Brand Equity in Higher Ed

January 6, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

The Global Language Monitor has just released its rankings of colleges and universities (here). GLM ranks “brand equity.” No measures of faculty or student quality, no measures of cost, no graduation rates. Just “buzz.”
TrendTopper MediaBuzz utilizes a mathematical model that ‘normalizes’ the data collected from the Internet, social media, and blogosphere as well as the top 75,000 print and electronic media.
Those other rankings – the ones that look at the schools themselves – are biased.
GLM’s TrendTopper MediaBuzz Rankings actually removes all bias inherent in each of the other published rankings, since they actually reflect what is being said and stated on the billions of web pages that we measure.
Here are the top ten universities
1. Univ. of Wisconsin—Madison
2. University of Chicago
3. Harvard University
4. Mass. Institute of Technology
5. Columbia University
6. Univ. of Michigan—Ann Arbor
7. Cornell University
8. University of California–Berkeley
9. Yale University
10. University of Texas—Austin
And the top ten colleges
1. Davidson College
2. Occidental College
3. Williams College
4. Wesleyan University
5. Carleton College
6. Amherst College
7. Bucknell University
8. Oberlin College
9. United States Air Force Academy
10. Pomona College
The aren’t any surprises in the first list, except perhaps that four of the top ten are state schools (the “public option” when there’s a “government takeover” of education.) But with the colleges, I wonder what the nature of the buzz was. Is Occidental at #2 because Obama went there as a freshman? Why is Bucknell more buzzworthy than, say, Kenyon or Vassar?

I also wonder what brand equity means. In commerce, it adds value. It increases the price of a product or share of stock. What does it do for education?


Rex Whisman said...

To me a brand is a name, what that names stands for and the associations people make with the name when they see or hear it. Such as the reaction people have to you when you say Julliard. The top 10-20 list does not surprise me. Those school names have equity. The challenge for the other 4,500+ institutions of higher education in the US and many more abroad is that most people have not heard of them or know little about them. Without a brand strategy the only equity they have is that they are a college or university. Great post!

Jay Livingston said...

Rex, the GLM is apparently a measure of quantity. It does not identify the content of the brand. Is U of Chicago, as one of its recent alums said to me, "where fun goes to die"? And I'd be curious as to what the Davidson brand is and why it's number one.

Anyway thanks for the comment. Not all comments here from brand consultants have been so generous.

Asaad said...

The term brand equity had been studied in many researches and there had been many perspectives in viewing what does the term means (Farquhar, 1989). It has been defined frequently as the value of the brand name adds to a product (educational product in this case). The value in this case can influence other educational products category. More fundamentally brand equity is generated from all activities required to market the educational product. Customers’ memory is the underlying basis of educational products brand equity. Stored information represents the node which connects with the others by links of varying strengths. A “spreading Activation” process connects node to node and determines the extent of retrieval provoked by the recognition of problem by the customer of educational product and it happen even if a customer simply think about the college (Keller, 1993).
Brand equity has been described by many authors in term of brand knowledge. Keller (1993) defines it as “the differential effect of brand knowledge on consumer response to marketing of brand” (keller, 1998, p. 45). The condition in which customers of educational products are familiar with the college/university brand whereby they are able to recall some favorable, strong, and unique brand association represent the brand equity.
“I believe that answer the last question”
For the first question:
“Of course Obama as freshman has something to do with it, because Obama is a credible endorser for such a college.”
Based on the associative network memory model celebrity endorsement is a trigger of brand recall and recognition, because it creates a brand node by establishing additional node to the educational product customer memory (Spry, Pappu, & Cornwell, 2011). (I can go further to prove the link if you want)

mike said...

It seems like all the best brand consultants all have been going to work for prophet.