Put on your digital jacket, Mr. University!
The English writer George Bernard Shaw once noted that we wear our reputation like a jacket. I rarely resort to quotations as I prefer texts without borrowings. But it in this case the Mr. Shaw's "patented" thought very accurately reflects everything that I have the honor to inform you with this article.

We are going to talk with you about the part of a university's reputation associated with its neat, trustworthy, and respectful appearance on the Internet. I have to admit that my message is not new at all but still it is useful the more so not all of our colleagues.

The General and Specific
The majority of target audience of modern universities is young and passionate about the progress, more often on the web. At the same time, about 80–85% of the Earth population are visu- als by their psychological type, that is, they perceive information mainly through the organ of vision. Without irony, take a look at how young people think and communicate if you have not paid attention before. They use images and pictures more often than other means of communications. Our brave new dig- ital world was created for them — social networks and instant messengers are everywhere. Typing many letters is not a great thing when you have smileys, stickers, emoji, and surely there should be something else.

These are the representatives of the younger generation who have become or will become prospective students of Russian universities. Now look at them, and at your university's website; back to them and to the website. Immediately after this exercise open the layouts of your marketing materials and a minute later think about the need of the adaptation for mobile devices and applications for the App Store and Google Play. It is good if you find out that the university has everything in place. And the right thing is that you not only have to have these in place but also this stuff should look like services beloved by the young generation which are convenient and pleasant to use.

Answer yourself an important question: is your university attrac- tive for young people who meet it for the first time on the In- ternet. Be on the same page with them. Give them a beautiful picture and a modern interface that will help them to find any in- formation they need intuitively.

Causes and Effects
Over the past COVD-19 year which caused a great migration of people to the Online, Education Export Center together with Russian universities organized a lot of activities for pro- spective students from around the world. This allowed us to collect some valuable statistics.

For example, it was a revelation for me how few boys, girls, and even their parents use personal computers. Since I am in my 30s, I still prefer to use my laptop — it accompanies me in all my trips. However, 77% of young African participants of our activities use mobile devices while 93% of applicants from the countries of the Indian Subcontinent (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.) went to watch presentations of our universities from their smartphones. Only 6% used their PCs and just 1% of the five thousandth audience of live broadcast used their tablets.

Friends, let us repeat our recent exercise but this time using a mobile phone. Look at the target audience and on the website of the university; to the audience and to the website. An important part of the work related to creation of the university appearance on the Internet is based on adaptation to mobile phones. The reality is that people want to watch and here is from their smartphones. And going into this digital world we should look clear and friendly for them, the youth.

The Old and New
There are no brands that live long without necessary changes sharpened to modern trends. The university is a brand. Education is a highly competitive market. The size of the global higher education market is US$76.4 bln. More than 750 universities operate in Russia alone while there are over 19,900 recognized universities in the world, according to UNESCO. With this in mind, shouldn't the university in its struggle for students try to play according to the well-known rules of business?

Here are some popular examples based on transcontinental giants' stories. Pepsi has changed its corporate identity countless times. The most noticeable transformations occurred in 1898, 1905, 1906, 1951, 1962, 1971, 1987, 1991, 1998, 2005 (I hope you are not tired of reading this sequence). Conservative Adidas introduced major changes only three times — in the '60s, in 1997, and in 2001. It was the merits of the extremely successful stylistic solutions applied even by Adi Dassler. The most famous search engine in the world, Google, also did not stand still and from 1998 to 2021 was updated at least 6 times. McDonalds updated corporate identity 9 times in its history, while Apple had three major changes.

I will not bore you with further exhausting citation of well-known facts anymore. Re-branding is a topic for another conversation. I mentioned the facts just to ensure you that even top corporations which do not neglect this dynamic walk in step with the times.

Wrapping up the little that I have managed to outline in this text, I will note the simplicity of the algorithm:
Timely work on the university brand, making it attractive for young people while preserving traditions at the same time and strengthening them with new modern design solutions.
Put yourself in your own potential students' shoes and constantly ask yourself whether your university is clear enough for them, whether it is open and friendly enough when looking at it on the Internet.
Take into account the technical features of the presentation of information — adaptation for mobile devices, the use of graphic elements, etc.
Future belongs to those who strive for it. We invite you to go there together. But wait a minute! First — wear your compelling jacket, Mr. University!
Some helpful branding tips from EEC
  1. See how readable your university's logo is on the website and in the mobile application. Perhaps it requires a simplified version for small sizes.
  2. Think how your logo is different from other similar ones in the industry. This is important for identification.
  3. Whether your logo is modern? Compare yourself with well-known universities in the world and private universities in Russia (for example, British Higher School of Art and Design). How modern do your content, photos, and fonts look? Entrust the work to specialists who know the trends.
  4. Change without changing yourself. Keep the recognizable part and add a new one, so you will always generate the interest of your target audience.
  5. Constantly improve the performance of your mobile application or mobile version of your website. This is the main carrier of your brand for the vast majority of the audience. Make hypotheses, improve application performance.
  6. Bring professional photographers to your events. This will give you good stock of photos. It is better than a bunch of obscure thumbnails. There is nothing better than real photos in a visual story of the university. This is how you can present a quality of classrooms, dormitories, and other things.
  7. Analyze your competitive advantages and support the facts visually. Perhaps you have a beautiful hostel and ski slopes in the winter within the walking distance from the university (again — good photos are required).
  8. Show emotions; do not use the same type of photos of people huddled in a bunch. There must be tempo rhythm. Show that you are real, natural, and emotional.
Mikhail Lazarenko
Director for International Business Development, Education Export Center
Mikhail Lazarenko, Director for International Marketing, Education Export Center, Russia. Mikhail completed his degrees from several top Russian universities in International Management and Information Technology. Over the past ten years, he has worked on international humanitarian projects, promoting Russian culture and education abroad.