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09/30/2010

What's in a Brand Name?

Our names are important to us. We don’t want someone calling us “Hey, you” or “Ole what’s-her-name.” We’re even happier when someone thinks our personality fits our name.                                        
        Branding The same is true for institutions. A brand name brings to mind not just a product but also all of the attributes that product delivers. It carries with it certain emotions and, if it’s a well-chosen name, encapsulates the brand promise: what the brand will do for the consumer. So it is important that the name fit the personality of the product or, in our case, the university.

Brands can also help us narrow our choices, making sense of the dizzying array of options available. In this age of massive information at their fingertips, students need help navigating overwhelming higher education choices that offer more than 4,400 institutions to choose from and new majors and virtual classrooms being launched every day.

How can our brand here at University of the Sciences provide consumers clarity in the midst of marketplace clutter? How can we ensure our name communicates our brand promise to our potential market?

Over the past two years, the University has taken on an honest self-evaluation. Rather than clinging to our own opinions of our brand, we’ve looked at how our brand is perceived and recognized in the marketplace—with perspective students, with parents, and with guidance counselors. What did we find?

As USciences President Dr. Philip P. Gerbino expresses it in our fall issue of The Bulletin, the University’s alumni magazine: “There is an awareness gap with the acronym USP, and ‘in Philadelphia’ causes confusion or is left out entirely because it is too cumbersome.”

So what does that mean for our institution and how we choose to refer to it in our advertising and communications?

Working with The Star Group of Philadelphia we looked at how our students and alumni and their employers feel about our university. What do they believe we deliver? These are the attributes our brand—and especially our name—must communicate.

What does our organization deliver? Outstanding science education in general, as well as that geared particularly toward healthcare careers. We’ve been doing it successfully for almost two centuries, and our graduates have been and continue to be innovators in their professions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 USciences_2C 

So while University of the Sciences in Philadelphia will remain our officially registered name, we will simply call ourselves University of the Sciences. And in a city where UPenn and UArts are well-known university monikers, USciences seems an appropriate way to shorten our name while differentiating ourselves and still clearly communicating what our brand promise is: superior science-focused education.

What do we hope that folks —our students and alumni, as well as the guidance counselors who recommend them and the employers who hire them—feel about USciences? That the University community delivers on the promise of an unparalleled education that launches them as leaders in the arena where healthcare and science converge. 

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