Colleges, now more than ever, are brands. Just as real as the Ford, Coca Cola or Levi Strauss seen on their grounds. In the consumable world, ad agencies do extensive research and creative exploration hoping to breathe some life and personality into an often mildly interesting consumer product. Yet colleges do a much better job at this without a single storyboard! Because in academia, the *consumer* actually is the product.
How so? Although most colleges and universities have brick and mortar campus buildings, it’s the students that are the real product — a product created by that unique experience a particular college can provide.
As I’m in the middle of the big college search for my oldest daughter, I’ve come across dozens of school mission statements. Take Hartwick University’s for example: It speaks directly to that student seeking an environment that promises to prepare them for an ever-changing and interdependent world. These kinds of mission statements allow prospective students to actually envision the end product (their college experience and their future). And a good school will usually provide that student with the means to fulfill that *mission* and allow them to ultimately become a testament for future students to aspire to.
Now imagine if companies were to apply the same strategy to how they sell their product or service. The secret might be less about “fluffing up” the product — and more about inspiring the consumer— who if inspired the right way, can soon become a committed advocate for future consumers.
So putting aside the greasy cafeteria food, maybe education can still teach us all how to have a better ROI!