Universities Approach to Environmental Sustainability and How it Enhances Their Brand Values
There are many debates that seem to capture the attention of the world quite as spectacularly as Environmental Concerns have. The ultimate result of such a mass attention to a topic has meant that much media coverage besides the administrative and Government Level Attention has been given in this direction, with the ultimate aim of finding a solution of curbing this problem that can go on to effect the entire humankind.
Therefore it is not surprising at all that this awareness and the concern regarding the Environment has meant that there has been an overall change in the way Institutes, no matter of what category, deal with this issue. This awareness has also meant that there has been an overall change in the way policies are drafted which can impact the image of such Institutes.
Today the concept of Environmental Sustainability is more or less found in all major cooperation's and Institutions and steps are being taken to make it more and more part of the policies so that its effects can be felt and seen across the board (Brown, 2005). The World Bank defines Environmental Sustainability as,
"Ensuring that the overall productivity of accumulated human and physical capital resulting from development actions more than compensates for the direct or indirect loss or degradation of the environment" (World Bank, n.d.)
This awareness and its implications have become quite apparent especially in the fields of Art and Architecture. Today many projects, both in the Commercial and Residential categories are taking the green road and including Sustainability as a must have factor. This aspect tends to have a double meaning to the image building of a Project and therefore it is not surprising that 68% of the Fortune 250 companies now publicly report about their social and environmental initiatives besides their financial performance (Strandberg Consulting, 2009). The impact of this step has been seen on the financial indexes as well with the Dow Jones Sustainability Index performing 36.1% better than the traditional DOW Index. This is a direct repercussion of the fact that employees and customers both want to be associated with a company that has a fine reputation for serving them the best while having an Environmental concern. This has meant that a clear market driving force has been at play and therefore the apparent impact on the way companies have been doing business is visible.
It is therefore there has been a visible change in the way products market themselves and how they tend to brand themselves. The concept of branding has been one of the most fundamental tools in the world of marketing and Cooperation's and has gone a long way in making or breaking a product. The correct branding and promotion of a brand can not only make it a desirable household man but can even go a long way in instilling an emotion of loyalty between the customers and the product in itself.
Branding as a concept has been defined as a way of identifying with a product or even an institute for that matter. As a concept it goes on to relate to more than just the logo and even goes on to include the services and benefits that one may get upon interacting with that brand.
The concept of branding is not only about selling the product, but is in a fact about the entire persona that can be associated with a brand. A brand today is marketed as an intangible item associated with the very personality of the person and how they are perceived upon the use or the purchase of that brand (JWT Education, 2006).
Branding the Educational Institutes:
The Educational Institutes in the Western Hemisphere are all big institutes with even the smaller units having budgets equivalent to that of a third world country, amounting up to millions of dollars, while those of the larger universities can go up to billions (Toncich, n.d.).
The University and the Educational Sectors have more or less been very stable markets for a considerable period of time, however the recent changes in the economy has meant that many Universities are now facing budget cuts. The impact has been felt by most of the European Countries including Latvia, which was among the first one in having its budget cut, to Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Italy, etc. (European Universities Association, 2011).
This has meant that Universities have had to employ new means to sustain themselves in such times. Branding has been one of the most important steps in this regards that have been taken up by universities all over the world, which is a drastic shift from the traditional idea of consumer items (Marrs, 2011).
This has also meant that they have had to find new means to attract the crowds, especially the International Students. There has been a steady increase in the demand of Higher Education among International Education and there is no doubt that it is a market with a lot of potential to be tapped upon (Neil Kemp, n.d.).
It is in this vicinity that the real impact of the image or the brand value of the University tends to play a role, and has been defined as the number one key factor in determining the choice for a University, even before fees and programs (Toncich, n.d.).
In the competitive world that exists today with regards to universities, it is not surprising that many universities are approaching the new populace with an efficient brand conscious image in the head and this hardly varying from the brand imaging of any other product that exists in the market (Herr, n.d.).
This competitive nature and emergence of Universities as the new commercial enterprises that advertise themselves as been linked to the bidding of the student talent and how having a star talent can impact the image of the University as a brand (Moore, 2006). There is also the realization that the brand of the university tends to attract more students and therefore the building up of this image today is taking the front seat in the way Universities promote themselves (JWT Education, 2006). Today more and more Universities are taking on the role of a quasi-commercial service industry and evolving from their restricted image as an Education Sector.
As with regards to businesses and cooperation's who's Green Agendas seem to have an impact on how they are perceived, similarly Universities too are out to create an impact with similar agendas.
The Impact on British Universities:
British Universities in the rift of the Economic crisis have had to face some serious budget cuts. Britain Universities are expected to have their annual budget cut down by 40% for the year 2014-15. This would go on to impact not only the teaching staff and budget but also the research departments within the many Universities (European Universities Association, 2011). With this scenario, like other universities, British Universities too would need to rely more and more on Private Funding and donors and it is not surprising that therefore the impact of branding and imaging to attract star talent is going to be fundamental to the Marketing Strategies of such Universities.
The impact of this thought has been visible across the globe and has been established in the section above. However, the major theme and the focus of this research would continue to be the British Universities and how they are adhering to this fast changing world.
The research would also take into consideration what are these steps that are being put to Practice and how instrumental are they in attracting the International Students which are essential in surviving.
Already the topic of Sustainability is being approached with much seriousness by the concerned Departments in the Universities, which is much apparent by the fact that even universities are now publishing their Annual Sustainability reports (University of Birmingham, n.d.), which also goes on to indicate that the market factors are at play in this sector as well.
This brand conscious image has meant that today many universities are highlighting the sustainable aspect of their grounds and buildings on their websites and prospectus to cater to the new demands of the society.
There is little or no Literature as such available on this topic, therefore the major wrights of the research would fall on the Quantitative and Qualitative aspects of the Research. However Literature regarding the impact of Green Buildings on the reputation of the image of a Project, Marketing Strategies and Environmental Sustainability are all available and will help in contributing towards the research.
The research would take into consideration both the Qualitative and the Quantitative aspects of this topic. The Qualitative part would consider structured one on one interview with the major shareholders in this research as well as experts. The share holders will include the Administration and Marketing Department of a University, while along with them opinions from the marketing experts will also be taken into consideration who can put…
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