In the modern-day, intangible assets have assumed greater importance as far as modern companies are concerned. A brand is a powerful differentiator indeed. Branding education, however, has both positive and negative implications.
Branding in education is based on aspects of experience, community, and future employability. Capturing the indelible connection between student and service has historically posed a challenge. For decades, rudimentary channels such as brochure distribution remained the status quo, while the early 2000s witnessed a shift towards SEO and SEM. Even with this shift, educational institutions are only beginning to use the digital platform at their disposal for marketing.
Consumers have become accustomed to turning toward social media for product reviews and recommendations – naturally, education is no different. Prospective students browse the web for universities and schools of calibre to get an overview of the curriculum as well as other facilities that are offered on campus. By being proactive about establishing a brand presence on these key channels, marketers can help to facilitate this discovery process and engage with potential students.
At the heart of any school is its identity and marketers often use that as the foundation to build on further marketing strategies. However, in marketing the institution, its facilities and faculty and the experience that the institution provides the focus shifts from education. Education in such a situation is made to be a commodity and a business generates from it which means that education is less about learning and more about engaging students in mindless activities which reap minimal productivity.
Furthermore, marketing education on digital platforms and promoting an experience targets a specific audience, which is often the upper class or the bourgeoisie. What this does is promote a classist culture, highlighting financial backgrounds; targeting individuals who are financially well off and puts wealth at the centre of all of this as opposed to equality of opportunity and teaching.
Moreover, when education is branded, a disparity is created within the system, promoting a classist ideology and creating a culture of inequality that eventually gives one class power the other and forces the lower class in a vicious cycle.
The brand image of an educational institute is largely determined by its students. It must be remembered that the reason for branding education and educational institutions is to shine a light on its quality, its promising calibre and on a holistic learning experience therefore that it is these outcomes, which should remain the centre of attention when divulging in marketing strategies.