I can’t say that “Pioneering new frontiers” is an electrifying tagline, but I will say that featuring Warren Buffett on gigantic rolling billboards is solid brand marketing.
University of Nebraska is flaunting its multi-billionaire alum in a campaign that speaks to the demands of students and parents. These customers want to know if paying thousands of dollars to spend time at this place is worth it. Buffet assures them it is. And when it comes to investing, he’s credible.
Marketing a university education is a tough business. Competition for customers is fierce. Not every one of the 4000 or so universities has the knack yet. Looking at college taglines is a bit like picking over the white socks at Marshalls. You’ll find a pair that fits, but it won’t get you a date.
Despite the need to reach and motivate America’s emotionally on-fire teenagers, many colleges simply resort to conventional nagging of the young. “Never stop questioning,” intones Binghampton University. “Work toward greatness” urges Pace. Utica College simply offers three big-sounding nouns: “Tradition. Opportunity. Transformation.” followed by a registration mark – ® – in case you had any notion of stealing this gem.
The people who adopted these lines have heard too many commencement addresses.
There is a reason “Invent the Future” was chosen by Virginia Tech in 2006, used earlier at University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and used, in variation, by Dow Corning, which promises to “help you invent the future.” It’s because the phrase sounds stirring and visionary. But any college or company engaged in R&D might like the line and try to use it.
It’s difficult to come up with something original, if that’s the goal. More important is capturing the spirit of the university in all communications and marketing – and creating a true brand.
Of course, the University of Miami simply capitalizes on its single greatest brand pillar – its location. This institution sent out mailings that none-too-coyly promised an enjoyable four years: “University of Miami: The difference is Miami.” Mmmm. You can almost smell the cocoa butter from here.