How can you make the heart of your institution — your students — the heart of your brand? We asked a team of experts for their tips:
Make student stories central to your content strategy
Want to promote your institution’s successes and innovations? Don’t forget that students aren’t just consumers of your stories. They are your story.
“The goal ultimately is to make students the stars. When you tell their stories in real, ungroomed ways, it’s powerful,” says Alex Hummel, former director of news services and public relations at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh (now the associate vice president for communications at University of Wisconsin System). “Students are our brand personified.”
Get students involved from the start
Making students some of your branding campaign’s first adopters generates messages that are rich and real.
Luanne Lawrence, former associate chancellor of strategic communications at the University of California, Davis, (now senior consultant for LML Marketing & Communications) recommends testing ads concepts with student groups. In one instance, when students were asked to respond to the student profiles her staff had prepared, the feedback sparked a whole new level of content.
“The students got into the mode of one-upping us in terms of our stories. ‘You think Jerry’s great? Well, let me tell you about Carl!’” she said. “It was students bragging about other students. It was from the heart. And it was a tremendous morale booster for our staff to learn those amazing stories and have a role in retelling them.”
Try novel ways to collect brand stories
Smile for the camera! Virginia Tech experienced a big storytelling boost after using a photo booth to generate stories for its “I Invent” campaign.
The project gathered more than 500 stories, said Cecilia Crow, brand marketing manager. Those stories could then be leveraged in ad campaigns, internal communications, online videos and other tools that reached hundreds of thousands of people.