, April 4, 2016

Branding in Education: how can universities brand effectively when heading to Asia?

Over the years, more and more educational institutions have attempted to enter the Asian market. Some are hugely successful. Some lost millions. What are the X-factors leading to success? “It’s all about good branding!” says Asian region project manager for BMI education company, Kew Pham.

Leading a successful fair for more than 30 education companies and universities from all over the world, this month Kew shares some of her advice with Grain’s PR consultant Kent Le on branding strategies for western schools and universities aiming to successfully enter one of the biggest markets in the world: the Far East.

The power of the right colour
Colour plays such an important role in branding, particularly services and also in educational branding. But to transfer the appropriate messages from your brand to Asian parents, you must first understand their culture and ‘taste’ in arts. For example, the colour red could convey the high and positive energy of your school brand to Asians, because red is normally thought of as the winning colour.

Meanwhile, blue, green and other cold colours could tell Asians of a modern institution with the latest technology, innovation and the like. Blue can also convey trust, whilst purple can make them think of tradition.

Location is key
“Place” is an important P factor in the marketing mix. Undoubtedly, presenting the ideal location of your school to your customers is an indispensable factor of your educational branding. Asian parents tend to be the decision makers, so you need to ensure you target them correctly.

If the school is located in a famous region, make sure you include the region’s name in the process of naming its brand. Think about all London-based universities trying to include “London” in most of their flyers.

However, a famous location like London or Paris is not necessarily the only unique selling point. Some parents prefer their children to study in a quiet and safe area, so you could focus on this element whilst marketing.

Online presence is crucial – make sure you’ve got a good website!
Websites are a crucial communication channel between institutions and their future customers including parents, students and even consulting agencies. It is an important portal of information which is internationally available.

A user-friendly website with a good layout could help your school’s future customers feel much more comfortable and motivated to read more about you.

Make sure your school’s home page is easy to navigate and creates a sense of inclusiveness.

Some institutions often consult me whether they should have many language options on their websites. Well, the answer could be either Yes and No. This depends on many factors such as budget, whether your school is targeting any country in South East Asia or the whole region, for which level of education your institution provides courses etc.

A quick tip from my own experience could be creating one beautiful online brochure in some local languages such as Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese etc, depending on the students you wish to target.

Print materials: what to remember?
Websites are open for all international students but it is hard to direct students from Google straight to the school site. Thus, the education events and fairs are actually great opportunities and the first door opening for students to learn about schools. But how does your school win more students and parents in a busy fair among the other tens or hundreds of international institutions? Well, it’s creativity in your printed materials.

Every creative detail of your school’s exhibition booth could win first impressions of visitors at fairs. It does not matter whether it is a single fact sheet on a course or a big handbook including all courses at your school. As soon as the graphic design looks uniquely appealing, students definitely love to bring it home. Freebies (such as a pen, usb, bracelet, mug etc.) or a beautiful logo could be more than just a reminder to visitors about your school if it is a creative piece.

I just looked at Grain’s website whilst writing this piece, and what they have done for Newland College perfectly explained my point. Newland College has fantastic branding with great merchandise and supporting visuals. Also make sure there’s a great diversity represented on all printed materials. Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging, particularly when they are picking up flyers about your school.

– Guest Thought by Kew Pham of BMI

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