Shaping Young Minds: The role of logo shape, color and verbal context in forming assumptions about university value
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- Master of Science 
As student mobility has increased worldwide, so has competition among universities. In order to attract the attention, and tuition fees, of prospective students, universities must make a good first impression, which relies on having a strong, positive brand image. However, limited empirical research has been conducted on branding that is specific to the higher education market. Research suggests that students typically desire a university that is both highly competent in meeting their educational needs and provides a warm environment in which they will feel comfortable. This paper explores how visual and verbal cues that suggest competence or warmth can be used in university branding in order to optimize prospective students’ impressions of a university’s value. Our findings suggest that the dimensions of competence and warmth can be most reliably communicated through textual content, but that the colors (and to a lesser extent, shapes) used in university advertising can also play a role. They also suggest the presence of multiple competence cues result in a university being perceived as more valuable than a combination of warmth and competence cues. While further research is needed in this field, these results have immediate managerial relevance. They suggest that universities looking to increase their perceived value among prospective students should add more competence cues to their advertising, especially in the form of text that highlights the school’s rankings, reputation, commitment to research, and quality of faculty. However, universities should be cautious around increasing tuition fees in response to such increases in perceived value. Our research suggests that expected tuition is not directly correlated with perceived value.
Masteroppgave(MSc) in Master of Science in Strategic Marketing Management - Handelshøyskolen BI, 2019