The only way is Essex

May 29, 2014

Christine Hovis, our Deputy Head of Corporate Branding, has expressed her professional admiration for the latest branding initiatives being undertaken by the University of Essex.

She told The Poppletonian that her enthusiasm had been aroused by discovering that the Essex University branding team had come up with a brand of its very own that it called “The Challenger Brand”.

But she was even “more thrilled” upon learning from the Essex University brand website that this Challenger Brand was being “articulated through our Challenger Brand narrative”. This Challenger Brand narrative, she further learned, includes “what we believe and why we are different, our writing style, including the tone of voice we use”.

But this, as Ms Hovis went on to realise “with mounting excitement”, was only a start to the Challenger Brand exercise. A further paragraph on the website revealed that the Challenger Brand was “articulated” through the Challenger Narrative, and that this Challenger Narrative was then broken down into “four pillars”.

These four pillars of the Challenger Narrative (which, of course, is the articulation of the Challenger Brand) are The Essex Spirit, Culture of Membership, A Global Community, and A Research Mindset. When these four pillars of the Challenger Narrative are kept in mind, the website promises, “You’ll be able to bring them to life in everything you do.”

Ms Hovis said that not only was she delighted with the overall clarity of this branding message – in particular with the way in which the Challenger Brand was articulated through the Challenger Narrative and the Challenger Narrative was then broken down into four pillars – but she was also “very pleased” to see that the website provided an opportunity for feedback. “If you have a burning question you want our vice-chancellor to answer he’s always happy to hear from you.”

It was, said Ms Hovis, “mildly disappointing” to learn that only one burning question had so far been forwarded to the vice-chancellor:

“What time’s the next train to London?”


The full English

“We’re past the time when we could afford to have students spending three years studying a subject called nothing more than ‘English’.”

This was the response of our Head of Marketing, Professor Bernie Innes, to an article in Times Higher Education in which an English graduate from a Russell Group university complained about her inability to obtain even unpaid work at a local marketing agency.

It was exactly this state of affairs, said Professor Innes, that had led him to initiate Poppleton’s degree in English and Marketing. Within this degree, students were shown how the “old-fashioned” English degree’s concentration on novels and poems and plays needed to be broadened to include such fundamental features of marketing as brand equity, product recall, direct mailshots and click-throughs.

He described the relationship between English and Marketing as “essentially symbiotic” and instanced a recent finals paper in which the joint students were invited to spot the “branding mistakes” in the following list of book titles:

  • Modest Expectations
  • Jeff Copperfield
  • Fortunate Jim
  • Tristram Spritzer
  • An Awful Lot of Solitude.

Professor Innes said that he hoped this clarified the situation.


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Next week’s seminar will consider the so-called “Heinz phenomenon”: the obsessive tendency of university examiners to award the mark of “57”.

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