Re-Branding the University of Montana

The University of Montana is about to get a major overhaul- not physically, but in a way that will still be seen, felt, and heard by all of us in years to come. In my classes I have learned so much about branding and market research, but today's re-branding event topped my list of educational experiences here at the University. I was honored to be part of a group of people brainstorming the University's new brand image with Mind Over Media consultants from Pittsburgh, P.A.

The instructions were simple, walk up to each board around the room and answer one question using a marker or post-it, and make sure to interact with the other contributors' thoughts. Questions included "What is most distinctive about the University?" and "What makes you feel connected to the University?" along with "What is the University best known for?" These open-ended questions were food for thought, designed to draw out the best, most positive characteristics about the University from the people who are here every day. These clear positives are what the firm intends to emphasize to gain attention from students, donors, and other people and businesses who interact with the University.

The use of exploratory research data is just what my instructor, Dr. Emily Plant was teaching us about yesterday in our Marketing 366: Marketing Research class, and there is nothing quite like seeing it in action with professionals. When a company wants to solve a very broad marketing problem but isn't sure how to refine their survey questions, they will hold a focus group or in-depth interviews with the target market, in order to find clear themes or patterns from which to base their survey.

Once the University of Montana is able to identify their most positive, most valuable features, they must determine how to best spread that message to anyone who is considering interacting with the University. That's where the survey comes in. Finally, as these positives are shared and gain attention, the underlying benefits of the University will gain attention as well.

It's a technique that can be applied to so many scenarios. Just like refining a resume, we need to discover our most clear and valuable strengths and tailor that message to whoever may hear. Before we can begin to understand our customers, we must first understand ourselves. How do you think this re-branding effort will turn out? What do you think are the most marketable aspects of the University and living in Missoula? I'd love to hear from you.

Never stop learning, growing, and reaching!
~Laura

Content by Laura Gabriele