REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

No-name brands About 10 years ago, I took a trip to Egypt and brought back a treasure that is still pinned to the wall in my office—a packet of Chiclets printed in Arabic script. I was amazed that the product was instantly recognizable even though I have no clue how to read Arabic. Several products are now being promoted solely through the use of brand shape and color. Last fall, billboards in town displayed a huge smiling face with a pop-art style background of rice boxes. Who wouldn’t recognize the man as Uncle Ben, even though the type on the boxes was too small to read? This summer, Baltimore billboards display playful words like “chewniversity,” “hungerectomy,” and “substantialicious” in colors and shapes that evoke the Snickers brand.

Perhaps these no-name campaigns work so well because they make us feel like we’re in on a secret. This “less is more” approach might work for colleges that seek to engage alumni—many of whom are passionate about their alma maters. Consider whether your university could conjure up its brand with color, shape, or a photographic detail alone.

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