The importance of branding in service companies

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Branding plays a special role in service companies because strong brands increase customers' trust of the invisible purchase. Strong brands enable customers to better visualize and understand intangible products. They reduce customers' perceived monetary, social, or safety risk in buying services, which are difficult to evaluate prior to purchase. Strong brands are the surrogates when the company offers no fabric to touch, no trousers to try on, no watermelons or apples to scrutinize, no automobile to test-drive. In packaged goods, the product is the primary brand.

However, with services, the company is the primary brand. The locus of brand impact differs for services because they lack the tangibility that allows packaging, labeling, and displaying. It is not possible to package and display an entertainment or transportation service in the same way as Kodak packages and displays film.

A comprehensive review of literature on research materials, articles and evaluation reports is done to assess the debate how students choose universities.

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Aesop's fable of the dispute between the North Wind and the Sun as to which was the strongest provides a salutary reminder that soft power can match, as well as surpass, hard power. You may remember that it was the sun's heat that caused the traveler to remove his coat rather than the brute force of the wind's power. There are lessons here for contemporary organizations which might fail to recognize the strength and strategic importance of their corporate brand and the importance of customer, employee and stakeholder (corporate brand) identification. This is especially the case in higher education (HE) where student identification with a corporate brand/identity appears to be of considerable importance and, sometimes, high emotional involvement. (John & Mei-Na, 2007)

When I applied to my university some 30 years ago, the question was rather "academic": did I want to go to a university close to home or one farther away? Various factors led me to come to the conclusion that I would apply to a school 1,000 miles from the oversight of my parents, but in an area where I had extended family. The logic, rationale, and analysis that goes into today's college admission process is much more complex with considerably more information and tools available to "help" a student make a good selection. (David, 2007)

Greater competition among schools exists today to attract the best and brightest students. A university is no Longer just an institution of higher learning but also a business. In a competitive marketplace, awareness of business metrics becomes more critical. (David, 2007)

Various corporate marketing strategies are being employed in the academic world as universities search for ways to improve ranking. (David, 2007)

Teachers are professionals who use their knowledge and experience to assist their students as clients and who act in accordance with a set of values so that their conduct towards these clients is both ethical and professional. Their concerns are usually with the quality of educational experience which they provide to students and only rarely and reluctantly with the commercial or marketing aspects of their work. Yet the latter provide crucial constraints on resources which inevitably affect outcomes. (Janet & Hugh, 1996)

Marketing is a philosophy of management through which institutions consider debate and clarify their underlying principles and purposes to meet the needs of their clients. Educational marketing requires the identification of student and community needs and a commitment to meeting those needs with a high quality product. (Janet & Hugh, 1996)

The aspect of marketing which seems to cause most offence in schools is that which relates to selling. It is thought to be unprofessional, if not unethical, for professional careers to try to attract custom when their implicit professional codes emphasize looking after people altruistically. On the other hand, clients and potential clients may need to know the quality of a school's product/process and the competence of its staff if they are to make reasoned choices about how best to meet their own needs. School prospectuses and open days give parents some basis for informed choices as well as being means of giving them some account of how well a school is looking after their children. (Janet & Hugh, 1996)

Universities can improve student retention (i.e. continuing with the same university after the undergraduate) by attempting to increase their level of satisfaction; their efforts will be more effective if focused on demonstrating the way that the service provided has helped their customers to achieve their objectives, thus highlighting the strategic importance of the social value. University governance can undertake strategies to achieve greater customer loyalty and higher consumption of the service and acquire more customers. (Luca & Salvatore, 2010)

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Students do not consider traditional university promotional tools such as the web site, prospectus and other written material as significant in their choice and decision making, since they find the information provided through these channels as inadequate, misleading or not trustworthy for their decision making. Therefore, universities should consider other ways to promote themselves on the market. University promotional messages need to lay emphasis on issues students find most important to them and not issues universities think are most important to students. This implies that the more favorable the students' perception of the reputation the higher the student's loyalty. In order to increase student satisfaction and loyalty, managers of the universities should focus on aspects such as service quality, information and facilities. Since service quality is strongly linked to value creation (student satisfaction), this antecedent should be the first one considered. (Luca & Salvatore, 2010)

