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Branding under the EUPRIO spotlight in Antwerp

Antwerp by night_1

Registration for EUPRIO’s 2016 conference in the delightful Belgian port city of Antwerp is now open. here Nic Mitchell takes a first look at what is on offer in the workshops and presentations.

Why should fee-paying international students travel half way round the world to study with you? And what will make scientists and other research partners choose your institution as their preferred partner?

The answer often rests on how your students, employees and alumni transmit your brand.

Living the brand

Looking at the Cathedral and the statue of Brabo, Antwerp

Looking at the Cathedral and the statue of Brabo, Antwerp

So this year EUPRIO’s annual conference – hosted by the University of Antwerp, Belgium, from 1-3 September – is focusing on ‘Living the brand’ and tackling some of the thorny questions, such as:

  • How monolithic should a university brand be?
  • Is education branding different from company branding?
  • Can marketing and communication departments effectively involve students, staff and partners in promoting a university and, thereby, support student recruitment and the dissemination of research results?

Among the strong line-up of speakers from across Europe will be Alain Mayné and Ronane Hoet from Belgian branding consultants, Hoet & Hoet, who will be getting to grips with why branding is essential for universities.

They will tackle many of the basic tenets, such as what exactly is a brand? In which areas is it used? How is it built? And what are the trends in university branding?

Developing consistent messaging

Chris North

Chris North

Chris North from the UK, a specialist in branding higher education and healthcare, will explain in his session how to develop, communicate and manage consistent brand messages in devolved, empowered, academic-led institutions.

His workshop on ‘Herding cats – developing consistent brand messaging in universities’ will explore the challenges and difficulties of brand consistency and why it is important in an increasingly competitive higher education market.

He will ask whether academic independence necessarily means brand anarchy, especially in today’s 24-hour social media environment when academics feel free to pursue their media agenda to their hearts content.

What is the DNA of your brand?

From France, Laurence Ecobichon will look at the specific example of developing a brand strategy to enhance the reputation at LaSalle Beauvais, an institution of 2,500 engineering students, and a member of the global network of La Salle Universities, which has over one million students worldwide.

Laurance Ecobichon

Laurance Ecobichon

The school has a unique and recognised position in French higher education and Laurence, its director of marketing, communications & fundraising, will explain the approach taken to build a brand policy, how it conducted an awareness audit with internal and external audiences, and defined purpose, values, vision, and brand features.

She will also outline how she manages the annual major fundraising campaign.

Postgraduate education

Postgraduate branding throws up special challenges, particularly for the increasing number of European universities having to charge full cost tuition fees to international students.

In their lecture, Tim Rogers, vice-president for Enrolment Management at the American University of Paris, and Edwin van Rest, chief executive officer of Dutch-based study choice platform, StudyPortals, will look at the role branding in postgraduate higher education.

Their talk will draw on unique student behaviour data of the global student market and in-depth cases at London School of Economics and American University of Paris to highlight how to develop an education brand for the postgraduate market, including lessons from other industries.

Path doesn’t always run smoothly

A Danish case of learning the hard way about the interdependence between external and internal branding will be presented by Svend Aage Morgensen, head of communication and press in the Rector’s office at Aarhus University.

“The most hated document in the university’s history”, said one employee about the branding strategy meant to strengthen the University’s competitiveness in the international market.

In Svend’s workshop, he will examine why a rather monolithic branding strategy following a major merger was ditched after five years and why the University is currently developing a new strategy.

In particular, he will look at the tension between internal culture, management vision and the brand as seen from an external perspective.

Find out more

Sofia M Westerberg

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the conference scientific committee, said: “With these different perspectives of the concept of branding, the Euprio conference in Antwerp will give an excellent opportunity to dwell on all the possibilities and challenges that communication departments within higher education institutions face every day.”

See here for the EUPRIO 2016 conference website.

There is a full list of speakers here.

Register here.

The registration fee is €600 for 2016 EUPRIO members and €800 for non-members.