An exploration of Branding approaches in UK Universities
Authors: Chapleo, C.
Journal: International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing
Abstract This exploratory paper considers the current state of UK HE branding; in particular, conceptualisations and approaches. It is driven by calls in the literature for clearer understanding and application of branding in Higher Education (HE).
Objectives of the research, drawn from literature, were to explore conceptualisations of branding in the UK HE sector, as well as current challenges to branding concepts/ practice in UK HE.
The methodology was based upon depth interviews with fifteen opinion leaders and opinion formers, specifically Heads of Marketing or External Relations in UK HE. Findings suggest that branding is a key issue for UK universities but an overall conceptual model for brands in the HE sector remains challenging, although parallels with corporate branding are drawn. However, simplistic adoption of corporate branding does not offer a clear solution and the requirement for a conceptual framework particular to the sector is evident. In exploring conceptual frameworks, experiential branding and internal branding are discussed as possible approaches that may offer a route for differentiation that universities seek. Whilst developing a clear conceptual model is the key challenge identified, limited and variable understanding of the branding concept, and limited genuine differentiation around which to build a brand were also notable challenges.
Overall, significant branding opportunities and challenges in a changing sector are discussed. Conclusions argue that corporate branding, experiential branding and internal branding literature all have a degree of applicability but clearly further empirical work is needed to advance this important field
Preferred by: Chris Chapleo