Guest blog post by Ms Barbara Coward, Vice-President of Innovation and Development at Converge Consulting
If you had to name the most valuable brand in the world, what would you guess?
Here’s a hint. Are you looking for the answer on your iPhone, iPad, or MacBook Air?
Yup, you’ve got it.
But what are the most valuable brands on a national level?
According to Brand Finance
, here are some examples from around the world:
When it comes to the most valuable brands in their respective countries, participants at the 2015 EFMD Conference for International & External Relations, PR, Marketing, Communication and Alumni Professionals
might have a slight difference of opinion.
After all, the external relations/marketing directors and deans at leading business schools in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, and the United States are understandably biased.
Like their corporate peers, they are dedicated to building a distinctive brand that differentiates their products (or in this case, programs) in a competitive marketplace – and with a lot less resources than Shell, Nestle, Vodafone – and certainly Apple.
So the million-dollar (or Euro) question becomes how can you do that in increasingly crowded marketplace?
Hence, the gathering of peers in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University
to tackle a topic addressed in nearly every business school curriculum, but not as often as it could be for the industry at large.
There were numerous plenary sessions and workshops as part of “Understanding, Identifying and Building a Distinctive Business School Brand
Listing all the lessons learned in this blog would be like trying to cover all of the 1,001 acres of Stanley Park in 10 minutes (and yes, I did attempt that thanks to a very kind taxi driver who also doubled as a photographer for some scenic shots).
So here’s a recap of some highlights:Welcome and Opening RemarksAllison Lloyd, Associate Dean, The Hong Polytechnic University of Hong Kong
Plenary – Local InputBlaize Horner Reich, Dean, Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of BusinessDaniel Shapiro, Former Dean, Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of Business
- Branding need to be strong, authentic, and connect emotionally
- Business schools with strong brands will attract the best students
- Successful brands need to speak to all stakeholders
Beedie is a pioneer in innovative programs.
- Launched 1st EMBA in Canada and 2nd in North America in 1968
- Created an EMBA in Aboriginal Business and Leadership
- Introduced the first Management of Technology MBA in Canada 15 years ago
- Most universities in Canada are public so business schools are administered by the provinces and tuition fees are set by the ministries in each area
- As a result, public institutions don’t have control setting tuition. BC is capped at 2% a year for the past decade.
Beedie differentiates on three themes:
“We chose them because we do them well, not because it is trendy.” – Daniel Shapiro
- Entrepreneurship Innovation & Technology
- Globalization & Emerging Markets
- Society Environment and Governance
The city of Vancouver as an asset to the business school:
Plenary – Story Branding: How to Create a Storytelling CultureMegan Sheldon, Brand Mythologist, Narrative Communications
- One of the top 5 places to live in the world so highly professional people gravitate to cities like Vancouver.
- Home to high tech, high impact companies. Telus, one of the largest Canadian communication companies, is building massive complex down the street focused on innovation. Sony just moved entire digital animation to Vancouver. Lots of start-ups and Vancouver is ranked as one of the top 9 places in the world to be a tech entrepreneur. (See Ranking -- And Understanding -- The World's Top Startup Hubs [Video])
- Gateway to Asia. A large amount of trade and investment flowing in both directions. It takes two days less for container ships to get to Vancouver from Shanghai than to Long Beach.
- Climate – rain forest with an emphasis on sustainability. Greenpeace was founded in Vancouver. In addition, BC is home to 198 First Nation or Aboriginal Communities – almost all forestry, mining and energy projects are on their land and they have rights to negotiate the sustainable use of natural resources.
- Canada is a mining power in the world. 58% of junior mining companies in the world are from Canada and the majority of them are in Vancouver – over 1,000 are within 5 blocks of the downtown Graduate School location.
- Branding is what you feel first – that initial impression
- Think about your initial impact
- Look at your business school from a distance
- Everyone who comes to your business school has their own story
- It’s not about what sells. It’s about what connects
- Why needs to be at the center of your purpose, cause or belief
- People don’t connect with what you do, they connect with why you do it
- Share your “why”
- Think about your business school as fitting in one of these archetypes:
Magician (Apple); Outlaw (Harley Davidson); Jester (Pepsi); Lover (Hallmark); Everyman (IKEA); Caregiver (Campbell Soup); Ruler (Mercedes Benz); Creator (Lego); Innocent (Disney); Sage (Google); Explorer (JEEP); Hero (Nike)Plenary – Framing and Making Strategic Choices for Your BrandJulian Stubbs, Brand Strategist and Co-Founder, Up There, Everywhere
The Science of Influence and PersuasionDil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School
- Great brands own propositions. What is your value proposition?
