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Q: Why is Bentley undertaking an advertising campaign, focused on the Bentley brand, at this time?
A: This is really the second and “public” phase of a branding campaign that began last fall when a new brand position and logo were introduced on campus and in student recruitment materials. The advertising campaign will present the brand position via advertising and social media to a broader audience. The brand message focuses on how a business university such as Bentley prepares each student for success in career and life.
Q: Why are television and radio the principal media for the campaign?
A: Primarily because they have some advantages in delivering brand messaging to a broad audience. The television animation and the audio in both the tv and radio spots provide a dimension that digital banner ads and print would not convey as effectively.
Q: What about the use of social media?
A: Social media, especially Twitter, can engage people in the Bentley community and beyond in a discussion about the advantages of studying at a business university. A robust conversation, encompassing many points of view, ultimately extends and personalizes the brand advertising campaign for an even wider audience.
Q. I expected the campaign theme to be “Prepared.” Is it still part of our brand communication?
A: Prepared actually anchors our Brand positioning. And while we often use the specific word in our communications, it is not a requirement. The advertising campaign emphasizes the virtues of the business university and the pillars that support in preparing students for success.
Q: Why are we doing this? What is the rationale?
A: The Board of Trustees and the academic and administrative leadership at Bentley felt strongly that we needed to do a better job of defining Bentley and establishing a stronger position for the institution in the competitive higher education market. Bentley has a good reputation among those familiar with us. Yet we still have lower than optimal awareness and a dated or limited perception among some audiences. We need to address these issues to recruit top applicants at the undergraduate and graduate level, leading faculty, and the best companies to recruit our graduates and support our key programs. Finally, we have the opportunity to further enhance the value of a Bentley degree by increasing our awareness and our reputation among key stakeholders.
Q: Why now?
A: There is a growing demand for graduates with strong core business and critical thinking skills. Bentley is one of the few business universities in the country, uniquely positioned to meet this growing market demand. We have a window of opportunity over the next few years to establish a strong position that differentiates us in an intensely competitive market – one in which the value of an education is being called into question. In addition, as we prepare to celebrate our 100th anniversary, it is the right time to leverage our current strengths and position Bentley for the next 100 years.
Q: What level of work was done to understand our brand and the marketplace?
A: A significant amount of research was done over the last year that included face-to-face interviews and a two-phase market survey of up to 11 internal and external audiences that gauged awareness and perception, identified key attributes, and tested positioning and creative concepts. We analyzed the results, which provided strong direction on our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The research also informed areas we needed to address such as low general awareness, attitudes and perception of a business education and of Bentley as an institution. Above all, we were able to identify the core attributes we needed to elevate and the key messages that were most appealing to our target audiences.
Q: How did we arrive at the “prepared” positioning with the declaration of “Preparing the next generation of smart, nimble, and compassionate leaders?
A: Bentley is clearly and positively identified as an institution that provides a unique and appealing form of preparation for its students. This preparation applies to a rewarding career but also a fulfilling life outside the office. It is recognized and credible for Bentley as a business university that a) successfully integrates its core business curriculum with strong and relevant liberal arts courses; b) supports its courses with extensive hands-on learning, c) features technology throughout its courses and programs, and d) has a proven track record in career planning that starts in year one. Bentley integrates all this in a very distinctive way that is recognized and valued by the outside world. Thus, we speak from a credible position when we claim that we are preparing the next generation of smart, nimble, compassionate leaders. Those familiar with us already know and attest to this. The next step is to expand this reputation to more people throughout our target audiences.
Q: We have had a number of marketing initiatives or campaigns over the years like “Portfolio 360” and “Business in a Whole New Light.” How is this different?
A: There is a difference between a brand positioning and identity, and a campaign. A brand positioning is more strategic and long term in its focus. The brand identity that graphically represents the brand should be a long-term investment as well. That is the primary goal with the project. The new “campaign” with advertising (TV, online, digital, social) begins that process. Advertising campaigns may come and go and in some cases taglines do too. Brand positioning and brand identity are intended to be more permanent. Granted, this has been a challenge at Bentley over the last several years – we had a number of campaigns but not a consistent brand positioning, identity, and messaging. You may characterize it as a message in search of a positioning. We need to lead with a well-informed positioning. Positioning is the function, the campaign is the form – form follows function in this case. It should also be noted that during this period we transitioned from a college to a university, which has broad institutional implications at a very strategic level. Our goal with this extensive brand project was to address these issues by investing in research to really understand who we are and how key audiences perceive us.