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Power of Ten: The Weird Psychology of Rankings

Headline writers have known for years that rankings articles like “Top 10″ lists generate clicks. University administrators have simultaneously dismissed USNews college rankings as inaccurate and irrelevant while still striving to improve their school’s own ranking. Practically everything is ranked these days – best cities to find love, best places to retire… people seem to love rankings, even when the rankings are so subjective as to be almost meaningless. Now, there’s some hard data that shows how we humans view rankings, and why it may be worth trying to move up (even if you think the rankings are bogus). […]

By |February 18th, 2014|

The Case FOR College Sports

Recently, Newsweek ran a big article titled The Case Against College Athletic Recruiting, with the sensational subtitle claiming that U.S. universities are “misappropriating resources” on sports. Accusing some of the nation’s most revered institutions of financial malfeasance is […]

By |September 27th, 2010|

College Branding in an Open Source Era

At this year’s South by Southwest Interactive, I had a chance to speak with Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. In her short but insightful book, Kamenetz outlines the forces that are starting to transform higher education in the U.S. and suggests alternative scenarios for what a college education might look like in the future. […]

By |May 11th, 2010|

College Branding: What if Harvard Moved Next Door?

Why do most college branding efforts end up as meaningless pablum? I think it’s because most colleges have been relatively insulated from the effects of devastating competition. In fact, historically there have been major barriers to competition in the cozy world of higher education. The biggest have been geography, cost, and reputation. Let’s look at those in turn: […]

By |November 2nd, 2009|

College Branding: Taglines

One of the great things about social media is that a conversation can be extended quickly between sites and even continents. Such was my experience with my College Branding post. The first extension of the conversation was by Lou Caravella of Vital Communications, who wrote a blog post citing mine as inspiration but identifying a fascinating resource I hadn’t seen before and providing his own take. […]

By |July 29th, 2009|

College Branding

It was pure serendipity that I read Brand Immortality by Pringle and Field on my way to a conference where I was to speak about branding to a group of enrollment executives from colleges and universities. It wasn’t a giant “Aha!” moment, but I realized that institutions of higher education represent the longest-lasting brands in our relatively young country.

The authors of Brand Immortality begin their book trying to defeat the notion that brands are transient and have a life cycle much like individual products. They would get no argument about that from most university trustees and administrators, who preside over institutions that have maintained the same name for decades or even centuries. And, make no mistake about it, colleges and universities market themselves – many to survive, a smaller number to thrive. What strikes me as odd is despite the amount of money that most colleges spend on direct mail, print and web advertising, social media marketing, and many other categories, how little they focus on branding. […]

By |July 17th, 2009|