| posted by Joe Hice |

Why Branding is Important to NC State

I had a good conversation today with James Gallagher from the Triangle Business Journal about university communications and our efforts to develop a new NC State television spot.  We talked about why branding is necessary in higher education and it got me thinking about a story we put together about university branding back in 2005.  I think it’s still pertinent today and have made a number of edits to bring it up to date.

Branding is an investment in the future.  It is an investment in the university’s ability to compete effectively for students, faculty, staff, and funding.

In the competitive world of higher education, universities must continually compete for top students, faculty and staff in order to remain viable.  We do not operate in a vacuum.  Our peers all market aggressively and many have already begun their own branding campaigns.

The reality is, the most recognizable university “brands” consistently attract the best students, faculty and staff; secure the most funding; gain the greatest accolades, and receive the most recognition in the press.  All of which are critical factors in the health, growth and long-term success of an institution.

The objective of our branding effort at NC State is to build the kind of public image that instills confidence.  Confidence on the part of the best students to select NC State University over one of our peer universities.  Confidence on the part of faculty and staff to want to be a part of a prestigious institution.  Confidence on the part of our alumni that their investment in time, money and passion is well placed. And confidence on the part of the Legislature and other funding bodies to invest more aggressively in an institution that is producing great returns for the state of North Carolina and the nation.

As we move forward with the creation of a new television spot, a new branding campaign, and a refreshed strategic communications plan, our efforts will focus on research and discovery at NC State, our leadership in science and technology, our global aspirations, the quality of our students, faculty and staff, the history and traditions of the university and much more.  And our efforts will be much more than just a tag line.

One voice, one message, many places.

The television spots are important and attract the most attention because they appear on athletic events.  NC State institutional television ads appear at no charge during every local, regional, or nationally televised sporting event in which Wolfpack athletic teams participate.  They also appear on the rebroadcast of NC State  athletic events, Coaches’ Shows, and more. The value of this “free” advertising could exceed $1 million annually.  If we’re fortunate enough to compete in conference championships — better yet, national championships — that number could be significantly more than $1 million.  At my old job, we estimated the value of our “free” television advertising at about $8 million annually.

Corporations know that leading brands enjoy a tremendous advantage over their competitors, and so it is with universities.  The investment we make in branding comes back to us many fold.  Failing to make that investment in such a competitive environment would most certainly come back to haunt us.

That’s what I think.  How about you?

Passion Rules!

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18 Responses to “Why Branding is Important to NC State”

  1. […] here: Why Branding is Important to NC State HiceSchool Blog By admin | category: NORTH CAROLINA STATE University | tags: 61-47-home, branding, […]

  2. Eric Larson says:

    As someone who attended and worked at Duke, I’m struck by the different approaches of the two universities. Duke is for the most part delighted with its heavy focus on research and the theoretical (its campus was modeled after an Ivy, Princeton, and it has always tried to compete with those schools in luring the best theoretical minds). Historically, NC State is much better grounded in the practical, by the very nature of its origins. I’m not sure that’s a dichotomy that needs to be touted, per se, but it’s something that appears very pronounced to the outsider. From its ag origins and forward, NC State has never been afraid to get its hands dirty. That’s something that appeals, I think, to today’s students. Meanwhile, there is sophisticated hi-tech research going on at NCSU to back up that “hands-on” application of knowledge in the “real” world.

    We’re real here.

  3. David Hunt says:

    I agree. The thing about branding is that you do it whether you think about it consciously or not. It’s like your reputation. You have one whether you talk about it or not. It’s the way people perceive you and what they expect of you based on what they know about you, whether it’s accurate or up-to-date or not.

    When I moved to North Carolina, the only thing I knew about NC State was that it had a good engineering program (my dad’s an engineer who grew up in North Carolina).

    Since then, I’ve learned so much more about NC State, about the amazing creative writing program, for example, and the students who put so much energy into service. Now my sense of the NC State brand has grown so that I think about things like creative solutions, community service, global outreach, energetic students, and economic development when I think of NC State.

    I guess I see one of the advantages of a branding effort is to take other people through the process of discovering the richness of NC State. It’s really just a question of what great aspects of the university we want to focus on this year.

  4. […] is the original post:  Why Branding is Important to NC State HiceSchool Blog By admin | category: State University Higher School | tags: apr, chief-communications, […]

  5. James C. says:

    Excellent stuff, Joe. This hits the nail on the head on the need, dire need, to improve N.C. State’s brand nationally. People outside of North Carolina know very little about N.C. State…if you tell someone you went to college in the Triangle, they’ll assume you went to UNC or Duke. I’ve even heard of folks that would tell people they went to North Carolina State and were told in reply, “You mean UNC?” That’s shameful.

    Fight the good fight. There are legions of alums like myself who get the message loud and clear…it’s time the folks at the top get it, as well.

