Successful Branding for Student Recruitment

4 June 2015

Welcome to Discovering Futures' latest conference on
Successful Branding for Student Recruitment...

an event that will address the power of a brand and how it can be built and sustained to create a competitive advantage.

The agenda features speakers - from the both the commercial and HE sectors - who are leaders in their field and will share their knowledge of branding by engaging with specific challenges, findings and experiences. Whatever your role within your college or institution, the delivery of the brand's promise is the responsibility of all. This conference will offer invaluable new insights into this under-exploited but essential marketing asset.

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Why brand?

As the marketisation of education intensifies, branding has become an essential component of marketing strategy. The sector is highly competitive and we compete not on price but on reputation, on who we are and our values. It is dependent on the people we serve including our students and staff together with our external stakeholders. The value of our brand is determined by those we serve and its relevance.

A successful brand is an invaluable asset in the recruitment and retention of students - and forward-looking colleges and institutions recognise this value. Put simply, it can mean the difference between survival and failure.

A successful brand can only be created if the product or services are good - it has to be defined and live in the hearts and minds of those we serve- a mismatch between image and reality ('the brand promise') will mean your brand will ultimately fail.


Join us

Join the country's foremost experts on branding - from innovative creative agencies to higher education specialists - to gain invaluable new insights and case studies on how to successfully deliver on your brand promise.

Our keynote speaker will be Michael Johnson, founder and director of Johnson Banks, a leading branding agency whose clients include Virgin Atlantic, the Science Museum, Trinity Laban, King's College London, Cystic Fibrosis, and the Royal Mail.

Also on the day's agenda are speakers from the universities of Brighton, Bournemouth, Bournemouth Arts, Portsmouth, Nottingham and Hertfordshire, together with UCAS, The Student Room, and Weber Shandwick. In addition, they are complemented by contributors with national and international branding expertise.


Who should attend?

Branding permeates the culture of all businesses and organisations and as such is relevant to all, but

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in particular those with responsibillities encompassing any of the following disciplines would find the focus of the agenda to be of the most value:

  • admissions
  • corporate communications and reputation
  • human resources and staff training
  • international recruitment
  • marketing
  • partnerships
  • student recruitment
  • student services


Key issues

Our speakers will spark debates on the most important challenges facing marketers and communicators charged with promoting their college or institution's brand promise; they will explore the potential mismatch between promotion and delivery; their presentations will aim to give you new ideas and fresh perspectives to help you re-invigorate your organisation's branding strategies.


Sessions cover:

  • the effectiveness of successful branding
  • building a brand through social media channels
  • the role of employees in supporting the brand promise
  • the challenges of building brands in China and west Africa
  • attracting home and overseas students
  • engaging tomorrow's students
  • introducing a new brand, and
  • the role of pragmatism in brand building.

Successful Branding for Student Recruitment

Agenda - 4 June 2015

 9.00 Registration / refreshments
 9.35 Welcome 
 9.40 Keynote speakerMichael Johnson
Creative Director
Johnson Banks
 Branding in education: must-have or must-ignore?
 10.30 Chris Chapleo
Principal Academic in Marketing
Bournemouth University
Peter Reader
Director of Marketing and Communications
University of Portsmouth

  Branding effectiveness in higher education

 11.15 Break and networking
 11.30  Debate
 chaired by 
 Simon Pride

Professor Sue Halliday
Professor of Marketing
University of Hertfordshire
Dr Paul Temple
Emeritus Professor of Higher Education
UCL Institute of Education

 What is the point of branding in education?
 12.15 Lunch and networking opportunity
 1.00  Special interest sessions 1
  • 1 Mark Higginson
Social Media Manager
University of Brighton
  Social media's impact on your brand
  • 2 Simon Pride
Head of Marketing and Communications
Arts University Bournemouth
 “Push versus Pull” in university marketing
  • 3 Jennifer Williams-Baffoe
Business Development Consultant
Willbaforce Ltd Creative Management
  Building your brand to deliver student recruitment success in Ghana
 1.40 Special interest sessions 2
  • 1 Neil Harrison
Head of Employer Branding & Insight
  Your employer brand is central to the student experience your university provides
  • 2 Liz Wolstenholme
Head of Brand Strategy
Weber Shandwick
  The science of engaging tomorrow's students
  • 3 Alicia Liu
Singing Grass Communications
China’s digital revolution: How do you find your best students?
 2.20 Break and networking
 2.40 Special interest sessions 3
  • 1 Tom Wright
Digital Engagement Manager
University of Nottingham
  Establishing a voice on social media
  • 2 Liz Murphy
Head of Education Marketing & Advertising
  Student Recruitment Tips and Tools
  • 3 Hongbing Iris Cai
Positive Speaking
Doing business in China: making sense of culture, language and branding
 3.20 Special interest sessions 4
  • 1 Stefan Drew
FE Marketing Consultant
College and Trainer Marketing Ltd
  Pragmatic FHE brand experiences: case studies in success and failure

  •  2

 Paul Cernicharo-Terol
Key Account Manager
The Student Room
  How to engage an audience that's engaged in something else
  • 3 Ronke Lawal
Brand Director
Ariatu Public Relations
  Using PR & marketing brand awareness strategies to engage with Nigerian education markets
 4.00 Depart

Please note, the agenda may be subject to last minute revisions.


