Why should a brand matter to me? Why should I care?
Our brand is all the associations that people have about the institution — both positive and negative. While a university brand is typically assessed by its ability to increase visibility, generate revenue, and create a sustainable cycle for growth, a brand also impacts us on more a more personal level. For example, when faculty apply for grants or submit scholarly and creative works for publications, studies demonstrate that the reputation of the submitter’s university is considered when making decisions. U.S. News and other organizations weight institutional reputation and perception surveys as one of the leading factors for ranking academic departments and institutions. An effective university brand elevates all of the university’s efforts. A brand is not a marketing campaign — it is a deliberate, evidence-based pathway that links our current perceptions to our ambitions. In a heightened competitive environment with an increased level of scrutiny in higher education, an investment in branding is an investment in our individual and collective efforts to advance LMU.
What are we trying to accomplish with branding?
Our brand seeks to elevate and solidify LMU’s reputation and advance our institutional vision. Brands provide the foundation for a university to: attract best-fit students; attract and retain the best faculty and staff; engage and leverage alumni; support our tuition price; provide immediate credibility for new offerings, schools, and programs; support fundraising activities by providing donors with confidence that their investments are meaningful and impactful; create differentiation from the competition. Effective brands protect an institution from economic downturns and public perception crises.
Where are we on brand development?
As of September 2017, LMU is concluding the first phase of brand development, culminating in three significant deliverables from our brand development partner, SimpsonScarborough; (1) the results of the qualitative market research study; (2) the results of the quantitative market research study; (3) the LMU brand platform. These three outcomes will be submitted to the university by January 2018; they are a result of the intensive intake, discovery, and analysis activities that have been in process since Fall 2016. In 2018, the second phase, creative development, will begin.
What are the phases of brand development?
Phase one is the research, engagement, and discovery phase, characterized by qualitative and quantitative research studies of internal and external constituents. At the end of the first phase, market research findings will provide the basis for the university brand platform, a set of recommendations, messages, and competitive findings that define the brand and brand strategy. Phase two consists of a creative exploration and development, resulting in a design framework that visually articulates our brand. LMU will also undertake a refresh of its visual identity system, including its logo, typographic, and color guidelines. In parallel, we will conduct integration studies of our brand extensions, namely Loyola Law School, KXLU, and LMU Athletics. The goal is to devise a system in which the university’s parent brands, sub-brands, and brand extensions are aligned and integrated. The third and final phase is brand activation. This consists of landmark marketing campaigns that reintroduces the university to the local, regional, and national marketplace, powered by the messaging and visuals of the newly developed brand platform.
Is the University of Silicon Beach our brand?
No, the University of Silicon Beach™ is neither the university’s brand nor is it our lead marketing campaign. TUSB is a regional awareness and visibility campaign that seeks to leverage and maximize the university’s strategic geographic, programmatic, and outreach efforts to the significant opportunities offered by one of the world’s fastest growing tech, creative, and startup ecosystems. TUSB is only one facet of the university’s national visibility marketing campaigns. TUSB is the university’s boldest, most unified campaign, geographically targeted in the university’s local region, showcasing the potential impact of targeted, strategically-planned awareness campaigns.
What are our university’s current marketing campaigns and how do they relate to branding?
The university has adopted a twin strategy: (1) undertake brand development, a multi-year initiative to discover, develop, and articulate the university’s brand and set the foundation for all future marketing, communications, and outreach activities; (2) engage the competitive marketplace in pre-brand visibility campaigns aimed at increasing name recognition, general visibility, and exposure to broad audiences. Current marketing campaigns do not have the benefit of the brand platform to define strategy, so LMU MarComm has devised marketing messages that bolster LMU’s core values and marquee programs and initiatives, reinforcing concepts such as Jesuit education, academic excellence, location, and athletics programs. Our marketing campaigns are significant and range from digital ads in social media and websites to billboards, magazine and newspaper ads, event sponsorships, and other promotions. When our brand platform is completed, visibility and marketing campaigns will: shift to reinforce messaging and visuals consistently; target audiences and measure influenced actions and behaviors with key performance indicator metrics; further maximize reach through strategic and evidence-based marketing plans.
What is a brand?
Our brand is:
- What we stand for in the hearts and minds of the persons we are trying to reach, influence, and move to action;
- Based on past experiences and future expectations;
- Our reputation and positioning based on the sum of researched and documented associations.
Our brand is not:
- Our name
- Our logo
- Our mission
- Our vision
- Our tagline
- Our font, colors, visual identity
- Our advertising
Our brand should:
- Strengthen our fundraising goals by providing a foundation and focus for producing compelling and memorable cases for support;
- Inspire confidence in our donors, friends, foundations, and granting agencies that investing in LMU will produce impactful and meaningful outcomes;
- Shape our institution around its recognized strengths and forward-looking vision;
- Help achieve organizational goals and business challenges;
- Align to and inform strategic planning and all efforts that develop the university’s perceived value and reputation;
- Support our evolving internal culture as well as external outreach, positioning the university in a credible and authentic way;
- Help the university be more efficient;
- Be easily measured and aligned to broader goals and initiatives;
- Inform and streamline planning processes.
What is a brand strategy?
Brand strategy is the art and science of discovering, understanding, articulating and evolving our brand. Are we a branded house or a house of brands?
What is LMU’s branding philosophy?
We are implementing a “true branding” strategy, not an “as-is branding” project.
A clarifying investigation into who you are and what you stand for without fundamentally changing the institution itself.
LMU’s Vision: True Branding
Building a competitive position by shaping the institution around its strengths and evolving its internal culture and external outreach, thereby reimagining and promoting the university as the most authentic and best version of itself. True branding develops the conditions and pathways for an institution to link its current perceptions with its aspirational vision.
What is the difference between branding vs. marketing?
Branding is who you are. Marketing is how you build awareness. A brand is a long-term strategy to articulate and invest in our identity and reputation, informed by the sum of all associations and perceptions of our university. Marketing is comprised of short-term, targeted messaging and programs. Effective marketing campaigns support brands by reinforcing thematic messages while influencing behaviors and choices to achieve identified outcomes.
- Branding answers questions such as: What are your core principles and values? What is your mission and vision? What inspires you? What do you offer? What makes you unique? What is your internal culture? What is your style? What comes to mind when the public hears our name? How do we want people to feel about us? How will they describe us? How can we influence and move them to action?
- Marketing, as expressed through marketing campaigns, does not answer branding questions. While branding addresses long-term considerations, marketing addresses short-term tactical goals. Marketing answers who we are reaching (target audience); where we are reaching them (defined as communications channels such as print, radio, television web, social media, mobile); and why (to impact an outcome we identify, for example: to increase applications, to support event attendance, etc.).
What are the mission and goals of a world-class MarComm organization?
LMU Marketing and Communications seeks: to increase awareness, connectivity and engagement; to inspire pride and loyalty; to tell meaningful and memorable stories; to maximize visibility and relationships; to communicate with clarity and integrity; and to shape university strategies that amplify its strengths, elevate its reputation and fulfill its brand promise with global reach and global impact.
How do we measure brand success and reputational strength?
There are 5 key indicators of brand health that we recommend institutions measure and track on a regular basis. They include: awareness, familiarity, quality, net promoter score, and connection. We are conducting our first comprehensive brand research study to establish baseline metrics. We are identifying areas we most want to improve, commit institutional efforts to influencing those areas, and then replicate the study every 3 to measure progress.