A college brand in limbo is no laughing matter

5 years ago  •  By  •  0 Comments

A long time ago, in a higher education galaxy not too far away, the strategic part of the repositioning process was complete.

A new academic year was looming so the timing was perfect. The new logo and branding had been developed, polished and tweaked. The client loved it; the Board gave the go-ahead – a new era was about to begin. Job done? Not quite!

Given that the previous incarnation of the brand was outdated, irrelevant and unprofessional, the updated version offered a complete u-turn – it highlighted the essence of the College, appealed to the target audience and eased it above and beyond it’s competitors. A strategically driven solution had really hit the mark. The only thing left was the physical transition from the old look to the new look. At last, the brand was becoming a reality and the previous incarnation was heading for retirement.

And that was almost what happened!

A meaty checklist of recommendations for the client was quickly whittled down (by the client) to a small number that were deemed to be ‘high priority’ – enough to get by in the (very) short term. Nowhere near enough to support the new brand though, especially when the new brand was still being used alongside the old brand. In fact, there was an abundance of contrasting logos, confusing messaging, an assortment of ancient and current photography, shoddy ‘in-house’ promotional material – in essence a real eclectic mix of old and new. If the brand was struggling before, the situation was becoming increasingly misleading and the ‘short-term’ quickly became indefinite.

So with the college in visual turmoil, it could only rely on it’s reputation and word-of-mouth (by present students or alumni) as a means to attract new students. It didn’t seem to understand the dangers of Chinese whispers (maybe via social media) or that the uncertainty within the brand was an issue. With such a blasé attitude towards attracting ‘the best and the brightest’ students the college was running the risk of becoming disconnected from the people they were trying to attract. They were sending out mixed messages about who they were and what they stood for. It looked unprofessional, hardly a good advert for savvy students who were deciding where to continue their education.

Could this have been avoided?

Definitely! If the brand-spanking new look had been rolled out appropriately, steadily, consistently and positively by the college, all this uncertainly could have been avoided. By now, the brand could have been well established and recognisable, and, by doing their bit, the College could have begun to see a return on investment.

And what of the college? Well, months passed, a new academic year began and still the rebrand lay dormant.