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Perception of University Naming Styles

Year: 2023

Presenter Name: Madison Collins

In this study, we aimed to assess whether the placement of 'university' within the universities' naming correlates significantly with the perception of the university. We looked at two naming styles, "University of [Location]" and "[Location] of University". To ascertain whether there was a preference in naming style we classified universities based on their naming styles and determined whether there is a significant correlation between naming style and rank. Rising tuition costs, the shift to online learning, and widespread funding cuts have increased competition among universities for prospective students and dwindling resources. Understanding the public perception of a universities' brand is more critical than ever to keep current students and attract prospective students in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Many universities have turned to marketing as a tool to attract new students and manage public perception through branding. A university's name is the most visible element of its brand, and a potential foot in the door to any further investigation from prospective students and faculty. Managing perception surrounding a university's name could offer Universities a significant competitive advantage. University branding is a snapshot of the value, prestige, and opportunity a university has to offer. Cultivating a university brand that quickly relays the value of the university while differentiating it from the competition requires parsing out perceptions surrounding a university's brand and refining the most visible elements. Individuals often form their opinions about organizations based on a series of perceptions rather than merit or research. (Vigoda-Gadot et al., 2003) Uncovering common perceptions associated with university branding is imperative to efficacious marketing to obtain prospective students and researchers. In 2018, higher education institutions received $1.068 trillion in revenue from federal and non-federal funding sources. (Data Lab, 2019) Allocation of funding is disproportionately focused on universities with high university rankings. Despite the amount of funding and rising tuition costs, many Universities are facing shutdown or consolidation. Since 2016 75 not-for-profit universities have been closed or consolidated in the USA. (Higher Ed, 2022) In 2014 researchers found that a traditional heraldic corporate visual identity (CVI) increased perceived trustworthiness in a university representative, but failed to find a strong correlation between a university name and its perception. (Idris, 2014) Research surrounding university renaming as a branding strategy has not been fully explored. In Italy, a study looking at 'city' versus 'region' naming styles found that naming city-of-location naming strategy was preferred to the region-of-location naming strategy, but no previous research has looked at the placement of 'University' within a university's name and the associated potential benefit to choosing one over the other. (Peluso & Guido, 2011)
University / Institution: Utah State University
Type: Poster
Format: Virtual
Area of Research: Business
Faculty Mentor: Matthew Meng