At Lumina Foundation, we understand the power of a brand. It’s something we think about daily. Are we staying true to our mission? Are we creating experiences with our grantees that are inclusive and designed for success? When people visit our website, walk through our office doors, or interact with our staff, do they have an experience that is memorable and provides a sense of belonging? And are we living up to all that we stand for?

We recognize that our brand is not a static image or external advertisement – our brand is who we are. The importance of walking the talk and creating a brand sensory experience should be at the core of any mission driven organization – especially higher education.

From the website to the parking lot to the classroom, every touchpoint is an opportunity to build a college’s brand.

A college’s brand speaks for the college even when words from leadership are not spoken.

Community members, employers, potential donors, and potential students will form an opinion about your college based on every aspect of their college interaction. It’s not enough to tell students the campus is committed to their success. When they make the effort to visit campus, can they easily find their way to essential services and supports? When they navigate the website, can they find the information curated and designed with their needs in mind? When they move about the campus, does the environment say we care about your experience, you belong here, we see you – and we want you here? When they reach out for help, are they faced with long lines or never-ending virtual wait times?

A college’s brand doesn’t start and stop with who the college says it is. It’s not an external marketing campaign or one point in time. It’s words, experiences, actions, care, attention to detail – and a deep focus on carrying out the mission of the organization with excellence at every touchpoint. As colleges that primarily educate students who live and work in their communities, community colleges must be more than functional and more than practical. The experience of education is one of the most powerful experiences of a lifetime. And when people have a positive educational experience, they wear it with pride. They tell their friends and family, they hang the banner, and they experience the lifelong benefits that higher education can bring.

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This article is from the Community College Insights Winter 2023 newslettter. Read the full newsletter »

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