I sometimes get asked ‘what does the Edge Hill brand mean?’ A solid brand concept can seem elusive in higher education – with many institutions providing degrees that are moderated to assure a consistent standard, how do we really distinguish ourselves except by place? (Is higher education a product like pasteurised lager – identical wherever you get it, but consumable in a wide variety of settings?) The defined ‘missions’ of universities in the UK have many similarities; all unis want to show strengths in research, teaching, knowledge transfer, access etc. No university would stand up and say, for instance, ‘we’re the university that’s all about access – don’t expect us to be particularly good at research, or to innovate – we’re all about the access, baby…’ Even though to do so would give them a ‘clear brand proposition’.
So a university brand is more like a cocktail (sticking with the alcoholic metaphors) – taking the qualities and strengths we have and serving them up as a unique mixture.
Edge Hill doesn’t have any slogans or straplines. What we do have are some underlying concepts, a sort of brand DNA. Part of this is that Edge Hill defines itself as the University of Choice. Obviously this isn’t saying we’re the best by any standards anyone chooses to apply, but rather that we’re the best at being the kind of university we are, and the best at meeting the needs of those who share our values and aspirations. (Our soaring popularity suggests that many people agree with us.)
Expressing this is the daily work of my department. Working with departments and individuals to amplify the stories they wish to tell – the stories that collectively influence the image of Edge Hill out there in people’s heads, using words, images, experiences. …
I haven’t mentioned the logo. Read any book on branding and you’ll experience the author grabbing you by the throat, screaming ‘a brand isn’t just a logo!!!’ . I agree with this up to a point. A visual identity, including a logo, is at best a visual expression of a brand. For me its chief power comes from consistency of application. Universities are diverse organisations, clusters of ‘knowledge businesses’ and a logo, well applied, helps show that the whole sprawling endeavour actually shares a common purpose.
As for ‘what does the Edge Hill logo mean…’ Another time.