The branding of Jesuit higher education: branding, marketing, and collaboration at four Jesuit universities in the United States
This dissertation is an examination of the branding of four Jesuit universities in the United States. From their rich traditions and distinctive Catholic education, Jesuit institutions hold a unique space in the marketplace of higher education. The purpose of this study is to understand if these four Jesuit universities share common themes for how they brand themselves. With increasing attention in higher education to branding and marketing, it is important to understand if Jesuit universities share a common branding framework for how they market and communicate. This qualitative research study is based on interviews with administrators at four Jesuit institutions. A review of websites from each institution will assist in the understanding of the branding of each of the institutions. Mission statements will be reviewed as well. There were three phases of the research: 1) Personal interviews, 2) Review of webpages, and 3) A review of mission statements, which contributed to the triangulation of the research data. This study utilized a social constructivism framework with the understanding that the results will flow from the experiences of the individuals within these institutions as well as their socially constructed language that is utilized within the marketing and mission materials. Findings from this research indicate that the term Jesuit tops the branding charts at Jesuit universities. Furthermore, marketers at Jesuit universities must do a better job of defining branding. The role of marketing and branding at Jesuit universities continues to grow. And, while Jesuit institutions compete for students, they would welcome the opportunity, when available, to collaborate. Steeped in a 450-year tradition of Jesuit philosophy, these institutions maintain a unique brand for prospective students to consider. As the interviews reveal, each institution, as well as the collective Jesuit universities, have challenges and opportunities for the future.