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.

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