As Higher Education is being scrutinized from multiple directions, it is more important than ever before to focus on solid branding and marketing in our institutions. SUNYCUAD hosted a panel discussion with local Rochester communications leaders to pick their brains about what makes for great brands.


  • Tod Martin, President and Chief Creative Officer, The Martin Group
  • Michael Doyle, Regional President of Entercom Communications
  • Karl Withers, Associate Vice President of Marketing for the University of Rochester Medical Center
  • Lisa Feinstein, Vice President for Advancement at The Strong

Here are our biggest takeaways:

  • Being relevant is the first piece, and the next piece is to tell stories. Tell a story, don’t make a claim.
  • Define your brand strategy and positioning first. Tactical implementation will be derived from them later.
  • You have to figure out how to take your position message and implement it for each of your audiences.
  • Technology sometimes blinds us to the core strategy and positioning. Don’t think about tools first.
  • You have to be consistent across all channels.
  • Audiences respond to authentic stories.
  • Value market research – it helps understanding of how people perceive you, and can determine differences based on demographics and location.
  • It’s harder and harder to pick the medium. You need to start with the message.
  • The University is a fortress. What are we all about? What binds us together? It becomes very rich once you find the answer.
  • The brand challenge is internal as well as external. You need to sell the brand to those who work at the organization just as much as those who are outside.
  • The creative should answer back to the strategy and positioning. The brand story and creative messaging lead into the tactical implementation.
  • The rebranding of Strong Health to the University of Rochester Medical Center to UR Medicine. took 6 years, and that’s a huge undertaking in that short a time.
  • Your brand strategy needs to reflect your business strategy.
  • Cool and different is great as long as it matches the business strategy.
  • How do you convince senior executives that this isn’t going to happen overnight? Sell it like you’re running for office. Use metrics to back up your claim.

Article Author

Fran Zablocki

Fran Zablocki

Strategist, mStoner Inc.

Fran Zablocki brings ten years of marketing strategy, project management, and alumni relations experience to mStoner. As a strategist for mStoner, Fran is responsible for leading the overall vision and direction of client solutions.