Small can be both beautiful and powerful when building a business school brand

05 March 2022

Andrew Crisp asks what can you do in a space 65mm x 150 mm?

If you’re involved in higher education marketing, you’ve probably realised that 65mm x 150mm is the typical size of a smartphone screen and so the answer is an awful lot.

In 2020, CarringtonCrisp worked with Roe Communications and EFMD on a report for marcoms professionals in business schools. One of the findings was that while two-thirds believed their business school was clearly differentiated from competitors, 60% think it is becoming more difficult.

The keynote speaker at this year’s AACSB International Conference is Simon Sinek, and in his book, Start with Why, he wrote, “There’s barely a product or service on the market today that customers can’t buy from someone else for about the same price, about the same quality, about the same level of service and about the same features. But if you ask most businesses why their customers are their customers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features, price or service. In other words, most companies have no clue why their customers are their customers.”

Replace product and service with degree or course, customer with student and companies with business schools, and you see the world of business education as it often is today. Although perhaps not much has changed in the last 20 years. When working for a corporate communications agency 20 years ago, a business school sent us a brief as part of a rebranding project, describing themselves as follows “It’s a sort of generic world class business school. I would find it hard to articulate any tangible differences that it would have over any of its peers and the image differences are down to nuance.”

So what can a business school do today to differentiate itself? Look at some of the home pages of school websites on a smartphone and you begin to see some answers.

Some schools think that a lot of words is the answer, it’s not. More than anything else a website needs to be visual, but pictures aren’t enough. Some schools design their sites well but still rely on images of three smiling students as the lead image; ‘three under a tree’ is not the answer. The schools that make the most of that 65mm x 150 mm space are the schools that tell a story, that don’t just sell a product, but instead build a brand, that tell you what that school believes in and how you can embrace those values. If you want to get some ideas take a look at ESCP Business School, Miami Herbert Business School or Rotterdam School of Management.

And if you want to know more about your business school branding and marketing, then join one of our long running studies, The Business of Branding or GenerationWeb.

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