Exploring the Brandscape, Part 2: How we’re perceived

Posted on Friday, November 13th, 2009 by Debbie Schallock under Integrated Marketing, Research. Tags: , , , , ,
Brandscape: According to Kilmer & Kilmer, brandscape is the definition of the competitive and consumer environment in which your brand must perform and compete.

Academic deans don’t typically spend much time talking about branding and identity, but with my role as Chair of the Research Subcommittee, I have given some thought lately to the nature of the “UNCG brand.” What is UNCG like in comparison to other universities? How are we perceived? What are our distinctive characteristics?I once heard that every business has a brand, whether or not one they’ve been intentional about creating one. Audiences, both internal and external, establish opinions and beliefs based on their interactions with your organization.

You may or may not be comfortable viewing higher education as a business, but no matter what, we should be conscious of what students, donors and other audiences think about our university. And shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to shape those perceptions?

It is critical to put forth thoughtfully developed, consistent messaging that reflect audience perceptions while taking it one step further – guiding them to the perceptions we want them to have.

Think about the ways prospective students, donors and corporate partners perceive UNCG and how their opinions and beliefs about the university effect their decisions to attend, financially support or collaborate with us.

Alumni make up another audience segment to consider – one that has already experienced our university, likely in ways both positive and negative (though more of the former, we hope). And yet, even with graduates, we have the opportunity to influence the way they look at our institution.

With this in mind, the Research Subcommittee of IMSC conducted an across-campus audit to measure attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about UNCG.

Campus units were invited to submit research that targeted both internal (students, faculty and staff) and external (community, donors, alumni, prospective students) audiences. Each dean received the initial request from the IMSC co-chairs. He/she then passed the request on to the appropriate person(s) for submission.

We were not looking for actions that were taken as a result of the survey; rather we sought to catalogue what has been done, when, to whom and to then identify potential gaps. Types of research included surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, news analyses and other similar methodologies. With each piece, they were to include the target, a brief description, the timeframe conducted and a contact name.

An outside analyst is examining the research we garnered to determine outcomes of our work. Once a report is ready, I look forward to sharing the research audit results with you.

By Timothy Johnston, Ph.D.

Timothy Johnston, Ph.D. is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences