Brand values

August 6, 2009

In light of the sector's commercialisation, the articles by Robert Mighall and Jonathan Baldwin on branding were useful ("What sets you apart?" 23 July).

Branding is not just relevant to the recruitment of individual students, but also to establishing partnerships with external organisations. And it is a two-way street. It may serve to initially attract partners, commercial or otherwise, but established partnerships themselves then become part of the brand.

A "meaningful" brand therefore has to be accompanied by a consistent partnership strategy, defining the kind of external organisations a university wishes to be identified with or not.

Sadly, too many universities, under growing pressure to increase "third-stream" funding, may forgo such brand-consistent strategies. But "opportunistic" partnerships are likely to turn and bite them where it hurts - degrading the very brand they have invested so much time and effort in creating.

Roger Rees, The Open University (in a personal capacity).

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