Last week we had BrandView and at some point the discussions kinda lost their basic direction and entered the educational field. Thank God, we were still talking about branding somehow. Due to the variety of persons and their backgrounds inevitably we landed on a subject that I really hated at first, but it became quickly very arousing. In other words Cristi (from Advero) pointed out that there are just a few Universities in Iasi which try or have tried to create a brand. And I think everybody there agreed to his point.
I wasn’t quite happy because we lost ourselves in a never-ending conversation and we couldn’t get to a conclusion. Soooooo, I am bringing this subject into discussion here and now. Let’s hear what you guys and girls have to say about universities and their brands!
But first let me tell you what I see. I am coming from an institution that already has a brand, in fact I think it’s a pretty strong one. But that came in time. I remember back in 1999 when this institution changed its name into FEAA I was a student in the second year. My perception then was that it sounded longer and boring. FEAA (Facultatea de Economie si Administrarea Afacerilor)! I also remember that my colleagues used to say identify themselves better with ISE (Institutul de stiinte economice) not with the new brand. Even now if I were to ask them about what faculty they graduated from, they will answer ISE. Generations changed and now the students’ answer has changed. I graduated from FEAA! Sounds better doesn’t it? There is even a better part in all that. We used to whisper when we said we graduated from ISE, now students say it like it’s natural – FEAA! My first conclusion … yes we have a good, renowned brand but also we gained a lot of pride. And with that we score some major popularity points!
Years have passed and now I switched sides and became a teacher. The truth is that now I am identifying myself a lot better with FEAA. I even subscribe to its corporative culture. I have feelings for this school and it hurts seeing a student writing on a paper FEEA instead of FEAA. My second conclusion … the perception of good and powerful brand is also present at the professors’ level.
Why is it that other faculties don’t have brands? It is obvious that they need those brands. One of the major problems of any faculties is the absence of demand. High school graduates choose other options (like FEAA) and turn down offers like History, Math, Physics, Chemistry, Foreign Languages and Literature etc, etc. Try asking graduates from those faculties why is that and I think the easiest and quickest answers will be that at FEAA everybody graduates, that we promote mediocrity and we see education as a business. (But, in fact, education is a business. If look deeper you can see demand, offers, clients, products, finance, accounting, revenue, ROI and other business related things.) That absence of demand is the result of many factors, one of which I think is the absence of a brand. How many of those graduates ever felt the need to identify themselves with a corporate culture, with a brand or with a set of values like we have at FEAA. What if the corporate UAIC brand (Univeristatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza) is not enough? There is no argument, UAIC is a powerful brand renowned, both at the regional and at the national level. But what if that is not enough?
My point is how do you market a product that doesn’t have a good and powerful brand?
I am asking you:
How can you create a brand at this level?
What does it take to create brand equity for a university?