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16 / Summer 2011 / RECORD
feature StOry
new brand
lumni know Mount Allison
has a reputation for being one
of Canada's top universities.
Over the past few years Mount Allison
has been on a roll in terms of attracting
students, improving retention rates, and
raising funds for the Jump Campaign.
But as we all know, resting on one's
laurels is never a good thing. To reinforce
its position in a sector that grows more
competitive each year and support its
ambition to be recognized as one of
north America's best, the University has
been pressed to think and act in new and
innovative ways.
Given the current demographic decline in
Atlantic Canada, it has become ever more
important to create awareness with new
audiences and communicate that which
makes Mount Allison unique in a power-
ful, intentional, and consistent way.
Since last summer the University has
been engaged in a branding project where
students, faculty, staff, alumni, thought
leaders, prospective students, and univer-
sity students from across Canada and the
northeastern U.S. have participated in
focus groups, one-on-one interviews, and
online surveys. The purpose was to help
discover and define what makes Mount
Allison different from its peers and
competitors. The project involved firms
with plenty of experience in the higher
education sector: The Strategic Counsel,
well-known for their work on
The Globe
and Mail's annual University Report
Card, and Trajectory, a brand strategy
group that has done work with a number
of universities.
Researchers discovered that Mount
Allison's distinctive qualities made it
unique in Canada and positioned it within
a small group of similar top-tier universities
in the U.S. Unfortunately it was also
ascertained that while Mount Allison's
story was admired, compelling, and
relevant, too few people knew or under-
stood it -- the study found that outside the
Atlantic Region, Mount Allison's profile
was far lower than expected or desired.
The importance of building the University's
reputation extends to all its audiences:
students, faculty, alumni, supporters,
businesses, and government. Early in the
branding process the look, voice, feel, and
messaging of University communications
were reviewed and a number of inconsis-
tencies and even conflicts were revealed.
While audiences have different needs the
quality, relevance, and value of the
Mount Allison experience must be
conveyed to all in a consistent manner
that strengthens identity and reinforces
competitive advantages.
One of the branding project's key goals
was to help the University influence how
it is perceived. Using the right messaging,
choosing the right communication
channels, and consistently using the new
visual identity, will help ensure that those
who would thrive at Mount Allison know
of the University and have a "brand"
preference for it. This preference comes
inpart from the reality of today's market-
place, where universties are bigger and
more impersonal than ever. Unlike others,
Mount Allison offers an intimate, sup-
portive, tight-knit, 24/7 community
where one can get lost in their thoughts,
not in the shuffle.
For those who know Mount Allison, this
will not be anything new and that is the way
it should be. Branding is a management tool,
not a magic bullet. It is meant to give shape
to what is real in an organization. What the
University now has is a clear, compelling,
and consistent way to tell its story.
Mount Allison
is quite simply
one of Canada's
leading education
Jeanette hanna,
of Brand strategy at
tra Jectory