ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

Purpose – In today's complex and highly competitive marketplace, universities and colleges, realizing a need to develop sustainable strategies, have turned to branding as a solution. However, because of their unique service characteristics, universities' branding attempts may not always result in success. The aim of this paper is to present a brand ecosystem framework in order to develop branding strategies for colleges and universities. Design/methodology/approach – The key elements of the framework include: student experiences as the driving force of the university branding strategies, academic services as the core value creation activities in delivering student learning experiences that are co‐created with students and faculty, and supporting activities that are important in creating the core value. Findings – The framework suggests that both core and supporting value‐creating activities are dynamically inter‐related and work jointly in creating student learning experiences, and ultimately, a strong university brand. Originality/value – The paper presents the crucial elements and the relationships among them for building successful brands in higher education.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Utilizing the brand ecosystem
framework in designing branding
strategies for higher education
Musa Pinar and Paul Trapp
College of Business Administration, Valparaiso University,
Valparaiso, Indiana, USA
Tulay Girard
Division of Business & Engineering, Penn State Altoona, Altoona,
Pennsylvania, USA, and
Thomas E. Boyt
College of Business Administration, Valparaiso University,
Valparaiso, Indiana, USA
Purpose In today’s complex and highly competitive marketplace, universities and colleges,
realizing a need to develop sustainable strategies, have turned to branding as a solution. However,
because of their unique service characteristics, universities’ branding attempts may not always result
in success. The aim of this paper is to present a brand ecosystem framework in order to develop
branding strategies for colleges and universities.
Design/methodology/approach The key elements of the framework include: student experiences
as the driving force of the university branding strategies, academic services as the core value creation
activities in delivering student learning experiences that are co-created with students and faculty, and
supporting activities that are important in creating the core value.
Findings The framework suggests that both core and supporting value-creating activities are
dynamically inter-related and work jointly in creating student learning experiences, and ultimately, a
strong university brand.
Originality/value The paper presents the crucial elements and the relationships among them for
building successful brands in higher education.
Keywords University branding, Brand ecosystem, Branding, Student experience,
Sustainable development, Higher education, United States of America, Brand awareness
Paper type Research paper
In today’s global marketplace, the role of brand management has been elevated to a
new level of importance. In fact, the most distinctive skill of marketers is their ability to
build and manage brands (Kotler and Armstrong, 2010). This is because brands as
powerful assets represent the essence of a company, outlasting the company’s specific
products and facilities; thus, they must be carefully developed and managed. Because
brands represent consumers’ perceptions and feelings about a product and its
performance (Kotler and Keller, 2006), the real value of a strong brand is its ability to
capture customer preference and loyalty. As one of a company’s most valuable
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
Received August 2010
Revised October 2010
Accepted November 2010
International Journal of Educational
Vol. 25 No. 7, 2011
pp. 724-739
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/09513541111172126
intangible assets, a brand functions as a powerful differentiator for the business and as
a decision-making tool for customers (Aaker, 1991, 1996; Keller, 1993, 2008). At their
best, brands represent promises kept, and build loyalty through trust, which in turn
results in continued demand and profitability (Reichheld, 2001, 2006). Thus, branding
is an integral part of marketing strategy; it is the creation of a corporate identity and
reputation. Because branding efforts are not limited to “consumer” products, firms in
various service industries have been trying to utilize branding strategies to build
stronger brands. In this regard, higher education and universities have also begun to
realize the need to develop sustainable brand strategies. Therefore, branding has
become a strategic issue and focus for universities and other post-compulsory
educational institutions in order to develop meaningfully differentiated brands to
communicate their strengths (Jevons, 2006).
Recently, the economic environment has had a major negative impact on the financial
situation of most higher education institutions. More enduring is that vast numbers of
universities and colleges (i.e. brands) in the marketplace often compete for the same
students. Moreover, the relatively simple promotional tools of the past no longer work as
they once did. As today’s prospective students are fully immersed in a variety of digital
worlds, institutions of higher education sometimes struggle to understand and embrace
their needs. It is in this context that colleges and universities are turning to branding as
they seek to thrive, and in some cases to survive, in the current marketplace for higher
education. For example, in the UK, increased competition within the education sector and
diminishing university funds at British universities highlight the growing importance of
branding for the UK educational institutions (Mazzarol and Soutar, 1999; Mok, 1999). As
a result, in 2000, the UK government supported a worldwide re-branding exercise
campaign to establish a clear and competitive identity for UK universities in order to
attract more international students (Hemsley-Brown and Goonawardana, 2007). The aim
of developing a brand for the UK institutions was to enable the various schools to attract
students and to differentiate British education from its major competitors, such as the
USA and Australia. This shows the branding efforts for higher education institutions
supported by the British government. In addition, a few studies (papers) (Gatfield et al.,
1999; Gray et al., 2003; Mazzarol, 1998) have focused on marketing and branding in order
to identify the factors that are important when marketing and promoting universities
and/or positioning higher education institutions. Nevertheless, the focus of these studies
was not how to create a university brand; rather, to promote the universities to attract
international students.
In today’s complex and highly competitive marketplace, universities and colleges
have turned to branding as a solution in dealing with today’s global challenges
(Whisman, 2007). Because a university as a service organization is one large,
undifferentiated mass of people and process (Schultz, 2006), coupled with the unique
characteristics of its services, the marketing challenge has been how to differentiate
these organizations in the market place so that they will be preferred by consumers
(Berry, 2000; Bitner, 1995, Zeithaml et al., 1990, 2006). In fact, heterogeneity is the
greatest source of difficulty in branding services (de Chernatony and Dall’Olmo Riley,
1999; Ostrom et al., 2005), and education is no exception. Because universities can
differentiate themselves through serving the needs of different segments with different
mixes of services and products, they must understand not only how differences are
perceived by different segments, but also how the different dimensions of service are
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
interrelated such that a change in one area of service could impact other areas. This is
especially important for services branding because of the process nature of services
with many customer touch points (Gronroos, 1984; Berry, 2000; Zeithaml et al., 2006),
where each of these components could have a critical impact on service quality, and
ultimately on the image of a service based brand.
Given the growing importance of branding for the competitiveness of higher
education in the global economy, this paper presents a framework to help better
understand and guide branding decisions for college and universities. In this regard,
we suggest that a brand ecosystem framework (Pinar and Trapp, 2008) could be
utilized in developing successful branding strategies in higher education. The
framework developed in this paper shows the relationship and interactions among the
major activities of university value-creating networks (e.g. academics, sports, student
life, and community services) in delivering exceptional learning. As will be presented
below, we believe that this framework could help brand managers in higher education
to identify the key value-creating activities and their interrelations and interactions
that are critical for creating a strong, differentiated education brand desired and
preferred by stakeholders (mainly students). One may argue that students are the raw
materials of education, graduates are the products, and employers are the customers.
