Brand associations in the higher education sector: The difference between shared and owned associations

Abas Mirzaei*, Elham Siuki, David Gray, Lester W. Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article evaluates brand associations in higher education. It examines the brand associations of healthy and unhealthy universities. This article also compares the students' shared brand associations with universities' owned communicated brand associations across healthy and unhealthy universities. A multi-pronged methodology is used. First, a new behavioural long-term-oriented measure of brand health is applied to classify universities in England into healthy and unhealthy. Second, undertaking a content analysis methodology, Leximancer is used to data mine textual feedback from an online community of university graduates. Leximancer is also used to analyse the brand associations communicated on universities' own Websites and compare it with students' perceived brand associations across healthy and unhealthy universities. The results showed healthy universities communicate themes such as opportunities and support services, whereas unhealthy brands mainly focus on facilities and cognitive benefits. In addition, the analysis revealed that students in healthy universities mainly associate themselves to university-related experiences, while in unhealthy universities, students associate themselves to the city and country-related experiences. The methods described enable managers in the higher education sector to communicate a more distinguished brand associations and to create a better alignment between owned brand association and shared brand association.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-438
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Brand Management
Volume23
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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