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Deadline soon for EUPRIO’s 2016 conference

Antwerp town hall at night

The deadline is rapidly approaching to register for EUPRIO’s 2016 annual conference being hosted by the University of Antwerp in Belgium from September 1-3, writes Nic Mitchell

 

Waiting your arrival: Central Station, Antwerp

Waiting your arrival: Central Station, Antwerp

The closing date to sign-up for this year’s event is Monday 22 August, which is also the revised deadline to enter the EUPRIO Awards.

Unsurprisingly, the 2016 conference has attracted considerable interest as it is focusing on one of the most talked-about issues challenging higher education marketeers and communication professionals – living the brand.

Branding moving up the agenda

Branding has certainly moved up the agenda as universities move outside traditional markets for students & staff and look further afield for new business & research partners.

EUPRIO’s Living the brand conference offers the chance to hear from leading experts about the latest thinking and trends and lives up the main purpose of our association – sharing best practice across European higher education frontiers.

Universities often pay a small fortune on expensive consultants to advise their leaderships on branding strategy, but according to some commentators it is not always money well spent.

Failing to stand out

In recent months, a number of education media mouthpieces and branding experts have voiced concern at the failings of universities to stand out from the crowd.

One of the most hard-hitting criticisms came from German-based ICEF Monitor, a dedicated market intelligence resource for the international education industry.icef-monitor-logo

Under the headline ‘Can you spot the difference? The search for a distinct education brand’, they said on 30 May that despite all the investment and greater attention to branding these days many education brands look remarkably similar.

“Branding experts are noticing a distinct ‘sameness’ in higher education marketing that is remarkably persistent across institutions and borders”, said the ICEF Monitor.

Taglines sound the same

University taglines came in for severe criticism, with universities using strap-lines like ‘You First’, ‘As distinctive as you’, ‘Become Exceptional’, ‘Be inspired’ and ‘It’s meant to be’.

“Look away from your screen for a second, can you remember any? asked the ICEF Monitor.

Photography in institutional brochures and websites was also attacked, especially the ‘Three and a Tree’ photographic cliché – “with three students of varying ethnicities and gender, dressed head-to-toe in college-branded merchandise”.

More than catchy phrases and happy pictures

The answer is to step away from any notion that branding is the sum of catchy phrases and pictures of happy students and to understand that effective branding creates a distinct personality that prospective students and their families can identify with and be attracted to.

Which is exactly what we will be doing when EUPRIO members come together in Antwerp.

EUPRIO Antwerp conference

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the EUPRIO conference task force, puts it like this: “Branding is much more than simply logos: It is a whole concept of expectations, emotions, meanings and values to students, employees and the surrounding society.

“The notion of branding needs to be embraced from a number of different perspectives and throughout the whole organisation, giving a common identity and the unique characteristics of the university.”

And why is that important?

Jan Dries, chief organiser of EUPRIO 2016 in Antwerp

Jan Dries, chief organiser of EUPRIO 2016 in Antwerp

Jan Dries, main organiser of the EUPRIO Antwerp conference and director of communications at the University of Antwerp, says: “Strong branding can attract customers and personnel, and keep students and staff enthusiastic about the organisation.

“Today, more than ever, our staff and students are the transmitters of the brand – whether it is internal branding, employer banding, corporate branding or product branding.

“Marketing and Communications departments need to play with these four segments in an agile way, finding the right balances between channels, messages and audience. One brand, one voice is our aim,” he says.

More details about the EUPRIO conference can be found here.

LINKS and further reading

Conference registration for EUPRIO 2016 in Antwerp

EUPRIO Awards

Antwerp conference speakers

Can you spot the difference? The search for a distinct education brand’, ICEF Monitor May 30 2016:

Branding under the EUPRIO spotlight in Antwerp – EUPRIO blog

Branding is everywhere in higher education – looking forward to EUPRIO’s Living the brand Antwerp conference – Nic Mitchell’s DelaCourCommunications.com blog