Although the merit for this argument is not denied, generally speaking, many
employers do not fully pay universities for their graduates. Students often pay
universities for education, services, and ultimately their degrees (Ivy, 2008). The
curricula are developed and adapted appropriately to meet the needs of students who
would like to concentrate on a field of study. Program duration may influence student
(or student and parent) choice of the school (Ivy, 2008). In addition, when brand
managers (administrators and staff) consider the wide variety of publics with which a
university needs to communicate, different communication tools are used for different
publics. Ivy (2008) argues that prospective students are mainly the target publics for
recruitment. Messages in communication media (e.g. pamphlets) are designed to
inform, remind, and/or persuade prospective students to select the advertising
institution because they will be the ones who will be the direct receivers of the
educational services (i.e. value-creation activities, interactions with faculty, staff, and
other students, involvement with student organizations). For these reasons, in this
paper students are seen as the customers. We also believe that, without an exceptional
student learning experience, other stakeholders could not exist.
Unlike the above-mentioned studies, where the main goal was to market and
promote university brand to attract more students, this paper is aimed at providing a
framework that identifies the major forces, or value-creating networks (Kotler and
Armstrong, 2010) and their interactions that are important in delivering desired
educational experience to students. In this respect, this is a conceptual paper where the
main goal is to present a theoretical framework that captures the major factors
(value-creating networks) and the interactions of these factors in developing a strong
university brand. The authors of this paper believe that this framework shows a
holistic approach in creating a strong brand for higher education institutions.
Moreover, contrary to the other university branding studies where the focus was on
promoting and branding the university or institution, as suggested by Ng and Forbes
(2008) and Schultz (2006), this paper focuses on students’ experience as the core of
higher education (university) branding.
Branding in higher education
The brand image of a university plays a crucial role in attitudes towards that
institution, and to the sector as a whole (Yavas and Shemwell, 1996; Landrum et al.,
1998). Based on their study of university image, Paramewaran and Glowacka (1995)
suggest that higher education institutions need to develop and/or maintain a distinct
image to create a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive global market.
Such a distinct image is likely to impact a student’s willingness to apply to that
institution; thus, establishing these images in the mind of the stakeholders is quite
important (Ivy, 2001). Hemsley-Brown and Goonawardana (2007) state that despite the
growing importance of this subject, empirical research specifically related to the
branding of higher education is relatively scarce. However, they claim that the broader
topic of the international marketing of higher education has been a key topic of both
empirical research and theoretical papers.
A review of the literature reveals very few papers (Gatfield et al., 1999; Gray et al.,
2003; Mazzarol, 1998) that concentrate on university branding, although some
attention is given to the international marketing of higher education. A study by
Gatfield et al. (1999) suggests that recognition (quality of teachers and resources),
campus life (added features), and guidance (access services) are the most salient
promotional features used in marketing universities. In a study of educational
institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK, Mazzarol (1998) found that
two factors i.e. “image and resources” and “coalition and forward integration”
were significant predictors of market success. In addition, Gray et al. (2003) identified a
university’s learning environment, reputation, graduate career prospects, destination
and cultural integration as the main brand positioning dimensions for higher education
institutions. The above studies indicate that academic instruction and learning
environment, campus life, reputation, and career prospects of graduates are the most
salient brand positioning dimensions for higher education institutions. However, these
studies were conducted with the aim of international marketing of higher education
and attracting international students.
Furthermore, much of the branding effort in higher education appears to be focused
on promotion and identity, including logos, mottos, promotional materials, advertising,
mascots, names, and the like (Argenti, 2000; Bunzel, 2007; Jevons, 2006). These efforts
appear to be largely concerned with external branding without a clear understanding
of the holistic nature of what constitutes a brand. As a result, Jevons (2006, p. 467) has
questioned the effectiveness of these exercises, stating: “Uncertain about what is
important for the brand, their students, or other stakeholders, they [universities] grasp
at less-than-differentiating value propositions”. Likewise, Bunzel (2007, p. 153) states:
“In the final analysis there has been little evidence to show that a university branding
program really creates a change in perception or ranking of a university”. As for the
mottos and tag lines that are becoming increasingly common, Goldney (2008) asks:
“Could these words become, if it has not already occurred, weasel words, meaning they
have essentially lost any true meaning because of their frequent and at times rather
indiscriminate use?”. Clearly, there are limitations to focusing on the external
dimensions of a brand without considering the larger internal and external context. To
the extent the focus is simply on “better” marketing and communications, brand efforts
are not likely to deliver the intended results.
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
A search of the literature reveals that this narrow approach to brand development
and management may be changing. Black (2008) specifically addresses the concept of
brand promise and “the role of all faculty, staff, and administrators as ‘institutional
trust agents’” in the delivery of the promise. Ng and Forbes (2008) have developed a
compelling gap model for the university experience based on the service quality
literature that explicitly recognizes the various parties involved in the creation of the
learning experience, including the students themselves. While recognizing the
importance of physical evidence and processes, Ng and Forbes (2008) rightly highlight
the complexity of the university experience, as it is co-created, emergent, unstructured,
interactive, and uncertain, and that not all students share the same goals and
orientation (academic, personal, vocational, social) with respect to the university
experience. Notably, Ng and Forbes (2008) also highlight the importance of trust in
delivering effective experiences.
Adapting the Gap Model of Service Quality developed by Zeithaml et al. (1990,
2006), Ng and Forbes (2008) propose four expectation-perception gaps that must be
monitored and managed in order to provide satisfying university experiences:
(1) the difference between what a student expects and what the institution thinks
the student expects (knowledge gap);
(2) the difference between the institution’s understanding of students’ expectations
and the development of the service designs and standards (standards gap);
(3) the difference between the development of the service designs and standards
and the actual delivery of the service (delivery gap); and
(4) the difference between the delivery of the service and the institution’s external
communications (communications gap).
Beyond these basic gaps, Ng and Forbes (2008) propose an “ideological gap” that is
“the difference between designing the service towards fulfilling students’ expectations
and designing the service towards what the institution believes the students should
experience” (p. 14, authors’ italics). Of these gaps, the ideological gap may be the most
fundamental issue to resolve in terms of competitive advantage.
Brand ecosystem and value networks
From a strategic perspective, brands can be designed to deliver greater customer value
by building a “brand ecosystem” that includes the value networks and interactions of
these value networks at each stage of brand value building. This concept is similar to
several other value-delivery frameworks found in the literature. For example, Porter
(1985) proposed the value chain as a framework to describe how the activities of a
business contribute to its tasks of designing, producing, delivering, communicating,
and supporting its products to create value. In a similar way, Kumar (2004) presented a
“3Vs” framework which includes valued customers (who to serve), a value proposition
(what to offer) and a value network that will deliver the promised product and/or
service. All activities in a value network are driven by the end-consumer’s intended
experience and preferences (i.e. desired value proposition).
Kotler and Keller (2006) presented a holistic marketing framework to show how the
interaction between relevant actors (customers, company, and collaborators) and
value-based activities (value exploration, value creation, and value delivery) helps to
create, maintain, and renew customer value. Earlier, Moore (1996) proposed a business
ecosystem as an economic community consisting of customers, market intermediaries
(including agents and channels, and those who sell complementary products and
services), suppliers, and of course, the firm. The key aspect of Moore’s business
ecosystem is that, as in a biological ecosystem, any change in the business ecosystem
impacts the entire system due to the inter-relationships and interactions among the
system elements, which underscores the inter-dependencies of the business
ecosystem’s value networks. However, Moore’s (1996) framework makes no specific
reference to any kind of brand(s) or branding; rather, it covers all sub-sectors of a
business to create competitive advantage for sustainable growth.
