Let’s play a quick game. I’m going to describe a university, and you can guess which one it is.

Expert academics, cutting-edge facilities, and a close-knit, diverse community of students. We offer hands-on education and a supportive environment, with a wide range of degrees to choose from and fantastic career prospects when you graduate.

Okay, I didn’t actually have a single particular university in mind, but admit it – neither did you. So why is it so common that universities and other HEI’s fall back on these comfortable, noncommittal phrases when they’re marketing to students? Some might chalk it up to laziness, but it’s much more likely that in an industry full of clever people trying to say the same thing differently, and still ending up sounding the same, it’s hard figuring out how to stand out.

Screengrab of University of Bantshire Twitter Page

So much so that even us education marketers have attracted our own parody account on Twitter. For the uninitiated, and for those wanting a laugh, check out The University of Bantshire. And if you catch yourself sounding anything like them, you know you’re in trouble.

Why you need a unique TOV 

A 2017 study for Universities UK showed that nearly 50% of students now consider themselves as customers of their university. With the introduction of increased tuition costs, coupled with rises in cost of living, students increasingly see attending university as an investment, and a decision that needs more careful consideration than ever before.

And so for HEI’s trying to convince students that they’re the best option, it’s vital to make sure they stand out.

To accomplish this, institutions are starting to embrace the notion of establishing their own unique tone of voice. Many are starting to realise that formality and complex language isn’t going to get them anywhere with the student audience anymore, and that they need to start communicating in a much clearer, lighter tone, to get prospective students to engage with their message.

But it’s not just about how you say it - a lot of it’s about what you have to say. So although it’s important to come across accessible and human, it’s also still important to pinpoint what your university has to offer and how that truly makes you different.

Maybe it’s an Instagram-worthy campus location. Or a brand new investment in some top-notch science labs. Or a nice big scholarship offering enough to cover Domino’s pizzas every week. Pick your best features, and make them prominent instead of just compiling a list that tends to get lost in a sea of website content. Make them feel real and explain their value. Or better yet, get students to visit and let them convince themselves.

No matter what these features are, it’s clearly no longer enough to simply namedrop a selection of USPs – you need to embrace the tone that suits your institution, nail down the facts that make them special, and then use this information to make it tangible for a potential student.

If you want help to establish a tone of voice and a unique identity, then get in touch with our experts. And don’t miss out.. make sure you’ve downloaded our guide on standing out in a crowded marketplace.

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Article by

Natives Author Image Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

Advertising Copywriter