In an increasingly standardized , competitive and international market, higher education institutions must differentiate. In order to do this, the brand plays an important role. Formerly the privileged field of large private companies, in recent years the brand has also become the key for schools and universities who wish to secure their future and to shine in the world.
Despite the efforts, it is clear that few institutions are able to hold their own in the game, mainly because building a brand takes time and requires a strong financial and human investment. Positioning and differentiating the brand in original territory will hold the attention of audiences for a time, but beyond that there are many other factors involved in building a strong and truly vibrant brand.
Today, more and more schools and universities see the campus as a fundamental element in the mechanics of building their brand. Much more than mere places of training, the campus is also the realization of the most visible brand promise. The flagship stores of major brands such as Louis Vuitton on the Champs Elysee in Paris or Apple on 5th Avenue in New York are the most obvious example. These shops are completely dedicated to a brand and offer a wide range of products from the company. These places symbolize the brands territory; its image and its values.
In light of this therefore it is not surprising that a campus is designed and built in the spirit of the materialization of the brand. Moreover, it is partly for this reason that more and more institutions are investing in innovative and value-adding architectural projects, incorporating leading technology and designed with concern for sustainable development. The campus thus becomes a place to live up to their image, both aesthetically pleasing and optimized for the transmission of knowledge.
Among the most striking examples, the new Medical Center at Columbia University is particularly impressive. Its construction will begin in early 2013 and will take about three and a half years. The futuristic project includes 14 floors. Developed around a concept of verticality, the building has been designed in line with a new teaching method focused on teamwork and collaboration. In addition to the buzz, the building emphasizes the innovation and dynamism of Columbia University. Ultimately, this will enhance its brand image around the core values that are modernism, innovation and collaboration.
Another great project is the University and Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna. The architectural design is based on a gigantic glass outer corrugated structure. The building includes alternative exhibition spaces and large areas for classrooms, workshops and storage spaces. There are also two spheres on the roof for casual events. Again, such a building is able to reflect the modernity and innovation shown by the University of Applied Arts Vienna.
In France, even if the projects are less impressive, it should be noted nevertheless the new campus of the EDHEC Lille, will be opened there shortly. This high school has more than 40,000m2 of space, with 20 lecture theaters consisting of 100 seats each.
The architectural design is bold for its size but also for its many innovative services for students: an e-learning platform, research laboratories, cultural spaces etc.. All these facilities are designed to optimize the time spent on campus and improve student life. Beyond all of this, such a campus allows the Grande Ecole to display its ambitions in France as well as abroad, strengthening its both its reputation and its image.
by Brigitte Fournier, Founder and Director of Noir Sur Blanc, Twitter: @b_fournier