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The elements of brand-building in higher education: The role of strategy, research and internal engagement


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In 2007, as part of an eight-month process to change its name to Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T), the University of Missouri-Rolla launched an intensive rebranding effort to maintain awareness among its key audiences, particularly prospective students, alumni and employers of graduates. Six years later, the university conducted an extensive market research project to determine various audiences’ perceptions of the institution since its name change and, based on the outcomes of that research, revised its brand identity, messaging and positioning to better reflect the institution’s visibility goals as outlined in a new strategic plan. This paper examines the role of strategy, market research and internal engagement in building a brand during two distinct points in one university’s recent history and provides guidance and takeaways for communications officers, marketing officers and brand managers responsible for stewarding a college or university through a brand-building exercise.

Keywords: brand identity; communications; higher education; marketing; strategic planning; strategy; university branding; university marketing

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Journal of Education Advancement & Marketing is the major new professional journal publishing in-depth, peer-reviewed articles and case studies on advancement, development, alumni relations, fundraising, marketing and communications for educational institutions. Content will be written by and for professionals in the field with no advertising or sales pitches.

    Each quarterly 100-page issue – published both in print and online – will feature detailed, practical articles which showcase the latest thought leadership in how to identify, build and steward life-long relationships with alumni, businesses and other donors, along with actionable advice and ‘lessons learned’ on advancement, development, marketing and communications strategy for educational institutions. It will not publish advertising but rather detailed analysis of new thinking and practice at a wide range of universities, colleges and schools worldwide for readers to benchmark their organization against, with every article being peer-reviewed by an expert Editorial Board to ensure that it focuses on the advancement professional’s perspective, the challenges they face and how they can tackle them.

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