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Culture as a change agent in the higher education branding

A pandemic led disruption has moderated ‘Digital Intimacy’ & ‘Technology Adaptation’ in the Education Industry. This has disrupted the equilibrium in the Education Sector. The Higher Education Market (HEM) is hence highly competitive disrupting the existing USP’s, institutions have been relying on such as Legacy, Brand Equity, Key People, Physical Infrastructure etc. The new normal opens up tremendous opportunities for new players, scalability, innovation, collaboration & growth drivers that makes HEM competitive. The direction of market competition needs a system design incorporating the strengths from the past and adapting to the future. The scalability of Educational Institutions hence need to be redefined in order to retain or grow as a Centre of Excellence (COE). 

The key stakeholders realignment now needs to be calibrated around critical factors such as ‘Digital Readiness’, ‘Critical Thinking’, ‘Innovativeness’, ‘Active Learner Framework’ & ‘Networking and Collaboration’. An examination of these variables reveals the need to audit ‘Hardware’ & ‘Software’ aspects in the Institutions Environment. The hardware elements include variables such as Infrastructure, Environment, Industry Linkages & Resources while the software elements include variables such as People, Culture, Values & Ethos, Experiences & Stakeholder Mindset. 

The dynamics of change have gained momentum which now brings in new meanings for the Acronym VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity) in the Education Industry.

An exploration into this problem using Design Thinking methodology led us to the need of ‘Culture Branding (CB)’. Culture Branding combines a brand in a suggestive and credible way with a proper cultural idea. As culture is not static, but constantly evolving, cultural ideas may have different characteristics: residual (based on past issues), dominant (based on present, mainstream issues) or emergent (based on new, fresh, emerging issues). Culture Branding is a result of social structures shift, some of those shifts create a demand for new cultural expressions. These kinds of shifts are called social disruption, and they create ideological opportunities for companies and brands. One of such social shifts is connected with the current Pandemic led disruption. The impact of such a branding activity will help in reinforcing the critical factors in the stake holders. Culture Based Branding results in extreme ownership and involvement among the stakeholders to align with the vision of the Institutions. CB will help in maximizing the usage of hardware factors & strong binding to the software factors. The key impact areas of CB are Organization Culture (OC) & Organization Development (OD), effective communication of organizations vision, Stakeholder engagement, High Brand Loyalty, and Brand Visibility. The above said variable acts as a key ingredient in the scalability of organization that will overcome the threat of survival from multiple dimensions. Higher Education Institutions looking forward to change in order to overcome their business problems may adopt Culture Branding for efficacy and effectiveness. 

Jackson D'silva

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