In the public services context, Ivy (2008) finds seven distinct factors rather than the
traditional 4Ps of marketing mix in the marketing activities of state business schools of
higher education institutions. Ivy’s study develops 25 statements that measure student
attitudes and their perceptions of the importance of various marketing activities and
tools they were exposed to in the selection of the business school. The most important
factors in sequence were the program (choice of majors, electives), prominence
(reputation), price (tuition), prospectus (communication through direct mail), people
(interactions with faculty, staff, and other students), promotion (publicity and e-media),
and premiums (mixture of various offerings). In a similar empirical study, Price et al.
(2003) assess specifically the impact of facilities on student choice of university and
find that quality of facilities has significant impact on student’s choice of institution.
The main focus of these studies is examining the factors that help to market and
promote university brand to attract more students. However, other studies argue about
the importance of emphasizing people (i.e. faculty, staff, other students, community)
and processes (logistics of the service delivery) in marketing of services (Cowell, 1982;
Nicholls et al. (1995) and suggest the close link of positioning to the concept of branding
(Nicholls et al., 1995) taking a more holistic approach (Pinar and Trapp, 2008).
Pinar and Trapp (2008) propose a brand ecosystem framework for building and
managing a brand. They define a brand ecosystem as a set of different activities (value
networks) that contribute to building a strong brand that includes all the stages of
value creation from initial design idea to the final consumer (target market) brand
experience. In creating a strong brand to deliver the promised customer experience and
value, the key aspect of the framework is that the customer is the starting point of the
brand ecosystem as consumer preferences and experiences drive the inter-linked value
networks. Unlike Moore’s (1996) business ecosystem, the brand ecosystem is proposed
to create a specific brand that promises to offer a specific value proposition and image
that target consumers desire to experience. It is important to note that the preferences
and expectations of the chosen target market(s) are the driving forces for the entire
brand ecosystem. Additionally, every activity (internal and external) in the brand
system is inter-related, and must be consistent with and contribute to accomplishing
the desired brand image and consumer experience with the brand in both the short-
and long-term. Moreover, any change in any part of the brand ecosystem, like in a
biological ecosystem, affects all other value networks of the brand ecosystem, and
ultimately the brand image and brand value.
Today, as consumers are demanding more social responsibility from the brands
they use, a brand ecosystem as a whole must reflect the core values associated with the
brand. In this respect, the brand’s identity provides the DNA for the entire ecosystem,
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
and ultimately brand equity. The importance of consistent high standards and values
throughout the entire brand ecosystem cannot be ignored. Recognizing the holistic
nature of a brand ecosystem requires an organization to fully understand and manage
its value network(s) and their interactions that are driven by desires and preferences of
the chosen target markets. In essence, the brand ecosystem places the brand and
related customer experiences as the focal point. It integrates the mechanism of an
organization’s supply chain(s). Many firms tend to have a logistics emphasis with
efficient distribution capabilities, but they ignore final customer preferences and
experiences and their impact on creating a strong brand and brand equity.
The Tallgrass Beef Company in Kansas (USA) is a good example of a brand
ecosystem in creating a successful brand by appealing to health-conscious consumers
(Babwin, 2006). In order to guarantee consistently high-quality steak and brand
consistency, the company controls all the value-delivery networks in its brand ecosystem
from using high-quality bulls to high-end steak restaurants that are consistent with the
Tallgrass Beef brand image. Consumer desires and preferences for healthy and
high-quality steak drive the Tallgrass Beef Company’s brand ecosystem in developing
its special brand of steak, otherwise a generic (graded) commodity product in most cases.
One of the best recent examples of a large-scale brand ecosystem is Starbucks Coffee. In
order to be consistent with its premium brand identity, Starbucks controls all activities
from coffee beans to delivering consistently the best service in its brand ecosystem to
meet customers’ preferences and expectations with respect to experiencing the perfect
cup of coffee (Michelli, 2006). Providing direction and focus to the Starbucks brand
ecosystem is the idea of an authentic coffee experience (i.e. the “third place”) while being
a socially responsible community member. As these examples indicate, it is important to
remember that each activity in the brand ecosystem exists to deliver a specific, unique
end experience to the final consumer and must justify itself on that basis. This implies
that the brand ecosystem’s overall strategic intent is (or must be) known throughout the
value network and that consumer preference drive each activity.
An ultimate goal of all branding strategies is to build strong brand equity, which is
also the main goal of a brand ecosystem. This is because brand equity, as a key
indicator of the state of health of a brand (Keller, 1993; Kim and Kim, 2004), is built
through an effective management of the brand. As a multi-dimensional variable, brand
equity, refers to the value inherent in a well-known brand name (Keller, 1993, 2008;
Schiffman and Kanuk, 2007). Basically, value is created in a consumer’s mind as a
result of a brand’s superior quality, the social esteem the brand provides, consumer
trust in the brand, and self-identification with the brand (Aaker, 1991, 1996; Keller,
1993; Schiffman and Kanuk, 2007). Brand equity is the positive differential effect that
knowing the brand name has on consumer responses to the product or service (Keller,
1993). One measure of a brand’s equity is the extent to which customers are willing to
pay more for the brand (Aaker, 1996; Keller, 1993, 2008). For a university brand, it is a
student’s willingness to pay premium tuition for his/her education without the
university resorting to high levels of discounting through financial aid. A powerful
brand enjoys a high level of consumer awareness and loyalty, and it forms the basis for
building strong and profitable customer relationships (Aaker, 1996; Keller, 1993, 2008).
An effective brand ecosystem has the potential to not only differentiate a
product/service experience in a meaningful way for the customer, but also to create
strong brand equity for the producer.
Brand ecosystem for developing a higher education brand
The factors that are important for branding universities (Gray et al., 2003; Gatfield et al.,
1999) have not yet been presented in any type of branding framework. In this study, we
present a brand ecosystem framework for a college or university that can be envisioned
as all of the activities in a value-creation network that provide value to the institution’s
various constituencies, both internal and external. Figure 1 provides a conceptual view of
a university brand ecosystem. As shown in this framework, the focus and direction for
the ecosystem are provided by the educational experiences the institution intends to
provide to its targeted constituencies. Also, as suggested by Gray et al. (2003), when
building a university brand, it is important that universities need to understand the key
educational needs of students and the perceived value of core and augmented elements of
their offerings. Therefore, students are central in defining intended experiences because
they are the only reason for the existence of colleges and universities. However, attention
also must be given to other constituencies including parents, potential employers,
alumni, donors, and the local community. While these other constituencies are an
important part of any university brand and should be included in the holistic brand
development process, the focal point of university branding is the learning experience as
core-value creation (Ng and Forbes, 2008); therefore, this paper will focus on students’
academic and non-academic university experiences.
The brand ecosystem presented in Figure 1 proposes that because the student is the
customer of higher education and students’ satisfaction in the consumption of a
Figure 1.
