Latest The One Branding Lesson Universities (and Their Students) Can Learn from Mad...

The One Branding Lesson Universities (and Their Students) Can Learn from Mad Men

We won’t be dedicating this post to Don Draper. Nor will we make an official claim to our CEO for the reinstatement of the 60s’ napping-at-work perks. We’re going to dedicate this to what Don along with international students can teach universities and colleges from around the world.

Set primarily in the 1960s, the series is revolving around the mist of advertising era at its peak. Technology outplayed itself numerous times since then, but the main idea of what lies beneath each strapline and intuitive ad remains the same: everything we do, be it a 140-character tweet or a flashy billboard in the city centre, needs to be backed up by honest, raw insights—the very basis on which any great campaign is built. Insights are impossible to label: real-life truths that inspire brands and universities altogether to develop effective selling promises, and give their audience the answer to a question hidden in their subconscious? Something of the sort.

Insights: how can they help your branding process?

Any university’s insights ought to unlock solutions to your needs and explain why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how this can be useful to you. Google is mind-blowingly helpful in so many ways, but googling for insights may take us nowhere. So, universities should use any dialogue with you—their prospects, current students and alumni—to look high and low for patterns in behaviour and process. To find a good insight for their brand messaging, universities have to understand first what drives you, the international student, to leave your home country and second, why you chose them. Is it affordability or the length of your programmes? Any extracurricular activities that offer a more practical side to the degree? Strong network opportunities? The proximity to incredible landscapes? The festival and events agenda of the city? The culinary culture?

Branding lesson from Mad MenBy finding a good insight, universities find the key to your heart. To do this, they must start listening to you. Here are a few samples of a-ha moments from students just like yourself…

…who went to study at universities in New Zealand from:

  1. Germany: “If you like the outdoors and adventures, I would recommend coming to Nelson as there is something new to see around every corner.” (Eileen)
  2. China: “It was an easy decision to study in New Zealand. It is clean and safe, and less expensive than other countries such as the UK and US.” (Sheila)
  3. Hong Kong: “I think people of any race or any culture could fit in here and be very happy.” (Janet)
  4. Finland: “I see it as the perfect environment for young people to move away from home and start their independence.” (Luca)

…who went to study at universities in Australia from:

  1. Lithuania: “I’ve enjoyed going on a field trip to Gammon Ranges with the module Outdoor and Wilderness Adventure Education. We saw amazing wilderness and wildlife, including many kangaroos and emus.” (Ugne)
  2. Oman: “It’s a coastal city for those who like the beach and there are many festivals held across the year.” (Haitham)
  3. China: What I enjoy most about living on the Gold Coast is the close proximity to the sea,  brilliant climate and calm lifestyle.” (Cheng Dong)
  4. Papua New Guinea: “I have new friends, and the lecturers and staff are very friendly and helpful. It really feels like a home away from home.” (Elvis)

…who went to study at universities in Canada from:

  1. India: “My cohort of 30-odd students, allowed me to look at an issue with 30 different perspectives, which is fantastic knowledge wise.” (Ratan)
  2. South Africa: “From travelling locally to understand cultures, to flying internationally for research – the year had many fun-filled occurrences that kept us all on our toes.” (Teriska)
  3. Brazil: “The magic thing about moving to a place that nobody knows you is that you can be someone completely different.” (Mabel)

…who went to study at universities in the US from:

  1. Vietnam: “I saved a lot of money… a better start at a less expensive, great-quality school.” (Kylie)
  2. Saudi Arabia: “I came from a city with 5 million people to a town with 11,800, and that can be a little challenging for some.” (Mshary)
  3. Indonesia: “I was surprised and happy to see so much nature and beauty even inside the city itself!” (Mirelle)

…who went to study at universities in the UK from:

  1. the US: “I knew what I wanted to study right from the beginning. I didn’t want to pay for extra classes that didn’t relate to my degree.” (Jackie)
  2. Singapore: “Coming from a metropolitan city without any large farms, I wanted to have the opportunity to work with farm animals and gain practical skills.” (Charlotte)
  3. Spain: “I’m glad I chose this university for its diversity. Thanks to the weekly events, you are able to make a lot of friends.” (Luis)

…who went to study at universities in Singapore from:

  1. Thailand: “The nuances of the culture and the local mindset can only be learned and understood if you get to mingle, if you get to be immersed in the culture.” (Parsit)
  2. Mongolia: “I had no idea what it felt like to live independently and study with international students. But at the end of my first year in Singapore, I became more mature, and most importantly, I discovered the things that I have never thought of before.” (Bat-Uyanga)
  3. Indonesia: “The community here is extremely tight-knitted; because we are all away from home, we formed our own family and that cohesiveness is what provides enjoyment and excitement every single day.” (Maureen)

Students: your best source of insights

You are an inestimable source of insights and ideas for universities. Universities will and should eavesdrop on your reasons to leave your country and study in theirs, extract the insights and translate them into smart messages. A smart university is a university that listens to its students. And the biggest lesson you can give to your university is this: a brand only exists in the mind of its consumers, that’s why a university doesn’t become a brand until you see it as one.

The days when napping at work may be a thing of the past, but the ones spent listening to our audience are far from it.