Marketing the College Brand in OntarioReport as inadecuate

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College Quarterly, v8 n4 Fall 2005

Since inception of the Ontario college system in 1967, the quality of a diploma or certificate in comparison to a university degree has been perceived as an inferior rather than alternative academic credential. As public institutions, community colleges are mandated to respond to regional labour force needs, and to provide graduates who will contribute to the social, cultural and economic strength of Ontario. In 2005, the publicly perceived value of college education continues to suffer in comparison to university education, in part due to weak marketing and brand positioning by colleges individually and collectively. Colleges must market themselves as a different rather than inferior postsecondary educational choice, a choice that leads to great jobs and successful careers. Ontario colleges have been able to distinguish themselves locally and globally. Over the past few years, as the concept of offering programs in every field within a defined catchment area has been replaced by product differentiation identifying niche strengths, colleges have become renowned "on the street" for unique programs. The advantage of such programs is the "halo" effect that leverages reputation for one program to a field of endeavour. The complete branding of the Ontario college system remains an elusive objective, with distinct individual college positioning only now emerging in print and electronic advertising and publications. Public and community stereotyping of college students as inferior academically remains at the core of the branding challenge. The image of applied learning as somehow involving dirty hands remains a predominant image, whether linked to automotive, aerospace or culinary careers. Students working with machines, blowing glass, preparing menus, or keyboarding accounts payable appear to "dumb down" the academic knowledge and skills imparted within college curriculum. The challenge, the author contends, is to lift college graduate career opportunities to a new level of understanding and appreciation through visual and linguistic representations designed to persuade and encourage.

Descriptors: Careers, College Curriculum, School Choice, College Graduates, Marketing, Foreign Countries, Employment Opportunities, Higher Education, College Students, Reputation

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology. 1750 Finch Avenue East, Toronto, Ontario M2J 2X5, Canada. Tel: 416-491-5050; Fax: 905-479-4561; Web site:

Author: Holgerson, Ronald



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