Branding a University Media Department/Unique issues related to the branding of a university media department

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How can a university media department develop a clear, consistent, unmistakable brand when the department itself is so diverse? Target audience diversity adds complexity to this challenge. Can one message be tailored for high school juniors, their parents, transfer students, continuing education (older) students and current students? Recognizing, understanding and designing for primary and secondary target audiences might be the answer to this dilemma.

For recruiting purposes, this might be a reasonable market emphasis for an undergraduate recruiting purposes
  • 70% - High school juniors
  • 20% - Parents (the ones who usually pay the bill)
  • 10% - All others

For internal purposes a different branding emphasis is required

This brand would not contradict the external recruiting brand, but would highlight academic credibility, professional credentials and careers.

  • 50% - Current students
  • 30% - Transfer and continuing education students. Some of these may be non-traditional students, online degree-seekers, etc.
  • 20% - Parents and their children.

Justification for dual messages is supported by these facts:

  • A more specific user description allows more targeted branding which results in a more effective message.
  • Design should be integrated across platforms to have a common feel, tone of voice, personality, etc. Academic voice is stodgy and does not resonate with student-prospects. (CEF)
  • Media designed for each of these audiences is significantly different (see below).
  • Most university recruiting media ignores experiences that are unique to high school juniors - differences that are accelerating over time.

Media content designed for high school juniors should:

  • Be designed as immersive experiences, not just information sharing.
  • Invite participation at every opportunity, with linear viewing experiences being minimized.
  • Be driven by visual messages, using images, not words, to convey information.
  • Invite participation by incorporating social media at every level

Media designed for high school juniors should be authentic, honest, gritty, fast-paced and brief. The commercial polish of broadcast media is not appropriate or effective for this audience. These are possible ways to obtain a unique look and feel

  • Show large images whenever possible (at least 600 pixels at 72 dpi or larger).
  • Don't use posed shots, but shoot students in action.
  • Don't put images in boxes on a page, but integrate photos with design elements.
  • Shoot people, not facilities, showing facilities only when people are using them.
  • Use realistic, but post-processed, obviously branded images.
  • Shoot 90% closeups as well as extreme closeups for emotional impact on mobile devices.
  • Show action (pan blurs, freeze frames, etc.)
  • Shoot and archive RAW files to accommodate future trends such as HDR, 3D stills, etc.

  • Shoot HD, 16x9 with DSLRs using extremely limited depth of field
  • Develop a heavily branded, film-like look
  • Shoot hand-held with a glide cam and DSLR mounts
  • Shoot in the field, not in studios (except for green screening)
  • Post process with Apple Color and Red Giant's Trapcode Suite
  • Compress for all distributions (TV, the web, mobile devices, email attachments, Vimeo/Youtube, etc.)
  • Archive RAW HD files for future trends in video treatments
  • Consider innovative point-of-view shooting such as helo-cams, balloon cams, zip line cams, multi-cam surround video, under water GoPros, etc.
  • Anticipate commercially acceptable 3D video (as early as 2012?) by learning dual camera techniques and post-processing software.

  • Treat music as the single most powerful media communication element. Don't minimize music with background hack tracks from cheap supply sources
  • Allow high school students to rate music tracks under consideration for production via on-line focus groups. Don't assume anything about their music preferences
  • Use music everywhere, but provide volume, on/off controls and alternative track choices via on-line music players.

  • Integrate text as a design element
  • Design with taglines
  • Bullet point. Say everything in less words. Delete every word not essential to the message.

Media Navigation
  • Use navigational buttons liberally. Require user response at every opportunity
  • Integrate social media links when possible including Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook, Tweets, Bloggs, texting with current students, etc.
  • Use chapter markers to navigate every video longer than 30 seconds
  • Design all content for all platforms:
  • Interactive PDFs
  • Self-contained movies
  • Websites
  • Mobile media including iPads and readers