Thursday, April 27, 2006

Reality trumps fiction in "branding the U."

Another kindred spirit weighs in on the branding of universities. It's in today's NY Times op-ed. (reg req)

Excerpt from Stephen Budiansky's op-ed piece:

I RECENTLY did some research for a satirical novel set at a university. The idea was to have a bunch of gags about how colleges prostitute themselves to improve their U.S. News & World Report rankings and keep up a healthy supply of tuition-paying students, while wrapping their craven commercialism in high-minded-sounding academic blather.

I would keep coming up with what I thought were pretty outrageous burlesques of this stuff and then run them by one of my professor friends and he'd say, Oh, yeah, we're doing that.

One of my best bits, or so I thought, was about how the fictional university in my novel had hired a branding consultant to come up with a new name with the hip, possibility-rich freshness needed to appeal to today's students. Two weeks later, a friend called to say it was on the front page of The Times: "To Woo Students, Colleges Choose Names That Sell." Exhibit A was Beaver College, which had changed its name to Arcadia University. Applications doubled.


Anonymous Sothe Dallas Jones said...

I don't see why this seems so astounding to some. This renaming, as well as the packaging issue from your earlier submission is what we do in the USA--It's called MARKETING. We are good at it too.

We don't manufacture as much in country as we used to, but we can market and sell the shit out of pretty much anything. Give me a commodity, any commodity: coffee, burgers and fries, nutritional supplements, schools-public or private, books, authors, vacation sites, large hootered women, or knuckle-dragging men-we can pimp it to the max and get and really awesome ROI. That's how we roll. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous K. said...

I found out the other day that the "students" in the view book at my alma mater are actually models.

I attended a super liberal, progressive, gung-ho personal identity forming, all women's college and was surprised.

When I told my girlfriend, old boy's network school alumni, she was not surprised.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Yvette said...

You didn't excerpt the best part professor: the part where they talk about the silly SAGES seminars at my school!
Though to the credit of the faculty here, they DID have a vote of no confidence in the president who spearheaded the campaign... they were also all very amused by the article yesterday, and it was spreading around campus like wildfire.

6:32 PM  
Anonymous highschoolkid07 said...

Haha! Who would want to go to a school called Beaver College?

O, I heard of Arcadia U. They're in Teen Ink magazine. Hehe.

8:32 PM  
Anonymous renita said...

at my alma mater, they ply the outgoing seniors with free food and gifts to get them to donate $3 to the annual fund; the logic thus: it counts as $1 a year for the next three years, thereby increasing the percentage of young alumns who are giving (and the retention thereof) without actually increasing contributions by much at all! and that percentage is all-important to, you guessed it, US News and World Report...

2:41 AM  
Blogger Professor Zero said...

Where I teach, they hired expensive consultants from a city 1,500 miles away to re-brand us. We got a new logo, new symbol, new mascot and everything -- the symbol/mascot (?) being a plant which does not grow in these latitudes!

If we were going to re-brand, could we not at least have done it ourselves...had
a contest, consulted with the art department, something like this?

6:46 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

It's particularly bad when a college cooks the data it sends to U.S. News and World Report:

8:30 PM  
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