University brand
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
university experience is critical, student (target market) learning experiences are the
driving force for all value creation networks in developing university branding. As the
core service of the university experience is embodied in the learning experience,
academics (i.e. teaching and research) are the core value creation activities for students’
learning experiences. It is important to note that teaching and research may hold
different levels of importance for students’ educational experiences, depending on a
university’s emphasis on each academic area. The next elements of the brand
ecosystem are the supporting value creation activities of student life, sports, and
community activities. While these services, as hygiene factors, may not necessarily
provide a superior university experience, Ng and Forbes (2008) state that the core
service cannot function effectively without these supplementary services, such that the
two interact dynamically in construction of the entire university experience for
students. The brand ecosystem also includes employers, alumni, and donors who may
have direct and/or indirect effect on student learning experience and on university
brand image. Certainly, as shown in Figure 1, all these factors individually and/or
collectively may affect students’ university experiences, and ultimately the university’s
consumer-based brand equity.
Each of these value creation activities of academics (core value creation), student
life, sports and community service (supporting) can be broken down into more defined
experiences to the point where the experience exists as a specific, meaningful
individual encounter (Bitner, 1995; Zeithaml et al., 2006). As in any service, the
education experience as a process is the sum of many encounters consisting of
student-faculty, student-administration/staff, and student-student interactions, each of
which has the potential to impact education quality, students’ university experience,
and ultimately a university’s brand. For example, the academic experience dimension
can be viewed as a sum of all the encounters consisting of classroom lectures and
discussions, assignments, tests, student group projects, internships, student research
projects supervised by faculty, after class chats between a professor and student(s)
about the course material, academic advising, and more. All of these interactions (i.e.
encounters) contribute to student learning and an academic experience that serve as
building blocks of core value creation for university branding. The value of learning is
co-created with the student (Bitner et al., 1997; Gummesson, 1993) in a way that is
emergent, unstructured, interactive, and uncertain (Ng and Forbes, 2008). Moreover,
with education as a service (Ng and Forbes, 2008), as suggested by Bitner (1995) and
Gronroos (1984), the delivery process of education could be more important than what
is delivered. Therefore, in delivering academics as a core value delivery process,
faculty-student, and student-student interactions in the co-creation process are the
critical parts of a university learning experience that can have a significant impact on a
university brand.
In addition to the core value creation activities, each of the supporting value creation
activities contributes to a students’ overall university experience and resulting brand
impressions. Ng and Forbes (2008) state that supporting (or supplementary) services
such as the application process, payment of fees, campus facilities, and student
accommodations all play a role in facilitating the core service experience. They claim
that the core cannot function effectively without the supplementary services, and the
two interact dynamically (directly or indirectly) in the construction of the university
experience. This indicates the importance of each student encounter (interaction) with
supporting services in creating the core academic experience. For example, the student
life experience at its most elemental level can be viewed as a specific encounter
between a student and a dining-room employee, or the taste of tonight’s dessert. The
student life experience at its broadest is the sum of all such student experiences
through each and every encounter that make up student life. Similarly, student
encounters in their dormitories, payment of fees, campus facilities, or sporting events
may enhance or inhibit the students’ core service experience. In each case, the
experience is tightly defined by time and place, yet driven by a broader experiential
intent. Each encounter at every touch point contributes positively or negatively to a
student’s university experience. The brand ecosystem as a branding framework is
merely a tapestry of interrelated experiences over time, sharing a common focus and
direction. Moreover, the brand ecosystem reflects these dynamic interactions among
the core and supporting services that impact student learning experiences and a
university’s brand equity.
At the broadest level of a college or university, the institutional brand ecosystem’s
intent is defined by its focus and direction, its vision and purpose. This level of intent
defines the next level of intent, which in turn defines the next lower level, etc., related to
student university experience. As a simplified example, a college’s focus and direction
define the intent of student life, which defines the intent of dining services, which
defines the intent of the individual roles within dining services. Likewise, the intent of
student life would also define the intent of residential living and the roles of its staff
members. One can view experiential intent as cascading throughout the brand
ecosystem through encounters, always with an implied in order to focus driven by the
desired student experience. Each individual within the ecosystem has a defined role
based on what that individual is to accomplish given the intent of that person’s
department. As with maneuver as practiced by some military units (Lind, 1985), that
individual (e.g. faculty member, administrator, staff person) knows what she must
accomplish in terms of the desired student experience (intent), but the “how” is left up
to her. To the extent that the individual is qualified for her role, understands the
experiential intent of her role and her department within the broader context of the
university, and desires to serve the student, she will be able to provide the type of
experience called for by Bitner (1995) and more recently Ng and Forbes (2008) in
keeping promises (i.e. living the brand). Moreover, as the employee is able to determine
the how, she is not only able to keep the promise, but should be encouraged to exceed
the student’s expectation as keeping promises leads to satisfaction, while exceeding
promises leads to passion and loyalty. Therefore, as pointed out in prior research
(Berry, 2000; Bitner, 1995; Gronroos, 1984; Zeithaml et al., 2006), it is the personnel,
especially the contact personnel at every touch point, that are critical in delivering the
desired service (educational) quality for creating an education brand. The emotional
dimensions of such experiences can be very powerful for both parties (Gobe, 2001).
Faculty, staff, and administration should know and understand intent not only within
their area, but also the next level up as well as the college or university’s overall focus
and direction.
The brand ecosystem presented in Figure 1 must be viewed as interrelated
dimensions of the student experience, with the entire education ecosystem driven by a
shared focus and direction (based on a global vision) as expressed through experiential
intent at each level and department within the whole. Because students are a key
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
component in the co-creation of the core service experience (Ng and Forbes, 2008),
academic-student interaction is often an important aspect of the learning experience in
building a university brand. Given the dynamic nature of the brand ecosystem, as
students and others interact with the institution and its faculty, staff, and
administration, the cognitive and affective dimensions of the various experiences
continually influence the brand and its meanings, and ultimately its value (“Brand
Equity” in Figure 1). This interaction is no different than is found with any
organization. For example, to what extent does the Singapore Airlines brand derive its
meaning from the passengers’ experiences found flying with the airline? In this way,
the brand and experience exist in a yin/yang relationship. That is, the brand suggests
the nature of the experience (i.e. establishes the promise and expectation), while the
experience itself reinforces and ideally strengthens the brand. In turn, the brand leads
back to the next experience in a relationship that is ongoing, dynamic, and mutually
rewarding. This is especially true as a university experience results from the
simultaneous nature of production and consumption of student learning (or
co-learning), where all parties have an impact on each other. A university brand and
its associated meanings represent an experiential promise as well as an influence on a
student’s expectations with respect to the educational experience offered. In a yin/yang
relationship, interacting with a university through experiential encounters in turn
influences the brand as a result of direct learning. Consequently, the brand and its
meanings may be confirmed, or ideally, strengthened as a result of new positive
meanings and deeper emotional bonding.
It is critical to note that without highly qualified, enthusiastic employees (i.e. faculty,
staff, and administrators), involvement and creating great student experiences with the
brand ecosystem are highly unlikely. Unhappy employees cannot be counted on to
provide good service experiences, much less great experiences (Heskett et al., 1997;
Zeithaml et al., 2006). This implies the necessity of a strong internal branding program
(Whisman, 2007; Ostrom et al., 2005; Berry and Lampo, 2004; Berry and Bendapudi,
2003; Hemsley-Brown and Goonawardana, 2007) that fully engages and motivates a
university or college’s employees in their student-centered roles to deliver great
experiential outcomes. This suggests that the essence of any brand building, especially
for service brands, depends on how a company clarifies the roles and behavior it needs
from employees to deliver on the brand promises. In this regard, universities must
focus on internal branding, where the goal is to convey the value proposition and brand
associations to the university personnel in the core and supporting areas so that the
personnel understand what the university brand promises to its students and others.