Universities are becoming more aggressive in their marketing activities and need to be clear about their positioning and the image they want to convey to their public. An appropriate marketing mix can be developed which not only takes into account environmental factors, but also an identification of student needs and the ability of the institution to meet these needs. In particular, the university choice depends on two different categories of elements: the university related factors and the student related ones. However, the two overlapping areas of education reflect on such a classification. In fact, these two categories are reciprocally interrelated and the weight of each on the value formation depends on the dynamics of the relationship between university and its students. (Luca & Salvatore, 2010)

The strategic goal of most organizations is to establish a corporate identity that will be both viable in the marketplace and accepted by society, and to create a consistent corporate image that meets the demands of all groups of stakeholders. Corporate identity is constructed internally by stakeholders of the organization. (Tamilla, Russell & William, 2009)

In order to compete in the marketplace for the best students, qualified faculty and staff, as well as donors, universities should have a strong corporate brand. The harmonized relationship between corporate identity and corporate image for the multiple stakeholders at the multiple-campus system can be a challenging task. The clear definition of the university brand combined with the strong leadership is one of the important aspects to be successful. Higher education provides many similar "products." Universities with strong historical and cultural legacies have benefits in offering a clear foundation for their corporate branding efforts. The alignment between corporate branding, which consists of the corporate identity and perceived corporate image and reputation, and organizational culture contribute to awareness among all stakeholders about who the university is and what it stands for. The internal acceptance of the revised brand at all levels plays a critical role in promoting the corporate brand to external stakeholders and making the institution sustainable in the long run. (Tamilla et al, 2009)

Educational institutions including schools and universities will be well served through using corporate branding strategies, as opposed to product branding strategies. For intangible products such as education, corporate brands involve and engage all stakeholders, including students, parents, the community, the government, and employees, amongst others. Through corporate branding, the image of the organization, as opposed to the attributes of a product (education) is used to differentiate the organization, and build the value of an educational institution. (Joo-Gim & Michael, 2008)

Ann and Jingsong consider the difference and interrelationship between the concept of reputation and brand within the context of higher education. Owing to the nature of education and often intangible and latent outcomes, it is difficult for students to decipher reputation although it is often one of the key indicators for prospective students (and their parents) to choose a university. Perception of fairness, leadership and quality of an institution are more important in influencing consuming behavior. (Ann & Jingsong, 2010)

Ann and Jingsong findings confirmed previous research that university reputation played a key role in prospective students' decision-making process and brand awareness. In particular, brand trust in the university had a positive effect on community's opinion of a prospective college. Furthermore, it may be concluded that the community construed the reputation of education providers without considering their demographic background. (Ann & Jingsong, 2010)

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The study by Rehnuma, Roger & Sharmila asked 25 university marketing and communications directors and managers in London and the south east of England to outline what they believed young people who were considering entering university regarded as constituting the main elements of a university brand. The respondents suggested that potential students perceived the existence of six major components of an institution's brand, many of which had parallels within the academic literature in the field, via 'ambience', e.g. being friendly, inviting, innovative, down-to-earth or 'for people like me', location, degree of diversity, and factors to do with visual imagery, and with employability. People in post 1992 universities viewed the degree of the diversity of an institution's student body to represent an extremely important part of its brand, as this was perceived by prospective recruits. Other critical elements were stated to involve the range of the courses offered by a particular university, reputation, and community links. In Views on the components of a university brand 27 reply to prompted questions, the respondents generally agreed that an institution's learning environment and sports and social facilities also comprised significant components of a university brand. (Rehnuma, Roger & Sharmila, 2008)

