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The State of Higher Ed Branding: A Survey of Marketing Leaders


The State of Higher Ed Branding: A Survey of Marketing Leaders

Apr 15, 2015By mStoner Staff

Most higher ed institutions have conducted formal brand strategy research as part of their marketing strategy. They’ve committed significant resources to it. And most have partnered with external firms to do the work.

These are some of the findings from a recent survey conducted by mStoner Inc. and Tom Hayes, Ph.D., about the state of brand strategy in higher education. The goal of the study, conducted among marketing leaders at colleges and universities, was to help leaders better understand best practice in brand strategy, give them information to support future brand strategy efforts on their campuses, and improve their higher education marketing strategy overall.

To gather this information, we sent a survey to senior marketing leaders at 450 top universities and liberal arts institutions. We asked them 25 questions about the brand strategy work they’ve done, including whether they’ve undertaken formal brand strategy work; the scope and budget for the work; the specific deliverables; who sponsored the work; and the extent to which the brand strategy has been adopted on campus.

[Tweet “The higher ed industry has come a long way in its understanding and acceptance of branding. #mStoner”]

What Did We Learn?

  • Most of the institutions that responded — 76 percent — say they have completed a brand strategy project at their institution.
  • They’ve done brand strategy work recently. Of the respondents who have done a brand strategy project, 73 percent have completed it within the past five years.
  • Institutions are committing significant resources to brand strategy work. Thirty percent of respondents said they spent over $200,000, and 53 percent have spent more than $100,000.
  • They are doing brand research among external audiences. The process included qualitative research with external constituents for 75 percent, and 73 percent said it included quantitative research with external constituents.
  • They are using external partners. Almost all — 92 percent — said they relied on an outside consultant for market research, and 78 percent relied on an outside consultant for the brand strategy phase.

Download our recently-published white paper for a full report on the survey findings. And please let us know if the findings surprise you!