This could minimize potential gaps (i.e. delivery, standards, knowledge, and
communication) for the brand value proposition between students and university
personnel. Also, internal branding would facilitate communication between
administration (brand managers) and the academic and supporting units (Whisman,
2007), as well as development and delivery of a coherent and consistent brand identity
for the university (Hemsley-Brown and Goonawardana, 2007). This implies that
universities must have high-quality personnel and sufficient resources to serve their
students well, particularly in the delivery of core academic experiences. Moreover,
university personnel in all areas must have sufficient training so that they all
understand the university value proposition and their role in delivering the value
proposition and creating a strong university brand.
Conclusion and suggestions
At its best, a college or university brand ecosystem has the potential to take students to
places they do not yet know they want to go. Indeed, this is one of the challenges of
managing the ideological gap that Ng and Forbes (2008) identified. However, to the
extent that a gap is mastered, and students are provided a “wow” educational
experience, a university or college may have a powerful brand differentiator. The
promise of the brand ecosystem as a platform for bridging this gap lies in its unifying
strategic focus and direction, resulting levels of intent, and individual employee roles
centered on the student experience. Given the special service characteristics of
intangibility, complexity, heterogeneity or variability, simultaneous production and
consumption, and the process nature (Berry, 2000; Ostrom et al., 2005; Zeithaml et al.,
2006), creating a great (learning) experience and university brand depends not only on
core value creation with academics, but also on student experiences with all supporting
value creating activities. This is because all value creation networks are dynamically
interrelated with each other, where each of these value networks individually and
collectively contributes to the student learning experience with a university brand. As
a result, students’ expectations are continually updated and revised throughout their
direct or indirect experiences with the university brand (Ostrom et al., 2005). For
example, even though academics are the core value creation means for students, there
is no doubt that student experiences (positive or negative) with the library, residence
hall, dining, or even with sports may significantly impact their university experiences;
in turn, the university brand.
This process nature of (university) services contributes to the complexity of the
service encounter experience, where student evaluation of learning experience becomes
the sum of many factors some under the control of university employees and some
not. This in part may explain the challenges universities as service producers face in
branding strategies. It is well-known that a customer’s experiences with a company far
outweigh the company’s own communications to the customer (Ostrom et al., 2005). By
far, experiences dominate the formation of customer evaluations (e.g. perceptions of
quality, satisfaction, value, and loyalty), and expectations for subsequent service
encounters (Berry, 2000). As stated by Ostrom et al. (2005), the frontline employee is the
brand for the customer; it is the employees who deliver the service, which conveys the
brand to the customer. Berry (2000) and Berry and Bendapudi (2003) point out that
because the frontline (or contact) employees embrace the majority of a customer’s
impressions, marketing the brand to employees, or internal branding, is critical. This
suggests that all personnel (administrators, faculty, and staff) need to understand their
importance in delivering desired student learning experiences. The brand ecosystem
framework we proposed shows the dynamic interrelationships among the value
creation elements in developing university branding. The implication is that in order to
create the exceptional multidimensional student learning experience that universities
promise, universities must coordinate all of the activities of the value delivery
networks of their brand ecosystem through internal branding. Finally, the brand
ecosystem offered in this paper provides a holistic approach to developing a university
brand by focusing on the core-value creation of academics, as well as all supporting
areas in delivering a superior learning experience for students.
Although this paper focused on the primary elements of the university brand
ecosystem (i.e. core and supporting activities), the complete ecosystem would also
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
include alumni, donors, and potential employers as presented in Figure 1. While not
having as direct a daily impact on the student experience, these external constituencies
have the potential to add significant value to the brand ecosystem. The specific
companies and organizations that recruit on campus is one example. Indeed, having
particular recruiters on campus may be a powerful attraction for potential students,
and thus, reflect an important aspect of a university’s brand ecosystem. In addition to
attracting potential students, specific recruiting companies could serve as an important
stimulator for students’ academic success which could indirectly impact the university
learning experience of students in a significant way. Moreover, the opportunity arises
for these organizations to contribute to other dimensions of the student experience
(e.g. class guest speaker, student group sponsor, etc.) that add additional value to the
total educational experience. Integrating alumni more fully into core and supporting
value proposition activities is another example of strengthening a university brand
ecosystem. It is also important to remember that parents of students are an important
part of a university’s brand ecosystem, particularly as influencers and interpreters of
the experiences their children are having on campus. We accept the fact that potential
employers, alumni, donors, and parents are significant contributors of university
experience; therefore, they should be included in the university brand ecosystem as a
part of holistic university branding strategy.
Future research
This paper presented a conceptual framework that presents the major value-delivery
networks and their interactions in creating university band. Based on a university
branding literature (Ng and Forbes, 2008; Schultz, 2006), we present academics as the
core of university branding and supporting areas in a brand ecosystem framework in
order to create a strong university brand and brand equity. The next step is to
operationalize the model elements to measure and test effects of each of the brand
ecosystem elements identified in the model on university brand equity. Following the
consumer-based brand equity and its dimensions (Keller, 1993, 2008; Aaker, 1991,
1996), future studies could measure overall university brand equity, and each of the
brand equity dimensions of brand association, perceived quality, and brand loyalty.
Specifically, we recommend development of a scale to measure brand equity, and
brand association related to core and supporting areas of student learning and
educational experience, perceived quality of the academics and supporting areas of
library, student life, sports, community, and brand loyalty. Also, the prior empirical
research, albeit limited, presented in this paper could help in identifying some of the
factors important for building a strong university brand that could be used in
empirically resting the model.
Given that simultaneous of production and consumption, and process nature of
education as service (Berry, 2000; Ostrom et al., 2005; Zeithaml et al., 2006), the effects
of brand equity dimensions could be empirically tested with structural equation
modeling (SEM). This is also reflected by our brand ecosystem framework, where core
and supporting elements of the education experience are presented as ongoing
interactions, indicating that student expectations are continually updated and revised
through direct and indirect experiences with university brand (Ostrom et al., 2005). As
suggested by Carbone (2004), the consumer experience with brand is not an additive
model; rather, it is multiplicative. This further indicates the importance of the
interactions of each of the brand ecosystem on university brand value. Therefore, we
feel that the impacts of the factors presented in the brand ecosystem are best captured
by SEM. The results of such an empirical study could help university administration in
developing a strong university brand.
Aaker, D.A. (1991), Managing Brand Equity, The Free Press, New York, NY.
Aaker, D.A. (1996), Building Strong Brands, The Free Press, New York, NY.
Argenti, P. (2000), “Branding B-schools: reputation management for MBA programs”, Corporate
Reputation Review, Vol. 3 No. 2, pp. 171-8.
Babwin, D. (2006), “Chicago, once known for its stockyards, is at center of designer beef food
trend”, Chicago Tribune Business Section, September 11, p. 1.
Berry, L.L. (2000), “Cultivating service brand equity”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 128-37.
Berry, L.L. and Bendapudi, N. (2003), “Cluing in customers”, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 81,
February, pp. 100-6.
