Do you remember the first time you rode a bike without training wheels? It was probably a defining moment in your childhood – a real sense of achievement. How many times did you get frustrated because you were so nearly there? How badly did you want to give up and put your training wheels back on?
Very often, a new college brand can put you back in the same scenario. The initial idea of looking different and then the buzz of seeing it happen can quickly turn to doubt. You’ve made the investment, where are the immediate results? Impatience and frustration start to eat away at you and your pride has taken a hit. You just want to go back to how things were before – “the good old days”.
Don’t! However tempting it seems, jumping out of the frying pan into the fire is not the way to go.
You need to clear your head and banish any feelings of panic. You need to remain calm and rational – resist making any decisions based on knee-jerk reactions that might be detrimental to the college. Reverting back to the old look would cause uncertainty and confusion for your target audience, your staff and yourself.
If your rebrand was based on a strategy (and you were involved in the process from the start) then all the more reason to believe in it. Why would you consider ditching a fact-based solution for a ‘spray and pray’ approach? Surely that would put you in a more precarious position and eventually put you in a price war with your competitors. Isn’t that something you want to avoid?
Remember, it is a long-term investment you’re making, not a short-term fix, so treat it as such. How many people sell their homes soon after purchasing them because they haven’t immediately risen in value?
Very often the jitters begin at the implementation stage of the process because it has been grossly underestimated and concessions are subsequently made to prevent earlier overspending. The wheels then start to fall off because the finished products (whilst strategically sound) are a poor quality – cheap, misleading, rushed, ineffective and damaging to the brand. Indeed, a good idea that’s poorly executed is perhaps even more harmful than a bad idea! The target audience loses faith and you lose faith.
Take control before this has a chance to happen. Alleviate the unnecessary stress by prioritising the essential marketing tools you will need so the new college brand can begin to do its job. Don’t forget social media, it is free after all – talk to your student community, start a conversation and create a buzz about the new look. Consider a style guide too, it’s an invaluable reference tool for all the relevant people – it helps understanding, reinforces direction, creates unity and reduces nerves.
Even if money is extremely tight, be careful about investing in an inferior product. A menial website or low-cost direct mail piece might save you a bit of cash in the short term but if it doesn’t meet the needs and expectations of the people you’re trying to attract, would it have been worth it? It might cost you even more to put it right and that might still leave you feeling uncertain.
Learn to be patient and give the new brand a chance to bed-in and flourish. It’s not just about the visuals either, it’s a combination of everything – ethos, experience, language, reputation, messaging etc. Some things will show immediate results, particularly in social media where the number of people ‘talking’ about your college might jump significantly. Others might take a bit longer to show an adjustment but just because you might not be seeing instant results, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening behind the scenes.
Don’t just sit back and wait for it to happen (you will have a long wait). Be proactive and make it happen. Most of all, believe in it and trust it – it’s the one thing that will separate your college from your competitors. It will make you stand out from the crowd.
If you get the basics right first time around, the risk of you losing faith in your college brand will be greatly reduced.