expert guidance on the marketing you can’t see

“When searching for a partner to lead the development of a comprehensive marketing strategy, RHB stood out from the crowd. Their laser focus on authentic truth-telling brought clarity to our mission, elevated our unique value to higher education, and revealed the soft spots we needed to address. In finding this ‘coherence,’ we transcended the creation of slick marketing materials and were fundamentally transformed as an organization ready to maximize our contribution to the world.”

Jonathan D. Purvis, CFRE

Vice President for Institutional Advancement, Butler University

Shaping brand comes from repeatedly aligning everything you do and say as an institution to the market position you have chosen. That’s how people will come to identify the brand that you intend.

This all stems from the marketing you cannot see: the necessary and difficult foundation-setting and horizon-defining work that must occur to create coherent and enduring solutions.

RHB can guide your institution in securing its market position.

Discover and live into your institution’s one true place in the higher ed universe.

Marketing Research

Circles of Influence (Qualitative)

Different from traditional focus groups, Circles of Influence examine the creation of relationships and range of experiences central to the lives of your students, faculty and staff. As we lead intimate collaborative storytelling sessions, Circles uncover the deep truths and resonant language that characterize your specific institutional experience. RHB’s distinctive approach uncovers which experiences and language to highlight—and how—in your own storytelling.

Pivots (Qualitative)

Pivots is a proprietary qualitative research methodology designed to explore the expectations and experiences that people who are not current students have with your institution. These individuals could represent key external groups—parents, prospective students, alumni, donors, community leaders and others. Placing a shared relationship to your institution at the center of the conversation, Pivots provides you with a candid, in-depth examination of the experience of your constituents and captures the language they use to describe you and the brand attributes they assign to you.

Brand Vantage (Quantitative)

When you need a broader view into how your audiences perceive your brand, how audiences think about you in comparison to other institutions or which brand attributes make you distinctive, RHB can administer surveys to several internal and external segments with the right mix of question types and engaging design to elicit the highest-quality data that will lead to actionable insights. RHB can also develop a custom brand health index that allows you to measure year-over-year progress.

Coherent Expressions

Coherence Inventory

An in-depth examination of institution-wide integrated marketing efforts, the Coherence Inventory assesses your institution’s expression of its truth, identifying current strengths in messaging efforts, as well as points of incoherence and gaps to fill in the construction of a truthful narrative. Typically done in conjunction with Circles of Influence, the Coherence Inventory determines if the experiences, stories and vivid descriptors that surfaced during Circles—and reflect your institution best—are evident across your communications.


With the expertise of a diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) lens, RHB identifies opportunities for institutions to create communications that foster belonging and ensure coherence between institutional messaging and constituent experience. RHB draws on the right combination of methods to discover what your audiences glean from your communications in the context of your institution’s commitment to DEIB. Our analytical process produces empathetic counsel and recommendations on the best strategies—including developing the right vocabulary for your institutional context—to tell your story in your distinctive voice.


The Coherence Manifest is a presentation of both the verbal and visual elements that will serve as navigational touchstones in the development of all marketing and communications. With your market position clearly defined, you can make choices for messaging and behaviors consistent with your institution’s one place in the universe. The Brand Narrative gives you the definitive language to bring your market position to life with confidence and clarity across your communications and other key touchpoints.

Typically done in conjunction with Circles of Influence, the Coherence Inventory determines if the experiences, stories and vivid descriptors that surfaced during Circles—and reflect your institution best—are evident across your communications.

Maximize the effectiveness of your marketing organization.


How well-equipped is your marketing function to help meaningfully move your institution forward? Through our market leadership in organizational design and development for higher education marketing and communications, RHB works with college and university leaders to answer critical questions about how outcomes-focused, modern marcomm functions should evolve or transform organizationally for greater capability and deeper engagement in institutional priorities.

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Has your college or university made important choices about the value and quantifiable change the marketing and communications function should create for the institution? Does marketing and communications have a clear roadmap for engaging in outcomes that matter most to the institution? RHB’s deep expertise in strategic planning extends to strategic plan development for marketing and communications to ensure institutional alignment.


Are you investing in marketing and communications at the appropriate level? Do you know how marketing and communications should be resourced for the work that your institutional ambitions require? RHB’s Competitive Spend Analysis provides these insights and benchmarks your investment level—including advertising expenditures—against peers, competitors and aspirants.

We also provide empathetic counsel to suggest the best strategies to tell your story in your distinctive voice.


High-performing leaders are always learning, growing and adapting. With a deep understanding of the nuances involved in leading higher education marketing and communications, RHB provides executive coaching, transition coaching and onboarding coaching to VPs and CMCOs. RHB’s strategic counsel links leadership performance to organizational strategy and is tailored for leaders as they navigate change management and situational complexities.

Are you ready to advance the effectiveness of your marketing practice?

Let’s get to work.