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Professional Opinion

Redefining the concept of the university branding

President Kimberly R. Cline writes about how Long Island University spreads its institutional ideals beyond campus
University Business, March 2015
Kimberly R. Cline, president of Long Island University, says branding is essential in higher ed.
Kimberly R. Cline, president of Long Island University, says branding is essential in higher ed.

Branding may have historically been considered too commercial an endeavor for higher ed, but this mindset has clearly evolved. It’s no longer a question of whether a college should brand itself, but of how it can create an accurate embodiment of its mission and student experience.

Branding a university is fundamentally different than branding a product. A university is a complex, multifaceted institution that cannot necessarily encapsulate its essence with a single word, phrase or logo.

Yet in today’s competitive educational environment, branding is just as essential for a university as it is for a Fortune 500 company. And we share with the corporate world some of these key fundamentals of branding success:

  • Articulate the vision and dare to be bold. Distinguish the brand.
  • State purpose. Be clear and direct about the brand’s mission.
  • Bring the brand to life. Offer salient examples of how people “live the brand.”

The goal is to attract motivated, talented students and to engage alumni, educational peers and local communities. A brand must define the campus while conveying a purpose that galvanizes a diverse array of prospects and advocates.

Experiential learning

At Long Island University, we embrace the potential in branding, while preserving our status as a traditional institution with a history of value creation for students and families.

We are forward-thinking in our planning and execution, addressing the realities of today’s fast-moving global marketplace as they relate to our students. But we also uphold rich traditions and a commitment to quality.

With these values in mind, we developed a branding strategy that emphasizes a spirit of creative entrepreneurship not limited to business and technology advancement—but that is truly cross-disciplinary.

LIU positions itself as a leader in coupling experiential learning with a strong reputation for liberal arts and sciences. Students get the skills and experience they need to successfully forge careers in the global marketplace. Another key to our branding is LIU’s location and its proximity to New York City—the international center of commerce and culture.

We can spread our branding message by providing students with internships in New York. We can bring world leaders to our campus, such as through our UN Ambassador lecture series and our master classes taught by performing artists who work on New York’s stages.

New career-focused programs foster a brand experience that aligns with our location on Long Island’s beautiful Gold Coast. Popular programs include Entrepreneurship, Financial Engineering, Alternative Investments, Fashion Merchandising and Equine Management.

Businesses and incubators

LIU’s venture-focused, experiential learning and cross-disciplinary brandings are evident in our student-run businesses. These endeavors give ambitious students experience in business creation, management, marketing and operations. T

wo examples are Browse, a technology store staffed by students in computer science, business and other related subjects, and The Gallery Shop, where visual arts students can display and sell their creations.

Another manifestation of our entrepreneurial brand is the on-campus business incubator, ThoughtBox@LIU. It offers a fertile environment in which students can create apps, develop high-tech solutions and build startups. They work with proven entrepreneurs, participate in CEO-speaker workshops and develop businesses through mentorships.

In addition, our students serve as influential ambassadors of the university. From launching new businesses while still pursuing their degrees to making their marks in a wide variety of fields after graduation, our students are an ever-evolving representation of the LIU brand.

Their successes create our ultimate legacy.

Kimberly R. Cline is president of Long Island University.

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