“Slogans which so deafened us that we could not hear the truth”
These words were written about nationalistic propaganda, but they could just as easily apply to marketing. A slogan can be a powerful tool, but the trouble is that they are so ubiquitous, it is very hard indeed to stand out when you have something meaningful to say.
Some are simply catchy and focused on memorability. Jeff Goodby´s famous “got milk?” slogan, known by millions of Americans, only appeared because the only time Jeff ever thought about milk was when he had run out of it; devastatingly effective as a slogan, but perhaps best suited to one-dimensional staple products.
So what about something more complex and emotive like education? How can you come up with something that tells people what defines you, and distill that mission and vision into one phrase that embodies belief and principle?
“Enhancing uniqueness” is the slogan of ESEI Business School, and we are proud of it. Why? Because we asked the question that people often forget to ask as they search for something that “sounds good”, and that question is: what does it actually mean?
So let´s look at what is actually behind the slogan.
First of all, you can only enhance something that you already have. We could never claim to “develop” uniqueness, but we could at least try to create an environment which respects people´s right to be who they are, and to give them the space and support to find their own voice
One example of this is ESEI Skate Team. Mark, ESEI´s Academic Manager, has been a skateboarder for more than 20 years. He tells us that he “never felt comfortable arriving at work in other universities on a skateboard” and it was as if “you had to hide who you really were because the environment was so stiff and serious”. When Mark arrived at ESEI, and discovered that Madars Apse, European skateboarder of the year 2013, was among the alumni, he knew he was at home. A logo was designed, t-shirts printed, and ESEI Skate Team was born. Aside from Mark, 8 students are now part of the team, skating together once a week and meeting skaters from different communities around Barcelona. As second-year student, Alexander Dyakonov posted recently on Facebook, “how many schools have events for skaters?” and we are really happy to offer something so different.
Another act that gives substance to the slogan is the HUMANS OF ESEI. An idea of former ESEI masters student Ahmed Maged, Humans of ESEI is a platform to celebrate the diversity of the school, and is inspired of course by the famous Humans of New York Project. With students from more than 25 countries, ESEI is a rich tapestry of cultures and contexts, voices and visions; all of which deserve to be heard.
Students need to find a way to have their own experiences at university as well. The real experience should not be taking place when class ends, or an opportunity has been missed. Our recent social leadership Project has just finished, and the students finalised their self-reflection writings to document their own personal journey.
But still you need more. If there truly is belief behind a slogan, then the whole organizational culture needs to support it. It is an integral chord in the harmony of mission, vision and values. From a wide-ranging network internship programmes that match students with companies that will help them to grow, to collaborations with organisations such as culture trip, who offer our students a training programme to reach 2 million unique visitors as content writers for their websites. From regular individual tutorials to events which really resonate with young people, like December´s guest-speaker event with the founder of Piknik Electronic. From staff who know everybody´s name and everybody´s story, to a community of students who help and support each other and make sure nobody is excluded, there really is an alternative to the impersonal, anonymous character of the traditional university.
So when you choose a slogan for your brand, make sure you really are prepared to make it ring true, put meaning behind it, and stand out above the noise.
By Mark Thomson, ESEI Academic Manager