In today’s digital age, higher education institutions are navigating a rapidly changing landscape, not only in terms of academic programs but also in how they are perceived and interact with the world. Branding and rebranding efforts in higher education have taken center stage, especially as tech-savvy students wield significant influence on social media. In this blog, we’ll explore the challenges and opportunities of branding and rebranding in higher ed in the age of social media.
The Impact of Tech-Savvy Students:
Today’s students, often referred to as digital natives, are tech-savvy individuals who have grown up with easy access to technology, particularly smartphones and social media platforms. Their online presence is significant, and they are active participants in shaping the digital reputation of their institutions.
Instant Feedback: Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook allow students to provide instant feedback on their educational experiences. Positive or negative, their comments can have a profound impact on the institution’s reputation.
Visibility: Social media ensures that campus events, policies, and issues are highly visible. Anything noteworthy can be shared and commented on, making institutions more transparent than ever.
Global Reach: Information travels quickly in the digital age. What happens on one campus can influence perceptions and decisions on other campuses, leading to potential challenges in maintaining a consistent brand image.
Real-Time Engagement: Higher ed institutions can use social media to engage with students and address concerns in real-time. This immediate interaction can boost student satisfaction and improve the overall learning experience.
Amplifying Achievements: Institutions can leverage social media to showcase achievements, research breakthroughs, and positive campus stories, reinforcing their brand image.
Community Building: Tech-savvy students appreciate a sense of community. Higher ed institutions can foster a positive online community, providing students with the support and connections they need.
The Rebranding Process
When considering a rebrand, higher ed institutions must take the following steps:
Research and Analysis: Understand the current perceptions of your institution. Gather data on what students, faculty, and the broader community think about your brand.
Define Objectives: Clearly outline what you aim to achieve through rebranding. Is it a shift in reputation, attracting a specific type of student, or differentiating your institution from competitors?
Involve Stakeholders: Include input from various stakeholders, such as students, alumni, faculty, and staff. They can provide valuable insights and help shape the rebranding strategy.
Craft a Compelling Story: Develop a narrative that communicates your institution’s values, strengths, and uniqueness. A compelling story can resonate with tech-savvy students and create an emotional connection.
Implement Visual Identity: Refresh your logo, colors, and visual elements to align with the rebrand. Visual identity is a key element in conveying the new brand image.
Engage on Social Media: Use social media platforms to roll out the rebrand. Share the story, the new visual identity, and the reasons behind the change. Encourage engagement and feedback.
Case Study: Arizona State University (ASU):
ASU provides a remarkable example of a successful rebranding effort in the social media age. With a commitment to innovation and accessibility, ASU rebranded itself as “The New American University.” They embraced social media to communicate their values and achievements, engaging students and the wider community.
ASU’s social media presence reflects their commitment to student success, research innovation, and positive societal impact. They use platforms like Twitter and YouTube to share stories of students’ accomplishments, faculty research, and campus life.
By harnessing social media and engaging with tech-savvy students, ASU successfully rebranded itself as an institution dedicated to making quality education accessible and fostering a culture of excellence.
Branding and rebranding in higher education have taken on a new dimension in the age of social media and tech-savvy students. Institutions must navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities presented by the digital landscape. Engaging with students, addressing their concerns, and showcasing the institution’s strengths are crucial aspects of branding and rebranding efforts. By crafting compelling narratives and utilizing social media effectively, higher ed institutions can establish a brand image that resonates with the expectations of the digital generation and remains relevant in the evolving landscape of education.