Positive brand equity is the marketing advantage that accrues to a company from the synergy of brand awareness and brand meaning. Despite the predisposition to think of Branding in the context of tangible products, brand cultivation is just as critical for services. Strong brands increase customers' trust of invisible products while helping them to better understand and visualize what they are buying. Strong-brand service companies consciously pursue distinctiveness in performing and communicating the service, use branding to define their reason for being, connect emotionally with customers, and internalize the brand for service providers so that they will build it for customers. (Leonard, 2000)

Every university considers itself top-notch. But too many schools dilute their blue-ribbon stature by focusing their brand-development efforts on bad advertising or other reactionary approaches. Those universities that succeed in their branding efforts are willing to borrow strategies from the corporate world and get buy-in by engaging all interested constituents in the process. A sound solution is based on a long-term strategy: building a sustainable brand. (Rex, 2009)

Chapter 3

Industrial Analysis

Industrial Analysis

The education industry consists of schools, colleges, universities and various private institutions. The education sector can be broadly classified into following categories:

Elementary & Secondary: This includes the education offered from nursery to the twelfth grade by various public, private and religious schools.

Higher education: This includes various state-run and private colleges and universities. This also includes Med Schools, Law Schools and Business Schools.

Vocational education: This includes industry/job oriented education, based on the apprenticeship method of learning.

The education industry is not just restricted to these categories. It also includes supplementary education services, such as after-school tutoring, license schools, special or alternative education, educational content suppliers and professional development of administrators and teachers.

Literacy is the acquisition of basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. In other words, Literacy is the meaningful acquisition, development and use of the written language. In Pakistan, the definition of literate is structured at the time of Population Census. In the 1998 Population Census, a literate person has been defined as "One who can read newspaper and write a simple letter in any language". As per Survey 2007 the estimated literacy Rate has comes to 56% in 2007.

History of the Education Industry

Education has been practiced since time immemorial to instill social and cultural values. In the ancient times, the education system was verbal, carried out generally by the elders of the family. The writing system developed around 3500 BC, enabling the recording and sharing of information. In most ancient societies, the state of literacy was bleak for centuries.

The education industry was initially associated with law, trade and commerce, religion and civil administration. Formal education was available to only a small fraction of the population. The system developed in most countries after 1850 CE.

The modern education industry consists of training by professionals and organized instructions with respect to systematic curricula and pedagogy.

Demand & Supply Drivers of the Education Industry

The demand drivers of the education sector include:

Household disposable income.

Cost of education.

Opportunity cost of education (education versus job).

Cultural factors (opinion on education of girls).

Role of government to boost education.

The supply drivers of the industry include:

Availability of labor force (teachers and administrators).

Government funding (to establish affordable education centers)

Changes in social outlook.

Higher Education Commission (HEC)

The Higher Education Commission (HEC), formerly the University Grant Commission, is the primary regulator of higher education in Pakistan. It also facilitates the development of higher educational system in Pakistan. Its main purpose is to upgrade the Universities of Pakistan to be centers of education, research and development.

The HEC is also playing a leading role towards building a knowledge based economy in Pakistan by giving out hundreds of doctoral scholarships for education abroad every year.

HEC Programs and Projects

HEC main programs are following:

Faculty development

Curriculum revision

Higher education infrastructure development

Indigenous scholarships

Foreign scholarships

Patent filing support

Conference travel grants

Increase industry and university research collaboration

Developing new technology parks

HEC Achievements

The creation of HEC has had a positive impact on higher education in Pakistan.

a) Established the finest Digital Library in Pakistan: Every student in every public sector university today has access to 45,000 textbooks research monographs from 220 international publishers as well as to 25,000 international research journals - regarded as one of the best digital libraries anywhere in the world.

b) Tripled University enrollment from 135,000 in the year 2003 to 400,000 in 2008.

c) Promoted research, resulting in huge expansion of international research publications from Pakistan from only 600 research papers /yr in 2003 to 4300 research papers in 2008.

d) During the 56 year period (1947-2003) not a single Pakistani university could be ranked among the top 600 universities in the world. Today 5 of Pakistani universities are in this category with the National University of Science and Technology standing at a very respectable number 350.

e) Four year undergraduate program introduced so that our degrees are internationally recognized.

f) About 5000 Ph.D. level scholarships awarded for study in technologically advanced countries (largest program in developing world) and some 3,000 indigenous Ph.D. scholarships have been awarded. The world's largest Fulbright Scholarship program (US $ 150 million) launched with joint funding (HEC/USAID).

g) Fifty one new universities and degree awarding institutes and 18 campuses of existing universities established during (2003-2008).