The Conference Venue:

Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre
108 Stamford Street
London SE1 9NH

neighbourhood centre exterior

Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre is in a prime central location on London's South Bank and easily a

ccessible by bus and train and only a few minutes walk from Waterloo station.

You can see Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre’s location on this Google map.

Getting there

The nearest mainline railway and tube station is Waterloo.
The tube lines that connect at Waterloo are Bakerloo, Jubilee, Northern, and Waterloo and City.

Waterloo is also on many bus routes and easily accessible. You can plan your journey using Transport for London's TfL website.


Overnight accommodation is not included in the conference fee.

There is a wide choice of accommodation available in central London, ranging from the cheap-and-cheerful to luxury five star! You could also Google with your specific requirements but don't forget that the most local hotels will be in the SE1 postcode area.

Your luggage

There is plenty of room at the conference venue to store your coats and overnight bags, should you have luggage with you. Just check it in with us when you register.


Although we hope you won't be distracted by the demands of the office, it's still great to know that there is the convenience of a wifi facility at the conference venue - so you'll be able to keep track of your emails!

About Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre

Max Nasatyr room theatre style web

The Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre is a social enterprise, established by local residents in 1984 following a campaign against large scale office proposals, and is now a place where people live, work and visit. Coin Street Community Builders (CSCB) transformed a largely derelict 13-acre site into a thriving mixed use neighbourhood by creating new co-operative homes, shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars, a park and riverside walkway, and sports facilities. Their income is generated from a variety of sources including the hire of retail and catering spaces, event spaces, meeting room spaces and conference venue spaces as well as the provision of consultancy services.


Michael Johnson (Keynote Speaker)

Creative Director

johnson banks

johnson banks is a London-based brand consultancy with a global reputation. Set up 21 years ago, the company works on design projects as varied as airline rebrands (Virgin Atlantic) and world famous museums (The Science Museum).

They have just rebranded the pioneers of venture philanthropy, Acumen; have advised the Guggenheim on a global art initiative and are working on a major repositioning of Unicef in the UK. In the education sector they have worked on branding projects for Ravensbourne and Trinity Laban, and their fundraising campaign for King’s College London is well on the way to raising £600 million.

The company has consistently shown that a small group of designers and thinkers can consistently solve the thorniest business problems with world-class solutions, whilst demonstrating wit, intelligence and humanity along the way.

In London, their creative director, Michael Johnson’s main job is to oversee the studio’s strategic and creative output, but he is often to be found moonlighting on other projects either as curator or collaborator. He writes for many design journals, judges design competitions and lectures worldwide on branding, identity issues and design history. He’s won most of the design world’s most prestigious awards, including eight Design and Art Direction (D&AD) pencils, has dozens of designs in the V&A’s permanent collection and was D&AD president in 2003, one of the youngest presidents ever.

He has been recognised by both The Guardian and Independent newspapers as one of the most influential designers in the UK and in a recent survey by D&AD of their first 50 years was their seventh most awarded designer of all time. The second edition of his first book, Problem Solved (Phaidon) has just come out, and he is working on two other titles.

Hongbing Iris Cai

Founder and Director

Positive Speaking

Hongbing Iris Cai is a strategic consultant and international speaker and the founder and director of Positive Speaking.

Iris lectures on ‘Effective Communication with Chinese’ which uses a combination of language, culture, and ancient wisdom to provide insights and practical applications into conducting business with Chinese people. She has given over 200 lectures at London Business School and at a number of blue chip companies. She also gives public speeches at London's City Hall.

As a Chinese business and cultural expert, and a teacher of Mandarin, Iris participated for over three years in a weekly BBC Radio 5 LIVE programme, ‘On the Money’, providing insights and advice on doing business in China.

In her consulting work, Iris specialises in the strategy of marketing and branding for the Chinese market. In the education sector, she helps universities implement effective branding strategies in China and also with translation requirements.

With many successful case studies about helping British companies export to China, her advice also influences the UK government to set policies helping SMEs export to China. Her clients include The Royal Mint. She is a regular interviewee on CCTV (Chinese state television) and many other stations as a commemorator on Chinese business matters.

Iris received a Mu-Lan Achievements Award, which celebrates Chinese women’s achievements in the UK at the House of Lords in 2009, in honour of her dedication and contribution to cultural bridge-building between the UK and China. She was also a guest at the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2012. And in February this year, Iris attended a reception at 10 Downing Street, hosted by the prime minister, to mark Prince William's official visit to China and to encourage UK-Chinese business.

Iris was born in Beijing, educated in Xi’an and majored in accounting at university – she has worked for several multinational advertising agencies (WPP Group in China, and also Saatchi & Saatchi China) and transferred to the UK in 2009. Iris now lives in London.

