The marketing of higher education is at the forefront of discussion at The University of Montana this week. On Tuesday, Nov. 1, the University Council heard a presentation about the development of a brand strategy at UM.
Beth Hammock, vice president, strategic communications and marketing for the UM Foundation, is assisting UM President Royce Engstrom by managing the project. She told the council how the brand development process will work and the expected outcomes.
"We all know The University of Montana has many outstanding characteristics," Hammock said. "The first step will be discerning which qualities are uniquely ours. Then, we will define and refine the UM brand in a way that helps the University better meet its goals."
Hammock says expected outcomes include:
Enhanced faculty, staff and student recruitment and retention;
Increased alumni engagement;
And more philanthropic and legislative support.
A 20-member task force made up of faculty, staff, alumni and a student is advising University leaders on the project. Jakki Mohr, an internationally recognized marketing professor and Regents Professor at UM, serves on the task force. She explains why branding is so important to UM.
"Successful organizations recognize that a strategic branding initiative is a necessity in a competitive environment where people have many choices," Mohr said. "In fact, most successful companies would not imagine they could be successful without strategic branding."
Mohr says branding is particularly important to organizations that provide services – including educational institutions – "given the difficulty in evaluating quality and experience."
The UM branding campaign will include all facets of the University.
"A branding campaign requires a careful blending of programs, quality delivery of those programs, and communication about those programs to the market," Mohr said.
The University will contract with a higher education marketing firm that has worked with other public universities in developing brand strategies. The firm will collaborate with the task force to listen to representatives of all of the University’s constituencies. The process will include a research and discovery phase, development of a verbal and visual messaging platform, and creation of a plan for integrating the brand strategy into UM marketing and communications. The goal is to complete the work by June 30, 2012.
For more information, contact Beth Hammock, vice president, strategic communications and marketing, UM Foundation, 406-243-4609,firstname.lastname@example.org.