Renea Morris

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Branding OHIO: A brand is more than meets the eye

Whether it’s the symbol for Apple or the familiar script of Disney, brands are everywhere. But the symbol or the tagline isn’t the most important part of the brand – what really matters is what lies underneath the brand, that is, the promise it makes to its audiences. For a college or university, a good brand is what makes a prospective student determine that your institution is the one for them.

At Ohio University, we've recently begun to revitalize our brand. We've conducted some research that has informed some decisions and confirmed some suspicions about our brand. For example, we’ve concluded that two attributes of the University brand are "enriching" and "student-centered."

We are a University that values the student experience. In fact, the University’s vision to become the best transformative learning community is rooted in the student-centered, enriching, and transformative experiences our students, faculty and staff live every day.

As you'll see in the revised branding guidelines on the new OHIO Branding website, the purpose for the updated guidelines are to address ways to maintain consistency in the way we communicate with all of our various audiences. A litmus test for how we communicate with our audiences would be to ask, "Does the message portray Ohio University as an enriching, student-centered institution?"

This article is the first in a series of articles that will discuss Ohio University’s brand, the guidelines and demonstrate examples of how we’re fulfilling our brand promise to enrich the world by helping students fulfill their promise.

Here’s a short quiz* to guide your thinking about branding and its importance to Ohio University:

1. The truest test of a brand is:
    a. People remember it
    b. People like it
    c. People seek it out, will support it, and will pay more for it.
    d. None of the above

2. The value of a brand is proven when:
    a. Your endowment takes a downturn
    b. The marketplace becomes even more competitive
    c. You decide to open a branch campus
    d. All of the above

If you answered “c” and “d,” you’re on your way to understanding why Ohio University must have an enduring brand – that, according to Robert A. Sevier, Ph.D., “makes a promise that matters, communicates your promise, lives your promise, and strengthens your promise.”

* Taken from “Building a Brand that Matters,” by Robert A. Sevier, Ph.D.