Branding in the education sector


Building brands for great educational experiences is a major challenge because we never stop learning. Our product designer, Ada Fàbregas, said so on Solublabla Pódcast. The digital world is moving at cruising speed and the education sector is one of the sectors that is, and has been, on the most intense path.

Traditionally, this market was dominated by a few large players, but digitalization and the crisis have multiplied the offer. Thanks to their knowledge, many professionals started to train others, and education became a very attractive business. This breeding ground keeps offering many opportunities to lead communities and grow in many directions. At the same time, it is a reality that provokes fierce, very heterogeneous competition —by model, by price, by niche— which means that knowledge is no longer enough. To really take advantage of this red ocean business, an essential tool is needed: the brand. Let's review together the role of branding in the education sector.

Matching thanks to the brand

For students or professionals who have decided to improve their skills, the consideration phase of the funnel is very important. Searching, comparing and searching again to find that perfect course is an experience as frequent as it is logical. It is at this moment that the brand becomes a necessary asset to reach the 'brand personas' with whom we know there is a perfect match.

Projecting our essence and getting them to identify with us is the first step to attracting attention, being at the top of their minds and generating a loyal community that serves as a basis to consolidate and grow. We know this because we accompanied Codely on a very similar mission. They are an online training platform for coders that has nothing to do with a typical online academy, neither in content nor in form. Their purpose is to have fun while advancing in the coding sector.

A powerful idea that can be used strategically and complemented at the identity level with, for example, fantasy elements —we are even talking about visual assets with flamingos or pineapples— to help them to be clear in their value proposition. Then, they can easily reach people seeking knowledge about 'coding without hassles', the great creative concept of their brand. Surely, the target audience slides to the right.

Being different and consistent

Our experience in the education sector has also revealed to us that in education, digital and offline points of contact often coexist: a classroom, perhaps virtual, a teacher and also other elements that make a difference —for better or worse— such as the learning platform, the e-mails that a student receives and even the payment process to enrol.

Everything is brand. Therefore, a well-defined strategy will help us make the right decisions and be perceived as we really want to be. First impressions count, and a lot, but then you have to live up to them.

Actually, that was our objective in working with IESE, a world leader in MBAs and Executive Education. Their educational proposal is excellent, and so is their physical campus. Thus, the digital experience had to match it. We worked on My IESE to build a platform with a very careful onboarding, a live and responsive dashboard and a design system that allows their team to grow without brand-related inconsistencies.

Selling more

At the end of the day, these paths are signals of a specific reality: the brand helps to get more sales and satisfied students in a market marked by saturation. Not only by making clear the rational benefits but also by showing and confirming what goes beyond the purely rational: values, experience when studying, our purpose... Intangibles that represent a very important added value and help to create a desire that is critical for all the funnel stages. Each teacher has their own book, and many times, we love them not so much for what they teach us but for what they manage to see and get out of us in the learning process. In other words, going beyond a specific product or course and delivering an experience that is consistent with our promises will increase satisfaction and allow for the transfer of brand equity between all programs.

Increasing recurrence, enabling scalability

Therefore, a brand with deep roots is the only way to go beyond specific individuals and capture all the attributes that make a student choose to study at one organization over another. And that translates into higher recurrence.

This was the case of DevExpert and its creator, Antonio Leiva. His purpose, at the time latent, was to guide developers to the bright side of coding, and he detected the need to work on the brand so that the project would not be limited. We helped them encapsulate its essence and shape the identity, both visually and verbally. We also designed their website, empowering the team along the way.

With this process, it's only a matter of time before the brand speaks and represents itself through every touchpoint —personal, physical, digital— without changing what is told or how it is told. And there lies the ability to scale without risk. But the truth is that we are taking for granted that an important path will be taken, the longest one: activating the brand.

Consolidating to maximize ROI

The strategic work helps to identify the phases of our students' decision, experimentation, and recommendation process. In consequence, this will allow us to be more effective. Knowing what we need to talk about and where and how to do it facilitates the generation of content and maximizes the return on investment. Working on the brand so that the educational offer appears to be as good as it really is. Activating it so that the value reaches the right people and use it as a lever to consolidate and scale.

At Soluble, nothing happens for just a single person. To make this article possible, the contribution of Marta Factor and Cristian R. Marín in the writing and Daniel Senior in the visual design was necessary.