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Branding Education 2017-12-02

Strategies for Education to Help Stand Out From the Crowd

A new and innovative strategic approach to building a powerful and visible presence within the Higher Education market is through creation of a unique “own-able” Branded Environment.

By Reetika Bose Feature Writer

Branding in education is based on aspects of experience, community, and future employability. If you really want your brand to evoke associations and make a better presence, try digging out for options that the personas look for in an educational institution.

The trend of being online has been on the rise in India. While 15.1 per cent of India’s population used the internet in 2013, this percentage has gone up and today, over 34.8 per cent of India’s population uses the internet. This is pretty much the reason why the online media is not just about communication, but also about marketing. Those in the business see the internet as a huge opportunity to reach out to target consumers.

Following the same path are the entrepreneurs in the education industry. Top colleges now feel the heat of internet and demand the speed of 10gbps instead of 1gbps.

Be Online

Franchise India attended the Intelligentsia Summit, hosted by CIHF, CIAC Global and The Education Post, and has got you insights from the bigwigs of the education industry of India. Speaking at the summit, Arvind Passey, Sr. Columnist- The Education Post, stated that in today’s world if one is not online, he/she does not exist.

One should be exposed to technology at a younger age as education revolves around it. In India, the oldies believed education to be more serious than entertainment requiring hard work, commitment, dedication and passion. According to them, higher education totally requires concentration with little or no access to technology. But times have changed.

But is being online the biggest factor that decides the success of your brand of education? The ever increasing competition for student enrolment has created a strong need for Higher Education institutions to differentiate themselves. Effective strategic planning and brand management require more than traditional advertising, marketing or identity development. Institutions that craft, present and manage a unified brand message, experience and environment achieve a competitive advantage in recruiting, retaining and building loyalty amongst their students, parents, staff and faculty. Even though one might not have been a part of either IIM or IIPM, one would have fairly consistent opinions about these institutions. Such is the nature of education branding - deeply etched in the minds of the people. It’s intangible, highly perception driven and builds over time.

Be Offline

Professor Furqan Qamar, Secretary General- Association of Indian Universities said that branding works if we have teachers, learning media, facilities, students. “This requires substantive investment. Institutes these days are substituting teachers with technology due to shortage of teachers and its massive reach. They do not realise the fact that teachers are indispensable without which no institute can run. Harvesting upon this fact, top Universities like Harvard, which are technologically advanced, are planning to decrease the ratio of teachers to students from 1:8 to 1:5 and invest substantially in libraries,” he said. Adding further, he stressed that the investment in teachers, laboratories, libraries, infrastructure, teaching facilities should be foremost and is the need of the hour.

“We as teachers should realise that with changing times we also should change leveraging technology for education. In a few years from now, we’d be competing for more students and teachers and worried about retaining them,” Professor Qamar was quoted saying. Thus, according to him, it is not just being online, but investing on such facilities by colleges/universities, that would help build up their brand.

The other side

But what really comes out of branding an education entity? As Professor Qamar put it, branding does affect some things that go against education. Justifying this, he said that the Indian higher education is faced by three main challenges namely:

  1. Accessibility – Higher education should be available and pursued by everyone.
  2. All sects – The gross enrolment ratio should be 100 per cent for higher education. Earlier dalits, tribals and women in rural areas which constitute a meagre two per cent of population were deprived of education. Now, with the reservation quota in education, these sects are able to pursue their higher education.
  3. Affordability – With top rated colleges charging enormous fee, good education is deprived to many. Branding the institute adds to the cost, thus, making education unaffordable.

Thus, branding of education has its own pros and cons. While online presence is indispensable in today’s technology driven world wherein to make your presence felt to a massive population, branding of institute/education through other means is a must.

A new and innovative strategic approach to building a powerful and visible presence within the Higher Education market is through creation of a unique “own-able” Branded Environment. Development of a Branded Environment is a means to creating consistency and cohesion among an institution’s contact points including the physical environment, marketing communications materials, internet presence, signage, displays & exhibits. Thus, to be a successfully branded entity, you need to go with a 360 degree approach for making your education visible and in-demand.

When your audience knows exactly what your school stands for, and feels that this mission aligns with their goals and values, you are well on your way to building trust and loyalty.

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