  6. […] latest entry at hiceschool.com, “Why Branding is Important to NC State,” is a FANTASTIC piece on promoting N.C. State more effectively. I’d love to repost the […]

  7. Shan Teel says:

    Great article. I hope the administration at State AND the SID’s office read this and take it to heart. As a graduate and former football player at State, the lack of passion around NC State frustrates and disappoints me. Thanks for your comments.

  8. Don Bass says:

    This is all music to my ears. I’m a 1979 graduate of NC State and always chagrined that while we are the largest university in the state that we have allowed our image to be formulated by others. Plan your future…or others will do it for you I say. This message is one that all State Alumni, Students and Faculty will agree upon.

  9. Once again, I couldn’t agree more. As a communications professional, I really appreciate your blogs. As a former higher ed professional…you are right on. Thanks for the post, you are influencing organizations outside of higher ed.

  10. John B. says:

    Great….you have a plan and vision. Now go execute on it. Our TV ads need to get significantly better. Can we get some successful former alumni and tout them during a commercial. What a potential student wants to see is somewhere they can go that is diverse and they can achieve success, not some guy with a beard talking about NCSU.

  11. Dave Green says:

    From the Art & Science report-
    NC State’s Key Assets: Configuration–a distinctive constellation of colleges and Centennial campus.

    “Because of its focus on science, NC State has a leg up on sectors of the economy that are likely to grow over the next 10 years. Another advantage is that NC State is a strong collaborator and builds on a higher-education community of considerable vibrancy.”

    “NC State is already having national impact in Engineering and Agriculture, and these two disciplines create an interesting intersection along with strong sciences and a Vet School.”
    ………

  12. William O'Donnell says:

    Great post. NCSU needs to promote its brand more. A lot of that has to with athletics though. No matter how good your academics are, today’s students are going to be influenced by the ESPN’s and Sports Illustrated’s of the world. NCSU has a great technological background with top colleges in engineering, management, design, textiles, etc. and needs to promote that. Hopefully with a new AD we can market our academics and athletics hand in hand.

  13. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Educ. Mkting. Group, Joe Hice. Joe Hice said: hiceschool.com post: Why Branding is Important to NC State – http://bit.ly/cF92W8 […]

  14. A.J. Ryn says:

    Hi Joe,

    You should check out the comments on Pack Pride, where they’re talking about this post: http://mbd.scout.com/mb.aspx?s=178&f=2515&t=5976241

  15. Joe Hice says:

    A.J. I did write the original post in Fall 2005. I joined UF in June that year and we launched The Gator Nation campaign in September. The “media value” numbers were complied after UF won both basketball and football titles. In the 2006-2007 and 2007 – 2008 time frame. That success did open doors that allowed us to tell the academic story far and wide. One thing I experienced though is that the belief that national titles attracts students is just that, a belief. We couldn’t tell any difference in applications from year to year, although they did trend upward. No Tebow Effect so to speak. But then, applications at NC State are at an all time high this year and it has been a while for us. Whatever the case, NC State is an amazing place and we should all feel good about where we’re headed under the direction of Chancellor Woodson. Go Wolfpack!

  16. Clayvegas says:

    Loved reading that! I have been waiting for two decades to hear (read) a member of the NC State braintrust state something of such importance. Many of us (alumni) have known we had a brand problem for years but could never get anyone in leadership to acknowledge a problem existed. It gives me great hope to think we may finally be on the cusp of realizing our potential and finding our own, loud voice as an institution. Perhaps finally the worm has turned. Lord knows its long overdue.

  17. Steve says:

    A.J. I did write the original post in Fall 2005. I joined UF in June that year and we launched The Gator Nation campaign in September. The “media value” numbers were complied after UF won both basketball and football titles. In the 2006-2007 and 2007 – 2008 time frame. That success did open doors that allowed us to tell the academic story far and wide. One thing I experienced though is that the belief that national titles attracts students is just that, a belief. We couldn’t tell any difference in applications from year to year, although they did trend upward. No Tebow Effect so to speak. But then, applications at NC State are at an all time high this year and it has been a while for us. Whatever the case, NC State is an amazing place and we should all feel good about where we’re headed under the direction of Chancellor Woodson. Go Wolfpack!

  18. Joe says:

    “We couldn’t tell any difference in applications from year to year…”

    Joe,

    That is simply because UF has a “blue chip” athletics programs. They’ve won several national titles in b-ball and f-ball very recently but they also won under Spurrier in the 90s as well. They’ve maxed out the value of athletics much more so than a sleeper like State. Appalachian State’s applications sky-rocketed after beating Michigan in the Big House. Moreover a recent article documented George Mason’s exponential rise in website hits and applications after making their Final Four run several years ago.

    In my opinion, you are going to find that the marginal benefit of marketing NC State will be much higher than at UF, because we are that much under-ranked and under-marketed. However, it will be somewhat more challenging at the same time. I suppose it requires a different strategy, almost like your strategy would be different if you took a job at Coca Cola versus some regional cola. The coke job would be challenging because the bar is set so high and you have to think up fresh and creative ideas but the regional cola would be challenging because no one knows about it and you have to convince people its better than more established brands.

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