My Turn: Updating the University of New Hampshire’s brand identity
Having served as chief marketing officer for several consumer-based companies, I have long known that targeted, consistent marketing is essential to business success.
The marketplace for education is becoming ever more competitive, particularly in a time of constrained finances. The University of New Hampshire now must compete, not only with better-resourced public universities, but with private schools offering steep discounts to talented students. In order to advance its mission of service to the state, UNH must do what any business would do in similar circumstances: market its programs in a manner that is targeted and consistent. The foundation for targeted, consistent marketing is careful, mission-focused brand design.
Brand identity and design is more than a logo. It is a statement that positions a product or service within the marketplace and against the competition. It is rooted in a clear view of the qualities that distinguish the product, as well as research about consumer attitudes and a survey of the competition. Not only is this approach the most effective in achieving sales objectives, but it is less expensive in the long run.
UNH is doing its market research and gauging the competition. It embraces its mission as a public research university meeting the challenges of the modern economy and a global society. It is innovating in the ways it serves the state of New Hampshire through its teaching, research and outreach. It is charting new, more cost-effective routes to degrees for traditional students, as well as enrichment programs for students in K-12, and online certificate and master’s programs for working professionals. The UNH School of Law and the new Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics are extending the university’s reach statewide and nationally. UNH should adopt a brand identity that asks all of us who think we know it to look again, with a fresh perspective, and that suggests both its traditions and its aspirations to those who know nothing at all about them.
Logo designs are easy targets for criticism. Design looks easy, but strategy comes hard. I hope that the New Hampshire community will support the university’s efforts to develop a marketing approach that parallels the quality of its service to the state. After all, this year, UNH delivered $1.4 billion to our economy on the basis of a $35 million state investment. I support this effort and recognize that the dividend will be new financial resources that go to teaching and student aid.
(Jude Blake is a trustee of the University System of New Hampshire. Her business experience includes senior marketing executive roles at Cablecom, AT&T, PepsiCo, and General Mills.)