Rivals - every higher education institution has them, and almost every student will dedicate their time, energy and gallons of face-paint defending their school against them.  On the surface, a rivalry simply is a competition toward the same goal. But in an ambitious industry, where the majority of colleges and universities out there are still trying to differentiate themselves from their competition, the rivalry is a fight for uniqueness. Marketing those differences is a crucial element in our higher education campaigns. One of the ways we help our higher education clients set themselves apart is by first helping them identify what their true differentiations are and then communicating those through clear, concise messaging.

A few years ago, I oversaw the website redesign for a small but prestigious private university in Pennsylvania. The school swore that what made them different from their competition was the fact that they were a “college-like university,” meaning they offered all the features of a university such as multiple disciplines, diversity and prestige, but still possessed the qualities of a smaller, close-knit collegiate community that was dedicated to providing one-on-one attention to their students. Initial research, however, delivered the biggest upset of the season – no less than five other universities were using the tagline, “College-Like University.” The good news though, was that upon further research, we uncovered some true distinguishing characteristics upon which this university was able to build its brand.

For prospective students who are considering your institution, perception is indeed reality. With each incoming class of freshmen, a university’s web and social media presence become increasingly important in conducting successful branding. As such, the ways in which universities establish themselves as unique carry a tremendous amount of weight. Marketing higher education institutions in this manner should be given ample consideration.