The State of Higher Ed Branding: A Survey of Marketing Leaders released by mStoner Inc.

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In a time when colleges and universities face many challenges, higher ed CMOs and executives understand the value of an effective brand strategy. Today, mStoner Inc. releases a white paper on the State of Higher Ed Branding to help institutions determine best practices for establishing brand strategy, learn what others have invested in their process and implementation, and measure how effective they’ve been.

The more informed one is, the better they can argue the case for the research needed to develop a strategic institutional brand strategy and communicate the expected outcomes and benefits from the process.

In a time when colleges and universities face many challenges, higher ed CMOs and executives understand the value of an effective brand strategy. But it’s been hard to find data to help determine best practices for establishing brand strategy, learn what others have invested in their process and implementation, and measure how effective they’ve been.

A white paper released by mStoner Inc. this morning helps to fill in some of those gaps in information. Based on a survey of directors of marketing, vice presidents, and CMOs of four-year institutions, The State of Higher Ed Branding: A Survey of Marketing Leaders by Deborah Maue and Tom Hayes provides an essential snapshot of best practices and outcomes from institutions that have developed and implemented formal, research-based brand strategies on their campuses.

Among the key findings:

●     Most of the institutions represented by respondents to the survey have done a brand strategy project: 76% of respondents say that they have completed a brand strategy project at their institution.
●     They've done brand strategy work recently: 73% of respondents who have done a brand strategy project have completed it within the past 5 years.
●     Institutions are committing significant resources to brand strategy: 30% of respondents said they spent over $200,000. And 53% have spent more than $100,000.
●     They are doing brand research among external audiences: 75% said the process included qualitative research with external constituents and 73% said it included quantitative research with external constituents.
●     They are using external partners: 92% said they relied on an outside consultant for market research; 78% relied on an outside consultant for the brand strategy phase.

The research, conducted in the first quarter of 2015, was sponsored by mStoner Inc., a marketing and communications firm serving higher education. The firm worked with Tom Hayes, PhD, professor of marketing at Xavier University, in developing and conducting the survey and analyzing the results.

Michael Stoner, president of mStoner, said, “We recognized that there is significant value to leaders in higher education to having information about how to develop and implement a brand strategy for their campus — and do it effectively. And we knew that this information existed in case studies and articles, but not in a readily available format that allowed people to benchmark their own initiatives. We wanted to learn about this ourselves — and to share what we learned with our colleagues.”

Dr. Hayes said, “The more informed one is, the better they can argue the case for the research needed to develop a strategic institutional brand strategy and communicate the expected outcomes and benefits from the process. This research provides the information necessary to accomplish both of these objectives.”

Deb Maue, senior strategist at mStoner, led the internal research team and co-authored the white paper. She noted, “The findings underscore the importance of involving internal and external constituents in brand research—and making sure that internal constituents are involved as the brand develops and rolls out.”

The white paper is available for download at: http://mstnr.me/StateOfBranding

mStoner, Inc. helps clients to tell their authentic stories by clarifying their unique brand value proposition, creating a content strategy to communicate the brand effectively, and implementing compelling and dynamic communications across the web, mobile, social media, print, and other channels. We focus on research, data, and results. Since 2001, we’ve worked with more than 300 colleges, universities, and professional schools in the U.S. and abroad. mStoner published Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students, and Get Results in 2013 -- the first and only guide to successful social media campaigns in higher education. We produce HigherEdLive.com as a free resource for professionals in education. For much more, visit our blog (http://www.mStoner.com/blog/) and website (http://www.mStoner.com).

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