Building a Unique Brand within Higher Education

We’ve previously covered the importance of branding within the higher education sector, but investing in brand and standing out while doing it are two separate things. Luckily the Adgen team is here to help. Here are a few places to start when building a unique brand.

Establish Brand Colours, Logo, and Fonts

There’s only so many colours in the rainbow, yet endless combinations of them. Take a look at your main competitors and select an colour scheme that helps differentiate your brand from the pack. Make sure your fonts and logos are legible, accessible, and easily replicated across all forms of written and digital communications.

Next select a logo that reflects your institution. Compelling graphics are one thing, but they need to make sense. If you can’t explain why a llama or jellyfish represents your brand, they’re best left out of the design. Pulse check the logo across members of your team to ensure it’s clear, representative of the organisation, and  most importantly, not already taken. A quick reverse image search on google can help identify if you’ve accidentally cloned another brand’s logo.

Once all of these elements are established, be sure to incorporate this iconography throughout all your materials. This should be reflected across different courses, programmes, and faculties. Consistency is key.

Highlight What Makes Your School Special

Academic success and desire for lifelong knowledge are commonplace at universities, so don’t lead out your messaging with those points. It’s been done before and is likely live within your competitor’s ads right now.

Instead, zero in on what makes you unique. Perhaps it’s your geographic area; somewhere near the sea side, a bustling city centre, or a particular historical site. It could be a specific area of expertise you excel in, such as a renowned module or a field of research. You could emphasize partnerships with the local community, or fundraising feats. Whatever that unique identifier is, communicate it proudly to stand out for the right reasons.

Craft a Unique Brand Personae/ Tone of Voice

What you say matters, but just as important is how you say it. As a large brand with many subsets, it’s critical to establish a central, consistent voice to run through all your communications. The challenge here is creating one that is both replicable across all mediums and not a carbon copy other institutions.  

All higher education institutions want to be approachable, encouraging, confident and empowering, so think beyond those staples. Is your institution serious and sombre, or can humour be added into the mix? Do you seek to have all the answers or be the school known to question the status quo? It’s easier said than done, but try to think outside the box on other ways to add to your communication.

Aesthetic Style

Once you’ve identified the key elements of your brand, the last step is to lock down an aesthetic layout. While brand guidelines help to craft the core identity, aesthetic style is more about how that brand is presented over time across all marketing materials. For example, campaigns will need to be represented through print, billboards, digital ads and social media, all which speak together to same theme, so locking down a consistent image style will help.

Naturally each faculty, and department will have their own nuance, but aesthetically, each piece of creative should fit within the same world. This could be the placement of logo or a size of font. It could be a series of lifestyle images or buildings around campus. Some brands have simply used a colourful curved line that can be seen in all visual representations to tie different ideas together.

Work towards templatizing your creative so that no matter who touches it, the end result will compliment the brand’s image.  

Completing a Unique Brand

There you have it! Four considerations when designing a brand that will help set you apart from your competitors. Maintain consistency over time, promote it wisely and a reputation will build.

Need any further advice on your brand strategy and presence? The Adgen team is here to help out. Reach out to us on socials or our website to find out more on how we can help make your unique brand stand out.