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Living the brand at EUPRIO’s Antwerp conference

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How can universities encourage their staff and students to live the brand?

That’s the key question for EUPRIO’s 2016 conference at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, from September 1-3. Here Nic Mitchell talks to the organiser Jan Dries and Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the conference programme, to find out more about ‘Living the brand’.

Antwerp's Cathedral clock is ticking towards #EUPRIO2016

Antwerp’s Cathedral clock is ticking towards #EUPRIO2016

Universities as corporate brands

Universities are now often portrayed as a corporate brand to be marketed at consumers, who were once upon a time known as students?

Amazing to think that only a few years ago many people connected with higher education felt a little bit uncomfortable at such concepts.

But in these more commercial times, with higher education leaders often seeing themselves as chief executives and not just rectors or vice-chancellors, the language of marketing is widely accepted.

Universities look for competitive advantage to attract the best staff and students and strive to climb the rankings by building reputation and polish their corporate image to impress funding bodies, employers and potential partners.

Building strong brands

So, it is natural that the 2016 EUPRIO conference in Antwerp, Belgium, from 1-3 September 2016, should focus on building strong brands in higher education.

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the programme task force.

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the programme task force.

Sofia Moestedt-Westerberg, chair of the programme task force for EUPRIO’s 2016 Antwerp conference, said: “University branding is becoming an increasingly essential area of work for communicators and marketers within the university sector.

“It is a 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,” said Sofia, who heads the communication office at Blekinge Institute of Technology, Sweden.

EUPRIO 2016 in Antwerp

Hosted by the University of Antwerp, EUPRIO’s 2016 conference will bring together experts from across the sector and beyond.

The main organiser Jan Dries, the University of Antwerp’s Director of Communications, said:

“As organisations of people, universities cannot be positioned or branded as a product like a can of Coca Cola. Nonetheless, a lot of branding techniques are applicable to higher education. 

“By ‘living the brand’ we can build strong brands and corporate identities in higher education. Living the brand both inside and outside our institutions.

“Strong branding can attract customers and personnel, and keep students and staff enthusiastic about the organisation.”

Jan Dries, main organiser of #EUPRIO2016 Antwerp

Jan Dries, the main organiser of #EUPRIO2016 Antwerp

Jan says conference participants will find a framework and best practices on how to create strong identities and how to ‘live the brand’ in their own institutions.

“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,” says Jan.

“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 adds.

How monolithic should a university brand be?

Sometimes faculties or specialist laboratories can be better known than the university itself. So a key question is how centralised should a university branding be and can the reputation of well-known faculties benefit the university as a whole?

Also how best can marketing and communications departments involve students and employees, alumni and partners to promote the university?

And how important is university branding for student recruitment?

These are just some of the topics that will be put under the spotlight over three days in Antwerp.

Look out for updates about speakers, workshops and presentations in the coming months – and lets enjoy finding out more about living the brand when we come together in September at #EUPRIO2016 in Antwerp.

* Main images from University of Antwerp