Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Developing a brand strategy: In-house or outsource?

A colleague at another law school asked a good question in a LinkedIn group last week: "What is the best way to (re)discover or redefine your core values? Did you use a consultant or handle it in-house, and would you do it that way again?"

Great question, and since I've been short on extra time for blogging, I thought I'd share part of my answer here:

The starting point for assessing your brand identity is research with your key audiences (students, faculty, staff and alumni) to get a broader understanding than your own to help define the values. The research component is often why many places outsource this process, as independence (and sometimes investment, unfortunately) can add credibility to the results. If you anticipate that tough decisions will need to be made, an external group might be advisable as well (so that if the messenger gets shot, at least it won't be you). Research is now much easier to do in-house with online surveys and focus groups if you have someone who understands research methods well.

By analyzing your research along with your school's mission and values statements and the market environment, you can then move onto the more tangible pieces (logo, tagline, colors, ads/publications/website). Those pieces should also be tested with your key audiences along the way.

If you've got the talent in-house to accomplish the above, the top-down buy-in for your ultimate strategy, and (perhaps most importantly) ample time to devote to the project, then internal brand development may be an option for you.

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