09.23

3 Common Myths about Branding

By Deborah Mersino

First off, welcome! If you’re a long-time Ingeniosus fan, it’s good to have you back. If this is your first foray to my site, I hope you’ll visit often to find regular education and inspiration.

I’m going to kick us off with a post about branding, a term that is often misunderstood.  As someone who has been around the block enough to witness the comings and goings of trends, I can emphatically say understanding and applying best branding principles is as crucial to educational organizational success as hiring the right leaders.

While some CEOs, executive directors, board members, and leadership teams have marketing savvy and branding experience, not all fully comprehend what branding means and/or how it can transform an organization committed to education when employed effectively. Here are three common myths I’ve encountered over the past 17 years. See if you relate:

  1. Logos and taglines = branding
  2. Branding = big bucks.
  3. Branding is for big corporations, not small business, universities, schools, foundations nor educational nonprofits.

In this post, we’ll tackle the first two myths.

Logos and taglines = branding

Bring up the term “branding” and you may encounter, “Yes, it’s time to update our logo, our tagline and/or website.” Thinking branding equals brand properties (look/feel and graphic standards) is the most prevalent and persistent myth still at play today. Brand development and management involves much more than a logo and tagline.

When established and executed properly, a solid brand positioning can — and should — influence organizational structures, budgeting and fiscal allocations, staffing, research, product and service development offerings, and all aspects of internal and external marketing communications. It’s essential (I can’t emphasize this enough) to strategic planning and organizational success.

Branding = big bucks

Achieving a solid brand position involves research, reflection, collaboration, and expertise. If a nonprofit, foundation, university, company or school is struggling with target audience penetration, recruitment, product or service sales, internal and external relations, and/or finances, leaders often attempt to tackle those problems head on without stepping back to look at the bigger picture of positioning. A lack of a clearly defined brand, though, is one of the biggest contributors to financial woes and decreased mission impact.

Particularly in the fast-moving world of education and the digital world we inhabit, leaders would be wise to prioritize branding in the upcoming fiscal year. The good news? It can be done without a chief marketing officer, spending a quarter million dollars or sitting and fidgeting through dozens of meetings. It’s not rocket science, but it does takes an objective guide, an open mind, and a commitment to growth.

Stay tuned for more on branding myths. And thanks again for visiting!

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