Brand Platform Launches

After more than a year of research and development, Brandeis recently introduced its first-ever brand platform, which includes both narrative elements and graphic standards, allowing the university to consistently communicate its identity and impact.

The project involved focus groups; conversations with faculty, staff, students and alumni; and brand-awareness surveys conducted by SimpsonScarborough, a higher-education research, marketing and branding agency.

SimpsonScarborough’s research showed that, by and large, prospective students, potential donors and peer institutions lack a clear sense of Brandeis’ identity, its value proposition and the differences that make it distinct from other schools. This is especially concerning given the growing competition within the higher-education market for a dwindling number of students, a reality higher-ed observers call the “enrollment cliff.”

“When the recession hit in 2008, it wasn’t just the American economy that declined but the national birthrate as well,” says Max Pearlstein ’01, assistant vice president for communications and external relations. “As a result, colleges and universities are preparing to compete for a pool of prospective U.S. students projected to drop significantly after 2025.” 

SimpsonScarborough’s research showed that several of Brandeis’ brand-narrative messages strongly resonate with all audiences. Audiences responded positively to descriptions of Brandeis as a place where students obtain a liberal-arts foundation that fosters intellectual growth and practical-skills development; as a community of students, graduates and faculty who apply their talents to improving the world; and as a university that produces important, daring and consequential knowledge and research. However, although the surveyed audiences endorsed the strength of these messages, they did not necessarily associate them with Brandeis.

The SimpsonScarborough data will inform how the university develops strategies to connect most effectively with the key groups it wants to reach.

“Increasing Brandeis’ visibility and value proposition is critical as the university prepares for challenges like the approaching enrollment cliff and opportunities like the promise of the Framework for the Future,” says Pearlstein.

Information about the university’s brand narrative and visual identity system can be found here.