These phenomenal developments have been described as a "Silent Revolution" by the World Bank in a comprehensive report, and a number of editorials and articles have appeared in the world's leading science journal, Nature. In the most recent editorial (3rd September 2009) Nature has stated that what Pakistan has done under Prof. Atta-ur-Rahman's leadership during 2002-2008 is a lesson for other developing countries.

Region

Universities

Public

Private

AJK

4

2

2

Balochistan

8

6

6

Federal Area

16

13

3

Gilgit-Baltistan

1

1

-

NWFP

24

15

9

Punjab

40

22

18

Sindh

39

14

25

Total

132

73

59

Chapter 4

Organizational Overview

Bahria University

Bahria University is also known as "BU". It is a multi campus university with it headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan. BU has two main campuses, one in Islamabad and the other in Karachi, Pakistan. It was established by the Pakistan Navy in February 2000 by Presidential Ordinance No. V of 2000. Bahria is a coeducational public university recognized by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan and the Pakistan Engineering Council. It offers various two- and four-year programs for undergraduates and graduates, backed by a research institute. The main emphasis of the university is on engineering and management sciences, though other disciplines are also offered.

Mission

Bahria University is a multi-campus institution of higher education, which will remain committed to the attainment of highest standards in teaching, learning and research. The scholars and professionals it produces will be encouraged to pursue truth, civility and integrity.

Objectives

In pursuing this mission, the University has following objectives:

Establish Campuses, Research Institutes, Schools and Colleges across the length and breadth of Pakistan to turn the rapidly increasing population into knowledge based force.

Prepare the younger generation to become future leaders and managers for a prosperous and educated Pakistan, through development of their physical, mental, moral and professional strengths.

Ensure academic excellence through quality education in disciplined and peaceful learning environments.

To offer students the benefits of intellectual challenge, and to nurture skills and qualities they need for their professional careers ahead and to enable them to achieve full potential as individuals.

Constantly monitor and upgrade facilities and update the curricula to keep pace with the emerging trends and technologies.

Coordinate and provide facilities for exchange of knowledge and applied research in the newly emerging fields in collaboration with national and international Universities and Research Institutions.

Bahria University in a glimpse

Federally Chartered University. Disciplined, secure and congenial learning environment.

Custom built campuses equipped with state-of-the-art facilities conducive to the achievement of academic excellence. 

Experienced and qualified faculty dedicated to excellence in teaching, customized training and applied research. 

An up-to-date, career oriented and skills focused curriculum aimed at developing technical expertise, managerial capabilities for meeting the challenges of the 21st century. 

Sizeable resources to innovate and respond to the challenges of the emerging technologies in the present day environment. 

Institutes that are superbly located at easily accessible.

Facilities in Bahria University

Bahria has many facilities some of which are described below:

Health & Security

A well equipped dispensaries are available for emergency requirements of both students and teachers. Bahria makes sure that students are well taken care of in case of need. Ambulance, and security mechanisms are kept alert to deal with and avoid possible emergencies. A hygienic environment is on the other hand, maintained through an effective system, which, as a part of its functions, monitors the general condition of cleanliness and standard of the food supplied at different cafeterias.

Library

At Bahria University the systems applied in the organization of libraries make access to information quick and simple. Supplied with the latest books, periodicals, magazines and journals, the departmental/seminar libraries at different institutes and colleges provide the students with a comprehensive collection of books in the particular areas of studies. The Bahria library is a grand collection of thousands of books, including valuable manuscripts, from all over the world. The library is amongst the best libraries of Pakistan, provided with a scholar's house for the residence of research scholars.

