October 12, 2023
Why Messaging Matters for Your Higher Ed Brand
Picture this: You’re a student trying to choose a college or university to attend. You’re overwhelmed by all of the information, each school claiming to be the best this, the top-ranked that, and all of them are promising that “Your journey starts here.” It’s… a lot. So, how do you make an impression on students drowning in a sea of options? Enter brand messaging!
Brand messaging is like your institution’s personal elevator pitch. It’s the way you communicate your unique values, mission, and offerings to prospective students and stakeholders.
And why does that matter? We’ll break it down for you:
1. The right brand messaging will get you noticed (in a good way).
Brand messaging is an opportunity to share the real you with the world: what makes your institution the unique, fun, exciting experience you and your students know it to be. And it will quickly become a pillar of how people recognize you. Your tagline becomes a rallying cry, your mission becomes a mantra — and it’s how the world will see your institution moving forward.
Consider your brand messaging as a chance to put your best foot forward. How do you want to be perceived? What words do you want people to think of when they hear your school’s name? That’s the foundation of your brand messaging.
2. You’ll hook more right-fit students with messaging that resonates.
Students want to go where they feel welcomed; where they feel seen, heard, and comfortable. And while they may have outside influences helping to make their decision (*cough* guardians and mentors *cough*), it’s ultimately up to them where they wind up. They’ll be looking very closely at your programs, your class schedules, your campus life, and — most importantly — how it’s all presented to them.
The research they do, whether they realize it or not, is giving them an idea of what to expect when they’re on campus. If they’re reading something bland and generic, there’s a good chance they’ll believe their experience will be bland and generic. But if they’re reading something exciting, inspiring, and aspirational, well… who wouldn’t want to go there?
3. Authentic brand messaging builds trust and street cred.
Here’s a pro-marketing tip: Always, always, always honor your brand. Especially in your brand messaging — it’s kind of a cornerstone of who you are and what students and stakeholders can expect from your institution. If you’re making a promise, you need to ensure that your institution can follow through. That’s what builds credibility and respect in your brand, which strengthens trust, connection, and sense of community with your audience.
So, rather than trying to be something you’re not, embrace who you are. Because what may seem like a deterrent for some students (small or large, rural or inner-city, traditional or progressive) could be the exact reason why your institution is the perfect fit for others.
4. It’s how you stand apart and above the rest.
Think of brand messaging as your higher ed institution’s secret weapon. It’s how you communicate who you are and what you stand for to your various audiences: students, alumni, faculty and staff, and stakeholders. And it’s how you differentiate yourself from what all the other school’s are saying.
By staying true to your brand, you can effectively communicate what makes you different and why students would want to attend your school. You can capture the unique experience of your campus life, the values that your institution instills in its students and faculty, and what students can expect for their time there and beyond. Because attending college is about more than just classes and courses (which everyone is offering) — it’s about the kind of experience you can provide and the lessons learned both in and outside of the classroom.
In a world where colleges and universities are a dime a dozen, having a clear, compelling, and fun brand messaging can make all the difference to students trying to find the right fit. It can help you stand out, build trust and credibility, and create a deeper connection among your students, alumni, faculty, and staff. And from there, things can only go up.