Berry, L.L. and Lampo, S.S. (2004), “Branding labour-intensive services”, Business Strategy
Review, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 18-25.
Bitner, M. (1995), “Building service relationships: it’s all about promises”, Journal of the Academy
of Marketing Science, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 246-51.
Bitner, M.J., Faranda, W.T., Hubbert, A.R. and Zeithaml, V.A. (1997), “Customer contributions
and roles in service delivery”, International Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 8
No. 3, pp. 193-205.
Black, J. (2008), “The branding of higher education”, January, available at:
papers/wp-The-Branding-of-Higher-Education.html (accessed October 16, 2009).
Bunzel, D. (2007), “Universities sell their brands”, Journal of Product & Brand Management,
Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 152-3.
Carbone, L.P. (2004), Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again, FT Press,
Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Cowell, D.W. (1982), “Do we need to revise the marketing mix for services marketing?”,
in Thomas, M.J. (Ed.), Marketing: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice,
Marketing Education Group 15th Annual Conference, Lancaster, pp. 78-89.
de Chernatony, L. and Dall’Olmo Riley, F. (1999), “Experts’ views about defining services brands
and the principles of services branding”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 46, pp. 181-92.
Gatfield, T., Braker, B. and Graham, P. (1999), “Measuring communication impact of university
advertising materials”, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Vol. 4 No. 2,
pp. 73-9.
Gobe, M. (2001), Emotional Branding, Allworth Press, New York, NY.
Goldney, R. (2008), “It’s all in the brand power”, The Australian, February 27, available at: www.,25197,23280453-5015710,00.html (accessed October 18,
Gray, B.J., Fan, K.S. and Llanes, V.A. (2003), “Branding universities in Asian markets”, Journal of
Product & Brand Management, Vol. 12 Nos 2/3, pp. 108-12.
Gronroos, C. (1984), “A service quality model and its implications”, European Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 36-44.
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
Gummesson, E. (1993), “Services management: an evaluation and the future”, International
Journal of Service Industry Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 77-96.
Hemsley-Brown, J. and Goonawardana, S. (2007), “Brand harmonization on the international
higher education”, Journal of Business Research, Vol. 60 No. 9, pp. 942-8.
Heskett, J.L., Sasser, W.E. and Schalsinger, L.A. (1997), The Service-Profit Chain, The Free Press,
New York, NY.
Ivy, J. (2001), “Higher education institution image: a correspondence analysis approach”,
International Journal of Education Management, Vol. 15 Nos 6/7, pp. 276-82.
Ivy, J. (2008), “A new higher education marketing mix: the 7Ps for MBA marketing”,
International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 288-99.
Jevons, C. (2006), “Universities: a prime example of branding gone wrong”, Journal of Product
& Brand Management, Vol. 15 No. 7, pp. 466-7.
Keller, K.L. (1993), “Conceptualizing, measuring and managing customer based brand equity”,
Journal of Marketing, Vol. 57 No. 1, pp. 1-22.
Keller, K.L. (2008), Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand
Equity, 3rd ed., Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Kim, W.G. and Kim, H.-B. (2004), “Measuring customer-based restaurant brand equity:
investigating the relationship between brand equity and firms’ performance”, Cornell
Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, Vol. 45 No. 2, pp. 115-31.
Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2010), Principles of Marketing, 13th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle
River, NJ.
Kotler, P. and Keller, K.L. (2006), Marketing Management, 12th ed., Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle
River, NJ.
Kumar, N. (2004), Marketing as Strategy, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
Landrum, R.E., Turrisi, R. and Harless, C. (1998), “University image: the benefits of assessment
and modeling”, Journal of Marketing Higher Education, Vol. 9, pp. 53-68.
Lind, W. (1985), Maneuver Warfare Handbook, Westview Press, Boulder, CO.
Mazzarol, T. (1998), “Critical success factors for international education marketing”,
International Journal of Education Management, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 163-75.
Mazzarol, T. and Soutar, G.N. (1999), “Sustainable competitive advantage for educational
institutions: a suggested model”, International Journal of Education Management, Vol. 13
No. 6, pp. 287-300.
Michelli, J.A. (2006), The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary into
Extraordinary, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.
Mok, K.H. (1999), “Education and market place in Hong Kong and mainland China”, Higher
Education, Vol. 37, pp. 133-58.
Moore, J.F. (1996), The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business
Ecosystem, HarperBusiness, New York, NY.
Nicholls, J., Harris, J., Morgan, E., Clarke, K. and Sims, D. (1995), “Marketing higher education:
the MBA experience”, International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 9 No. 2,
pp. 31-8.
Ng, I. and Forbes, J. (2008), “Education as service: the understanding of university experience
through the service logic”, Journal of Marketing of Higher Education, Vol. 19 No. 1,
pp. 38-64.
Ostrom, A.L., Iacobucci, D. and Morgan, F.N. (2005), “Services branding”, in Tybout, A.M. and
Calkins, T. (Eds), Kellogg on Branding, Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, pp. 186-200.
Paramewaran, R. and Glowacka, A.E. (1995), “University image: an information processing
perspective”, Journal of Marketing Higher Education, Vol. 6, pp. 41-56.
Pinar, M. and Trapp, P. (2008), “Creating competitive advantage through ingredient branding
and brand ecosystem: the case of Turkish cotton and textiles”, Journal of International
Food & Agribusiness Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 29-56.
Porter, M. (1985), Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance,
The Free Press, New York, NY.
Price, I., Matzdorf, F. and Agathi, H. (2003), “The impact of facilities on student choice of
university”, Facilities, Vol. 21 No. 10, pp. 212-22.
Reichheld, F. (2001), Loyalty Rules, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
Reichheld, F. (2006), The Ultimate Question, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.
Schiffman, L.G. and Kanuk, L.L. (2007), Consumer Behavior, 9th ed., Pearson Prentice Hall,
Upper Saddle River, NJ.
Schultz, D.E. (2006), “Learning by doing”, MM, November/December, pp. 12-13.
Whisman, R. (2007), “Internal branding: a university’s most intangible asset”, available at: www. (accessed September 20, 2009).
Yavas, U. and Shemwell, D.J. (1996), “Graphical representation of university image: a correspondence
analysis”, Journal of Marketing Higher Education, Vol. 7, pp. 75-84.
Zeithaml, V., Bitner, M.J. and Gremler, G.D. (2006), Services Marketing: Integrating Customer
Focus across the Firm, McGraw-Hill, Maidenhead.
Zeithaml, V., Parasuraman, A. and Berry, L. (1990), Delivering Quality Service: Balancing
Customer Perceptions and Expectations, The Free Press, New York, NY.
Corresponding author
Musa Pinar can be contacted at: musa.
Utilizing the
brand ecosystem
To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail:
Or visit our web site for further details:
... In Africa, most of the countries are seen as collectivist societies (Hofstede study) as to individualist societies of the West, hence, it is appropriate to find out if such cultural values can impact university branding conceptualisation since students' decision-making processes may differ (Effah, 2020). Several scholars conceptualized university branding based on traditional customer-based brand equity dimensions developed by Aaker (1991) and Keller (1993 Girard & Boyt (2011, 2014 conducted some studies into university branding in a different context and they have looked at it in terms of essential and secondary dimensions. The essential dimensions are brand awareness, brand association, perceived quality, brand loyalty, learning environment and university reputation. ...
