University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Effective Brand Management

Effective brand management protects the integrity of our academics, research, and public engagement missions.

According to Education Marketing Group, Ltd., no return on investment study can quantify with any degree of specificity the effect of branding on a university. There is no way to put a quantifiable number on the value of the university’s brand. However, the university’s reputation for excellence is worth hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars. How do you quantify keeping that reputation? Keeping the university’s reputation is definitely worth more than the alternative, which is that our degrees are worth less.

By using a brand architecture to effectively manage one core brand instead of the current practice of managing hundreds of brands, we protect the integrity of our academics, research, and public engagement missions. We are a university, not a multiversity.


  1. In a marketplace of highly fragmented media, the cost of reaching fragmented audiences has risen significantly and the number of competitors who are branding has increased. In order to be effective, the university must leverage every marketing dollar on its core brand.
  2. Effective brand management protects the consistency and integrity of the core brand. Without it, audiences don’t understand how the College of Fine and Applied Arts fits in with other campus units such as the College of Engineering and will not connect the breadth and depth of the research, academics and public engagement efforts of the university. Effective use of a brand architecture also allows the campus to distinguish itself from the Springfield and Chicago campuses.
    1. Brand architecture provides a rubric through which discussions can be channeled and decisions made, such as: “What is the potential impact of this new unit or product on our audiences?”
    2. It allows us to better assess the risk if something goes wrong and understand how that will affect research dollars, enrollment, and funding.
  1. Having a centrally managed brand architecture leverages the brand management expertise of the campus. It is not realistic to expect that each unit would have the expertise and ability to effectively manage a brand. Managing one brand gives the campus a strategic advantage over those in higher education who don’t manage their brands. Public Affairs is large enough to manage one core brand, but not more than 700 different ones. It’s a much tighter, leaner approach that allows us to spend less while more effectively marketing the institution.
  2. It is easier to manage the growth of new products and services and ends the confusion created by the multitude of competing brands and logos.
  3. Using a brand architecture to effectively manage one core brand gives university leaders the ability to shape the brand over time. Institutions must evolve and constantly seek to increase the interest of targeted audiences.