Branding Universities

Topics: Malaysia, University, Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning Pages: 30 (7452 words) Published: October 7, 2013
Discourse & Communication
http://dcm.sagepub.com

Re-branding academic institutions with corporate advertising: a genre perspective
Hajibah Osman
DISCOURSE & COMMUNICATION 2008; 2; 57
DOI: 10.1177/1750481307085577
The online version of this article can be found at:
http://dcm.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/2/1/57

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ARTICLE

Osman: Re-branding academic institutions with corporate advertising

57

Re-branding academic institutions
with corporate advertising:
a genre perspective
Discourse & Communication
Copyright © 2008
SAGE Publications.
(Los Angeles, London, New Delhi
and Singapore)
www.sagepublications.com
Vol 2(1): 57–77
10.1177/1750481307085577

HAJIBAH OSMAN
U N I V E R S I T I T E K N O L O G I M A R A , S E L A N G O R , M A L AY S I A

The end of the 1990s witnessed the corporatization of public universities in Malaysia resulting in the publication of corporate literature in these universities and the type of writing Fairclough (1993) refers to as the marketization of academic discourse. Marketization is necessary in public universities due to stiff competition in attracting students among the public universities as well as from the increasing number of private universities. This article reports how Malaysian universities re-brand themselves using the results of an investigation on corporate brochures from these universities. The investigation employs a structural analysis and a textual analysis. Although informative in nature, these corporate brochures exhibit the use of promotional elements in the texts as seen in the contents and the language use. The communicative functions of university brochures are viewed to be more promotional than informative.

ABSTRACT

KEY WORDS:

brochures, corporate culture, genre analysis, re-branding, universities

Introduction
Academic institutions, particularly public universities, used to be regarded as the pinnacle of learning. Most of these universities were reputed for providing the best tertiary education and the mere mention of their names lit up the faces of those who had the privilege of learning from these fountains of knowledge and those who aspired to be associated with them. There was a time when admission was ‘by invitation only’, otherwise young men and women were seen struggling to gain admission into these prestigious institutions. These public universities acquired a promotional value (Wernick, 1991) without having to promote or market themselves. In advertising terms, these universities did not go through the process of branding.

Branding is a fundamental strategic process of effectively marketing a product or service which includes creating a brand name and identity, designing

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58 Discourse & Communication 2(1)

the packaging and promoting the product or service (Randall, 1997). Although Randall (1997) argues that ‘brands (and therefore branding) are so fundamentally important to the survival and success of many firms’ (p. 2), this was not the case in public universities in the past. This is significantly due to the fact that these academic institutions were claimed to be free from other influences as evidenced by Cardinal Newman’s view of universities cited by Wernick (1991) as: . . . the high protecting power of all knowledge and science, of fact and principle, of inquiry and discovery, of experiment and speculation; it maps out the territory of the...

Citations: http://dcm.sagepub.com/cgi/content/refs/2/1/57
Downloaded from http://dcm.sagepub.com by Heemal Kasseean on October 9, 2009
universities in Malaysia resulting in the publication of corporate literature in
these universities and the type of writing Fairclough (1993) refers to as the
to gain admission into these prestigious institutions. These public universities
acquired a promotional value (Wernick, 1991) without having to promote or
Branding is a fundamental strategic process of effectively marketing a product or service which includes creating a brand name and identity, designing
Downloaded from http://dcm.sagepub.com by Heemal Kasseean on October 9, 2009
58 Discourse & Communication 2(1)
the packaging and promoting the product or service (Randall, 1997)
Randall (1997) argues that ‘brands (and therefore branding) are so fundamentally
important to the survival and success of many firms’ (p
by Cardinal Newman’s view of universities cited by Wernick (1991) as:

any side . . . (Cardinal Newman, 1847, cited in Wernick, 1991:151)
That was the traditional image of public universities, independent of political
created the promotional value (Wernick, 1991) of these universities, mentioned
earlier as the pinnacle of learning
(Randall, 1997: 67) for themselves as the success of branding is justified when
people are reminded of a particular brand just by looking at the logo or hearing
The traditional role of public universities was to manage society (Jarvis,
2001) by producing scholars in the various fields of study so that they can go out
started changing from serving the state in managing society to serving the
industry and commerce in ensuring that people are employable (Jarvis, 2001).
This is partly due to the demands of the contemporary knowledge-based society
(Veitch, 1999) where consumers have become more knowledgeable and have
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