Computer Labs

The elaborate computer facilities at the main and other campuses of the University offer extensive usage hours and state-of-the-art hardware and variety of softwares to make computing real learning experience. The facilities comprise networked PCs (Pentium IV) linked to a wide range of software, communication and print services. The open access policy to the Internet at every campus is a part of an extensive, "Broadband" information network connecting faculties and campuses. All campuses have their own server rooms with intranet and Internet facilities.

Audio and Visual Facilities

The aim being to make the teaching-learning process effective and better, the courses at Bahria University are designed to be conducted with the aid of the latest audio-visual facilities, including over-head projectors, video films, multimedia, software programs and models etc. which are provided as a necessary part in the beautifully designed classrooms and laboratories.

Organizational Structure

The Institute has a team work environment and is lead by the Campus Director.  The other team members are HOD (CS and E), HOD (MS), HOD (E & ES), HOD (SS), Deputy Director Admin, Programs Co-coordinator and Bursar.

Departmental Structure

Any department is headed by HOD and supported by four coordinators, faculty members and other technical staff. Like if we take engineering department then in it, the Engineering Coordinator is responsible to look after all engineering laboratories and engineering curricula. The Course Coordinator is responsible for making time table and solving problems of the students and faculty members. The class advisors are responsible to counsel students for their academic deficiency and keep close coordination with the course coordinator and HOD. Final Year Project Coordinator gives support in finding real world project from the industry and allocating supervisors, arranging their demos for defense of student's projects. Internship coordinator maintains a complete record of student's internship and is responsible for placement of students in the industry and evaluation of their work. The other team members are Faculty Members, System and Lab Engineers.

Affiliated Units

Bahria University has following affiliated units:

Frontier Medical College, Abbottabad

Shifa College of Medicine, Islamabad

Shifa College of Nursing, Islamabad

Islamabad Medical & Dental College, Islamabad

Institute of Education Training , Rawalpindi

Degrees offered

Following programs are being offered in different campuses:

Bachelor programs

Bachelor of Business Administration

Bachelor of Software Engineering

Bachelor of Computer Engineering

Bachelor of Media Studies

Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics

Bachelor of Engineering in Telecom

Bachelor of Electronics and Telecom Management

Bachelor (Hons) in Geology

Bachelor (Hons) in Geophysics

Bachelor of Social Sciences

Bachelor (Hons) in War Studies

Bachelor (Hons) Naval Sciences

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)

Bachelor of Dental Surgery

Bachelor of Electronics and Telecom Management (ETM)

Bachelor of Social Sciences

Master programs

Master of Business Administration

Master of Science in Computer Engineering

Master of Science in Telecom & Networking

Master of Science in Software Engineering

Master of Science Geology

Master of Science Professional Psychology

PMD programs

PMD Educational Psychology

PMD Clinical Psychology

PMD Organizational Psychology

M.Phil. programs

M.Phil. Clinical Psychology

M.Phil. Educational Psychology

M.Phil. Organizational Psychology

Ph.D. programs

Ph.D. Clinical Psychology

Ph.D. Educational Psychology

Ph.D. Organizational Psychology

Achievements and awards

Bahria University is the first Pakistani university to join more than 300 universities across the Asia-Pacific region that has deployed mobile computing and wireless technologies.

Bahria University is the first Pakistani university to link its degree program with community service.

Bahria University has taken an initiative to equip 4500 students with branded laptops with wireless technology. In this regard, the university has signed MOUs with Intel, Acer Inc., and the Bank of Punjab. Laptops are provided to students at discounted prices with installment plans.

Bahria University will be the first university in Pakistan to establish a campus at Gawadar. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has approved the establishment of the Institute of Marine Sciences at Gawadar while the Pakistan Navy will provide land for the same.