Brand Design and a Major University
I recently came across the website of LPK, a company I had not heard of. LPK describes itself as a "brand design agency."
I wasn't sure what that meant, so I read LPK's web site. The company's history is interesting (their main office has had the same telephone number for almost 100 years). But what I found really interesting was that among their many corporate clients was something called "SUNY." Growing up in New York state, I knew SUNY as the acronym for the "State University of New York." But it didn't fit in with LPK's other clients, such as household brands Hallmark, Pampers, Hershey, and Excedrin. Click image to enlarge LPK's partial client listing.
I clicked on the link to learn what the "brand" named SUNY was all about and was surprised to find that it is the State University of New York! Embedded in a phalanx of commercial firms was a giant public education system.
Does a large, decentralized public university system need to engage a "brand design agency" to craft a "clear and unified vision and voice to inspire its students, faculty and region"?
In the old fashioned, romanticized world of higher education, the inspiration, voice and vision of the university would come from its own people, and be promoted from within. The actions and words of leaders, researchers, teachers and learners would generate an organic, home-grown roadmap that a university could use to chart its course and inspire its community.
But the "real world" is a chaotic whirl of messages about organizations. A university no longer controls how it's viewed. Rather, its own voice is one of many voices expressing a viewpoint about the organization's future. So SUNY (and other universities) aren't just universities; they behave like "brands" that have a consumer positioning strategy, brand equity, mindshare, product lines, and cause-related messaging.
Whether you think this is good or bad, structured marketing strategies can at least be tracked and measured. Perhaps this can lead universities to greater understanding of their real and potential roles in their communities' lives.
Do you think universities need guidance from "brand design agencies" to articulate their vision, and to inspire their students, their faculty members and their region?