... The current study acknowledges the contribution of several scholars to the understanding of branding in the context of higher education (e.g. Pinar et al., 2020Pinar et al., , 2014Pinar et al., , 2011 2012). One of the aims of the study was to undertake SLR to help develop a framework that will form the basis for further testing and application. ...
... Branding is an extremely important part of a company's reputation. The article, Utilizing the brand ecosystem framework in designing branding strategies for Higher Education, mentions that "higher education institutions need to develop and/or maintain a distinct image to create a competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive global market" (Pinar, 2011). Branding is what makes a company stand out and allows consumers to recognize one company from another. ...
In 2020, Cal Poly’s Biomedical Engineering Department changed the name of one of their existing labs, the QPLUS lab, to the TECHE lab. TECHE stands for Transforming Engineers Through Hands-On Engagement and is a lab where biomedical engineering students can work together on projects, prototype ideas, and create solutions that help improve the lives of those who have disabilities. Since renaming the lab 2 years ago, the biomedical engineering department has not done any other updates to the branding of the TECHE lab and does not currently have a logo to represent the lab. The TECHE lab is a large reason why many students say yes to coming to Cal Poly and being a part of the biomedical engineering department. This is why it is so important to create a logo and branding that represents the lab and its importance to Cal Poly. I will be working with the labs' director and department chair of the biomedical engineering department to create a logo for the TECHE lab. This logo can be used for all sorts of things such as a largescale window design, letterheads that will be sent to possible donors, and t-shirts. The success of this project will be measured by the approval of the logo and branding from the labs' director, who is also the department chair of the biomedical engineering department.
... Notably, when students have a positive perception of the university's brand image, this will positively affect the Word-of-Mouth (WOM; Herold et al., 2017). Although there are various instruments through which HE institutions can promote themselves, such as academic programme, quality of professors, facilities, campus life, and services (Pinar et al., 2011), the most important strategy that guarantees a competitive advantage is called corporate branding (Gupta et al., 2020). ...
Branding is a well-known concept in the business field, and its application in the higher education sector has been introduced in recent years. Higher education branding is an effective strategy which has received considerable attention in recent years, and a growing number of articles on the subject have begun to appear in the literature. However, an apparent gap within the literature indicates that students’ perceptions of university brand images have not been thoroughly researched. Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate the impact of a positive visualisation course in brand identity on the perception of freshmen students of a university brand image. A qualitative approach has been selected as the most suitable for this study, and the methodology for the study of the aforementioned area is grounded theory. The research findings revealed that the positive visualisation course in brand identity can positively affect freshmen students’ perceptions of the university brand image.
... In full, the most important factors by order are: program (choice of majors), fame / fame (reputation), price (tuition fees), prospectus (communication via direct mail), people (interaction with teachers, employees, and other students) , promotions (publicity and emedia), and bonuses (a combination of various offers). (Pinar et al., 2011). Mazzarol and Soutar (2012) refer to "strong reputation" as a key competency for educational institutions to successfully compete in the global market. ...
This study aims to determine whether the loyalty of Polytechnic students can be formed through the reputation of Higher Education. Because student loyalty has an important role in realizing the competitive advantage of Higher Education. This research was conducted with a quantitative approach and data obtained through surveys using an online questionnaire with a sample of 200 Polytechnic students in the city of Bandung. Measurement of data and relationships between variables is done by using SEM-PLS statistical tools. The results show that student loyalty can be built through the reputation of higher education institutions with student satisfaction as interventing variable and various variables as forming the reputation of higher educationKey words. student loyalty; reputation; higher education; student satisfaction
... Brands pursued simultaneously often compete with each other for attention and resource allocation. Brand images are undermined when they are under-resourced (Alajoutsijärvi, Juusola, & Siltaoja, 2014;Pinar et. al., 2011). In business schools, academic branding as jack-of-all-trades is often the master of none (Rasche & Gilbert, 2015). It is not uncommon, however, to find different archetypes being pursued for different programs within the same school -full-time versus part-time versus accelerated versus dual-degrees (Page & Forbus, 2018). Chances are on ...
Full-text available
In today’s ultra-competitive education industry many business programs may be in danger of closing within the next 20 or 30 years. As universities face enrollment, funding, and non-traditional student support difficulties - the pressure increases. These troubles stem from the growth in the popularity of business degrees among employers, while applications decline, demographics change, and the quality of non-traditional offerings are questioned. The use of academic branding has emerged as a tool in this struggle for ability/sustainability. The ultimate goal of branding for a business school is to provide an impression leading to a positive reaction. Given the importance of adaptation and change, the authors propose that brand innovativeness is becoming an increasingly important criterion in academic marketing. This paper explores types of brand innovativeness by adapting the model developed by Beverland, Napoli and Farrelly to business schools. Further, Mark & Pearson’s (2001) 12 Jungian archetypes can be added to the mix to give these innovative brands a face, a persona and marketing appeal. While brand archetypes are commonly utilized in other industries, the application of brand archetypes to business schools has just begun to be explored. From this perspective the potential tradeoffs between business school branding strategies and their attendant brand marketing initiatives become clear.
... T he rise of branding in universities is partly a response to globalization (Blanton, 2007), as a brand offers a tool for them to create memorable identities in an increasingly competitive marketplace (Pinar et al., 2011). Trademarks are manifestations of brands, and a coherent brand strategy typically involves the use of trademarks (Rooksby and Collins, 2016). ...
Full-text available
Fierce, ever-increasing competition has prompted universities to pay more attention to their academic brand. Since the 1980s, top Chinese universities have begun to register trademarks and manage academic brands. After more than 20 years of hard work, what have they achieved? This paper, which conducts research based on big data on the trademarks and litigation of the 42 first-class universities, is the first systematic analysis of the trademark practices and strategies of Chinese universities. Our data show the following dimensions of top Chinese universities: the timing of the first trademark application, core trademark, non-core trademarks, trademark elements, distribution of trademarks in the Nice Classification, number of trademarks, legal status, and trademark litigation. Additionally, several typical universities, offering both positive and negative examples, were studied. Through the above analysis, we found that the application has some blind spots, there is a lack of initiative in trademark litigation, and the trademark management systems in universities are not considered relevant. To solve these problems, a range of suggestions from macro to micro is offered to help universities formulate a systematic and reasonable trademark protection strategy, strengthen the legal protection of their trademark rights, and improve their internal trademark management system.
... Due to escalating competitiveness in many sectors, the themes of marketing including brand equity have gotten a lot of attention throughout the years. The actual worth of a successful brand is its capacity to capture consumer brand preference (Pinar et al., 2011) since brands reflect consumer feelings and perceptions about a brand (or service) and its performance. Furthermore, well-developed and maintained brands represent invaluable attributes and resources for businesses (Keller, 1993;Kapferer, 2004). ...
