Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Measuring A College or University's Brand Equity

Someone recently asked me how one should approach measuring a college or university's brand equity. Here is what I told her.

We would use the same approach outlined in the article I wrote whose link you attached to your question. However, here are some additional considerations for universities:
  1. I would target the following audiences: high school students who applied to the school in question (whether they were admitted or not and whether they decided to attend or not), parents of those students, high school guidance counselors, admissions directors at peer institutions, faculty, staff, current students at the school in question, alumni and board members.
  2. We would keep track of which students were accepted and which of those had decided to attend to determine how the answers varied by each of these groups.
  3. I would ask the students to which other colleges and universities they applied for admission.
  4. I might have students rank order the list of colleges and universities to which they applied in order of preference.
  5. I would customize the list of brand benefits to the college or university in question and to colleges and universities in general.
  6. This list would include these benefits at a minimum:
    • Overall reputation or prestige of the school
    • Value of a degree from this school after graduation
    • Quality of the student experience
    • Campus amenities
    • Campus aesthetics
    • Food quality
    • Campus housing quality
    • How leading-edge the labs and equipment are
    • Caliber of the student body
    • Educational quality/effectiveness
    • Quality of campus social life
    • Desirability of the neighborhood and municipality in which the school is located
    • Region of the country in which the school is located
    • Weather
    • Quality of the sports programs
    • Variety and quality of extracurricular activities
  7. I would also customize the selection of brand personality attributes to those most appropriate to colleges and universities.
  8. I would have people rank program quality for each major division – liberal arts, engineering, science, medicine, law, business, architecture, etc. This could be done at a more detailed level – sociology, psychology, anthropology, etc.
  9. We would identify correlations between answers to a variety of the questions and the overall reputation of and preference for the school.
  10. We might ask an open-ended response question regarding why they chose this school (if they did).
  11. As in all brand equity studies that we conduct, we would ask them what makes this school unique or better than the other schools that they considered (another open-ended response question).
  12. If the college or university had the resources to do this, we would conduct focus groups prior to the quantitative brand equity study to build a more robust study based on qualitative insights regarding the factors that most influenced people’s perceptions and decisions. We would conduct these groups separately for each different target audience.

While all of our brand equity studies are based on our BrandInsistence system of brand equity measurement, each study is tailored to the brand in question. I hope this helps you think about how one might develop a brand equity measurement system for a college or university.

I wish you the best.

Brad VanAuken


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