- Too many brands say too much
- Think of the one word or phrase that you own for your business school
- Find your own positioning, understand the competition
- Use inbound marketing and content marketing
- Take a position and own it
- “Me too” doesn’t cut it
- Brandtags.com is a great resource
* significant * personal * unexpected
- Can’t persuade all of the people all of the time.
- The most powerful gifts are:
Plenary: Leveraging Local Identity and Attributes for Global SuccessAli Dastmaulchian, Professor of Organization Studies and International Business, University of Victoria, Peter B. Guftavson, School of Business
- Leverage reciprocity to influence and persuade. Do something for the other person first. (This video explains the concept in a compelling and cheeky way!)
- Focus on scarcity. You stand to gain more attention to demonstrate what you lose vs. what you gain. It’s in our DNA.
- Mention a weakness that you can back up with a huge strength for authenticity.
- Show consensus. People like to do what everyone else is doing.
- Don’t always go with the most successful and prestigious testimonials. Showing the likes of Richard Branson on your business school website doesn’t cut it. People want to relate to others who are similar. They want a testimonial from “someone like me”.
- People like to do business with people they like. Give compliments. Remember small thank yous. Send greeting cards. Read the story of how Joe Girard became the top salesman in the world.
Think about branding in connection with reasons for choosing an MBA
Giorgia Miotto, Director of External Relations and Communication, EADA Business School Barcelona
- Content of Programs
Adrienne Nazon, Executive Director of Marketing, University of Chicago Booth School of Business
- Incorporated Barcelona in our business school logo to promote location
- We talk about quality of education then location of Barcelona. Identify what is unique.
- We showcase lifestyle and how easy it is to live in Barcelona in our blogs
- We "promote" Barcelona as a place where participants can find the best environment to develop innovative business ideas and projects
- Leverage blogs and social media for inbound marketing
- Identify your brand narrative.
- Address and consider expanding the aspects of your brand that reflect your individual brand story. Consider unique combinations in establishing brand differentiators.
How Do You Use Alumni to Enhance Your Brand?Daniel Cohen, CEO, Graduway
- Knowledge – What do you offer?
- Is it unique? Is it easily repeatable?
- How do you take your brand outside your home campus?
- Consider the impact of your name in markets outside your home market. The marketing strategy could change depending on the strength/intuitive nature of the name. For example, we couldn’t be just Booth. We have to be Chicago Booth for branding outside home campus.
- Goal is to increase influence around the world in addition to attracting the very best students
- Borrow from equity of parent brand where the parent brand has greater market equity than the sub-brand
- Always tie ourselves to the University of Chicago brand to influence the broader market outside Chicago because they have greater awareness than we do
- #1 reason candidates select the business school is career outcome and impact. This is according to our primary research.
- Need to select alumni in local markets to tell their stories. This is a localization strategy that could help relevance for a market outside of your home market.
- Building school brands depends heavily on engaging your alumni.
- 5 key components to have an engaged alumni network
1. Trusted - needs to feel trusted and leveraging the branding of your institution
2. Connected - needs to be really easy for your alumni to use by being integrated with social networks and available on web and mobile platforms.
3. Exclusive - needs to provide an exclusive value offering to alumni that they cannot get elsewhere - that exclusive value proposition is both professional and social.
4. User friendly - the user experience needs to be cutting edge
5. Involved - needs to provide a network where alumni themselves take ownership for providing the content.
6. Any school serious about their brand needs to think seriously about how to engage their alumni better.Barbara Coward, VP of Innovation and Development, Converge Consulting
SummaryAlison Lloyd, Associate Dean, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University Hong Kong
- Alumni are one of the top 5 resources that prospective students use to research b-schools
- Majority of b-school alumni say their graduate management education boosted their earnings and purchasing power (2015 GMAC Alumni Perspectives Report)
- 9 in 10 alumni would recommend their business program to others (2015 GMAC Alumni Perspectives Report)
- Leverage this “good will” and “proof points” to enhance your brand through inbound marketing (blogs, social media, videos) to boost engagement
- By telling a great story, you can change the way others (prospective students and alumni) behave with your brand
- Identify how you stand out from the crowd
- Build a brand that appeals to both students and alumni
- Brands can be fortified through stories
- Craft your distinctive brand story to forge emotional connections that allow prospects to increase comprehension of the brand
- Brands connect on an emotional level when done right
- Stories needs to engage internally and externally
- Brand authenticity - needs to come from heart
- Brands need to emanate through all different touch points
- Craft through brand ambassadors offline and online
- What other comments/suggestions do you have to share about building a distinctive business school brand? (Or feel free to comment on your favorite places in Vancouver for my next trip there!)
EFMD hope to see you again in Edinburgh at next year’s conference that will be hosted by University of Edinburgh Business School
, from the 13 to 15 April 2016.