Full-text available
Educational institutions need to respond to global competitive problems, and branding has become a method for higher education institutions to differentiate themselves. Thus, this study attempted to investigate predictors of employee brand-based equity. A cross-sectional research design has been used to record the perception of the teachers, and data are collected using a convenience sampling technique. Before administrating the study on large scale, a pilot testing was conducted, and reliability of the scale and their items was ensured. Pilot testing results indicated a satisfactory reliability level, and constructs correlations were in the assumed directions, which allowed to conduct the study on a large scale. A sample size of 400 was set, and questionnaires were distributed among the participants, out of which, 376 were received back, while 351 were left at the end after discarding incomplete responses. The left over and completed questionnaires indicate 88% response rate. Data have been analyzed through the Smart PLS software by applying the structural equation modeling technique. After establishment of the measurement model through reliability and validity, the structural model was used to test study hypotheses. All the study hypotheses were found statistically significant on the basis of t and p statistics. Results indicate that teacher’s emotional intelligence enhances teachers’ self-efficacy, which further improves their brand-based equity. Similarly, emotional intelligence increases teacher’s performance, which also increases their brand-based equity. Limitations and future directions of the study are also reported.
Background: Numerous studies have been carried out on the impacts of brand equity and service quality of higher education institutions (HEIs) on their reputation and students’ satisfaction. This research aimed to compare the impact of brand equity and service quality on universities’ reputations, namely Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN) in Indonesia and International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in Malaysia, and Indonesian students’ intention to choose the universities, which is moderated by study expense (price). UIN and IIUM are HEIs with a similar university concept, and Indonesian students have recently shown a high interest in them. The two universities have faculties not only in the field of Islamic studies but in general fields of studies as well, which are usually held by non-Islamic Universities. Therefore, their competitiveness against non-Islamic universities, especially the University of Indonesia (UI) has increased. Methods: The statistical measurement tool used was structural equation modeling (SEM). The number of items stated in the questionnaire was 45. Therefore, minimum data to be collected were 5 × 45 or 225 which rounded up to 228 from Indonesian students at UIN and IIUM (114 UIN students, and 114 Indonesian student respondents from IIUM). Results: The study results show that the universities’ reputations are strongly affected by their brand equity and service quality, which then affect students’ intention to choose the universities. Students had a higher intention to choose IIUM than UIN. The limitation of this research is that the effect of study expense on the intention of Indonesian students to study at UIN or IIUM has not yet been conducted. It will be conducted in the next study. Conclusions: These results are expected to be useful to UIN, IIUM, and especially Politeknik Negeri Jakarta (PNJ) in determining a strategy to enhance their reputations and the intention of Indonesian students to study there.
The brand equity of higher education institutions differs from that of a firm. In the field of education, a university is a brand chosen by students and parents, with graduates eventually becoming the products of that brand. The development of the Internet has led to considerable changes in higher education, and no scale exists to measure universities’ online brand equity. The present study develops a scale to measure higher education online brand equity (HEOBE). This exploratory study developed dimensions in five stages, and exploratory factor analyses were conducted to ensure that HEOBE scale items were comprehensible. Using an online survey, 769 usable responses were obtained, providing verification of 32 items in the following eight dimensions: institutional reputation, e-campus performance, brand identification, e-campus information, faculty competency, perceived value, brand loyalty, and campus perception. This framework provides a set of valuable measurement tools for higher education administrators.
Full-text available
Ingredient branding has proven very successful for many companies across a variety of industries in recent years. Prominent examples include Intel, NutraSweet, and DuPont’s Teflon. The main goal of ingredient branding is to take advantage of the potential synergy of two or more brands that share a common brand space. The Turkish cotton and textile industry can employ ingredient branding as a competitive strategy to differentiate and promote its products in the global marketplace. In recent years, the Turkish textile industry has been coming under increasing pressure from cheaper Asian textiles. This article suggests that Turkey could implement an ingredient branding strategy using its high quality cotton to differentiate its cotton and textile products in the global marketplace, and also to improve its competitive position prior to possible EU entry. In addition to presenting specific ingredient branding strategic options, the article makes some specific recommendations in implementing an ingredient branding strategy as an initial step towards creating competitive advantage through the development of a Turkish cotton and textile “brand ecosystem.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper asserts that, despite rhetoric of added value, facilities management suffers a dearth of objectively researched, publicly available information concerning the impact of facilities on businesses at the level of market sectors or individual organizations. The paper aims to correct that situation for United Kingdom higher education institutions. A survey of undergraduates starting university in 2001 confirmed, to high levels of significance, earlier research with the 2000 class. For many institutions, facilities factors, where provided to a high standard, are perceived as having an important influence on students' choice of institution. Year-on-year comparisons show strong agreement at the global level and, where data could be gathered, at the institutional level. Individual institutions show marked differences, significant at levels of confidence over 95 percent. A comparison of "reputational pull" and "facilities pull" is suggested as a means of differentiating the brand of different institutions.
The author presents a conceptual model of brand equity from the perspective of the individual consumer. Customer-based brand equity is defined as the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand. A brand is said to have positive (negative) customer-based brand equity when consumers react more (less) favorably to an element of the marketing mix for the brand than they do to the same marketing mix element when it is attributed to a fictitiously named or unnamed version of the product or service. Brand knowledge is conceptualized according to an associative network memory model in terms of two components, brand awareness and brand image (i.e., a set of brand associations). Customer-based brand equity occurs when the consumer is familiar with the brand and holds some favorable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory. Issues in building, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity are discussed, as well as areas for future research.
Maneuver warfare, often controversial and requiring operational and tactical innovation, poses perhaps the most important doctrinal questions currently facing the conventional military forces of the U.S. Its purpose is to defeat the enemy by disrupting the opponent's ability to react, rather than by physical destruction of forces. This book develops and explains the theory of maneuver warfare and offers specific tactical, operational, and organizational recommendations for improving ground combat forces. The authors translate concepts too often vaguely stated by manuever warfare advocates into concrete doctrine. Although the book uses the Marine Corps as a model, the concepts, tactics, and doctrine discussed apply to any ground combat force.
The author presents a conceptual model of brand equity from the perspective of the individual consumer. Customer-based brand equity is defined as the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to the marketing of the brand. A brand is said to have positive (negative) customer-based brand equity when consumers react more (less) favorably to an element of the marketing mix for the brand than they do to the same marketing mix element when it is attributed to a fictitiously named or unnamed version of the product or service. Brand knowledge is conceptualized according to an associative network memory model in terms of two components, brand awareness and brand image (i. e., a set of brand associations). Customer-based brand equity occurs when the consumer is familiar with the brand and holds some favorable, strong, and unique brand associations in memory. Issues in building, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity are discussed, as well as areas for future research.
Strong brand equity is significantly correlated with revenues for quick-service restaurants. In a study 394 respondents gauged the strength of seven quick service restaurant brands doing business in Seoul, Korea. The study tested four elements of brand equity, namely, brand awareness, brand image, brand loyalty, and perceived quality. Of those attributes, brand awareness had the strongest direct effect on revenues, while loyalty had the least effect. Dividing the restaurants into high-performing and low-performing groups, the researchers found that customers differentiated the high-performing restaurants on several product-quality measures, including knowledgeable employees and food served on time and as ordered. Oddly, high-and low-performing restaurants were not differentiated on such other quality factors as making quick corrections to errors, experienced personnel, and cleanliness. One other contrary finding was that although brand equity comprises all four factors being tested, awareness showed the smallest effect on brand equity, far eclipsed by image, loyalty, and product quality.