WHAT IS A BRAND?
“Simply put, a brand is a promise. By identifying and authenticating a product or service, it delivers a pledge of satisfaction and quality.”
“A brand is a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer.”
COLIN BATES, buildingbrands.com
We agree with both Landor and Bates. In fact, a brand is the two together: the promise that the organization makes and the perception in the mind of the audiences. A brand is determined by the points of interaction between an organization’s promise and the perception of the reality/validity of that promise in the audiences’ minds.
Not Just A University
Our university educates students, generates new knowledge through research and extends the utility of research findings through outreach. Those functions are elements of the brand, but so is the university’s personality, the way it communicates through the performance of those functions and about them.
WHAT IS OUR BRAND?
When examining what pieces of information to use in order to define our brand, the University can look at the way it has already communicated its vision, mission and priorities. All of these three help define our function, focus and plan for the future but do not define our traits, attributes, personality or brand essence.
To provide leadership for Nebraska through quality education (teaching), the generation of new knowledge (research) and distribution of that research through extension and outreach (service) as both the land-grant and the comprehensive public university in the state.
Our mission describes our function, but not personality/attributes.
Increase enrollment to 35,000 students.
Increase four-year graduate rate to 80 percent for undergraduates.
Increase total research expenditures to $600 million.
Increase annual economic contribution to the state to $3.5 billion.
Our vision helps us plan for the future, but it doesn't refer to our personality/attributes.
Undergraduate education and research.
Priorities help us focus, but they don't refer to our personality/attributes.
Attributes are characteristics and traits that describe a brand, as if describing a human personality. Because a brand is composed of both physical, personal, as well as material and inanimate things, attributes are a great way to define a brand personality.
The university's attributes are a good place to start when considering the general attitude voiced in communications, and these descriptors help to further qualify these attributes.
Ambitious Achievement-oriented but not cutthroat
Authentic Up front but not in-your-face
Collaborative Open but not clingy
Committed Focused but not singleminded
Friendly Approachable but not bubbly
Hard-working Industrious but not dull
Inclusive Down-to-earth but not lowbrow
Smart Intelligent but not pretentious
Anytime we talk about our brand promise, and what we hope our audience understands and experiences when in contact with our University, we are also talking about our brand essence. The two terms are essentially the same.
Brand Promise = Brand Essence
How do we find that essence?
Lots of Equity Already
Nationally-known as our University
Historically tied with Athletics
Our brand essence doesn’t change, unless something earth-shaking happens.
(MOVING OUT OF NEBRASKA, FOR INSTANCE)
How is it expressed?
Here we come
to the field, the lecture and the laboratory
without pretense or privilege,
to commit more of ourselves
to this human enterprise,
and through diligent study and collaboration,
to improve it.
That those who follow may go further.
For we are not born to stand idle,
and neither Nebraska nor the world will wait.
Here we come.
Go Big Red.