Paul Cernicharo-Terol

Key Account Manager

The Student Room

Paul Cernicharo-Terol has over seven years’ experience working within the dynamic youth and student markets, working both on the media and agency sides. At The Student Room, Paul is dedicated to working across key advertising agency accounts and ensuring the market is kept up to date with TSR portfolio developments.
From his time within an agency environment, Paul is pro-actively involved in new product development and successfully launched The Student Room's new ‘Applicant Conversion’ offering. Paul is a key influencer and has led on numerous successful pitches for new business development and creative directions.
To find out more about Paul:

Chris Chapleo

Head of department and brand consultant

Bournemouth University

Dr. Chris Chapleo is owner of Brand Education consultancy and currently head of the department of marketing at Bournemouth University, where his expertise is in marketing and branding in the non-profit sector, particularly education and charities. He has published, consulted and spoken widely on aspects of branding, and has over 15 papers in peer reviewed journals.

Prior to academia he was a partner in a marketing agency and has held senior marketing roles in the publishing and leisure sectors and higher education, where his interest in the topic first began. He regularly runs workshops on branding, combining an understanding of key theories with impact focused strategies to maximise your brand. Recent projects have involved working with universities, shampoo brands and B2B engineering companies to define and communicate their brands.

Sue Halliday

Professor of Marketing

University of Hertfordshire

Professor Sue Vaux Halliday contributed to recently published textbooks on entrepreneurial marketing, services marketing and on organisational change. She contributed a chapter on marketing, trust and discourse analysis to an edited collection of research papers on discourses of trust. She publishes in a range of journals on service innovation, relational branding and sustainability, including the European Journal of Marketing, Ephemera and the Journal of Management Inquiry. She is a trustee for two charities; one is a small publishing business where she is helping them move from a production focus to a more customer-oriented set of business processes. Relational branding is a key part of that strategy. She is a fellow of the RSA as her values overlap with their four values: independence, commitment, honesty and openness.

Neil Harrison

Head of Employer Branding and Insight

TMP Worldwide

Neil has worked in the field of employer branding for over 20 years, unlocking the value of an organisation’s employee value proposition across a number of different industry sectors. His work in the field of Higher Education has seen him work closely with the University of Sheffield in order to define, construct and deploy employee messaging touching both external recruitment audiences and internal engagement communities. Neil is a regular speaker on the subject of the deliverables an authentic employer branding can deliver for organisations and its relationship with consumer messaging.

Mark Higginson


Out To Sea

Mark Higginson was the social media manager at the University of Brighton and is particularly interested in how attention works on the web and how this is applied to marketing, presenting an alternative evidence-based viewpoint that runs counter to much of the prevailing industry thinking.
He spent eight years working agency-side; six of those in one of the first specialist social media teams in the country and as the leader of that team for three years.
He blogs at and has been quoted in or written for The Guardian, The Metro, New Media Age, Marketing magazine and Sparksheet, among others, in reference to his work and has spoken at events including Social Media Week and the Online Information Show.
He recently founded digital agency Out to Sea and works for a number of education clients.

Ronke Lawal


Ariatu Public Relations

Ronke Lawal was born in Hackney, east London of Nigerian parentage. Having graduated with honours from Lancaster University and the University of Richmond Virginia (USA) with a degree in International Business (Economics), she started her own business in 2004.

In 2011 Ronke Lawal was honoured to receive a Precious award for inspirational leadership. In January 2010, Ronke became the chief executive of the Islington Chamber of Commerce where she remained until the end of 2012 and became a non-executive director of The Hoxton Apprentice in 2011. She joined the board of trustees of Voluntary Action Islington in 2012 where she is also a director of The Voluntary Action Academy and is currently on the employers panel for the National Employment Savings Trust. She is a mentor for The Cherie Blair Foundation and for The Elevation Networks Start Ups Initiative.

She is a passionate business woman running Ariatu Public Relations, a public relations and marketing consultancy. The main core of her client based comes from the African and Caribbean diaspora in particular West Africa with a wide range of clients in Nigeria, many of whom have offices based there as well as in the UK. She has travelled frequently to Nigeria in line with her business activities and continues to build the business brand across Africa.

Alicia Liu


Singing Grass Communications

Alicia is the founder and managing director of Singing Grass, a strategic communications consultancy based in London that connects the world with China through arts, lifestyle and culture.

Leveraging her network in the media and arts spheres in both China and Europe, she has been instrumental in creating strategic communications and business development programmes for international clients ranging from Gieves & Hawkes, the London Book Fair, Shanghai International Children’s Book Fair to the phenomenon Chinese pianist Yundi Li.

Alicia is involved in the King’s College London mentorship programme and has been invited to give guest lectures on China and arts marketing at Royal Holloway University of London and INSEEC Business School. She is an advisory panel member for Southampton Solent University research and innovation hub.

Singing Grass Communications has a team of PR and digital marketing specialists based in Europe and in China who collectively have two decades of experience in the arts, education and luxury retail sectors.

Liz Murphy

Head of Education Marketing & Advertising

UCAS Media

Liz Murphy has over 20 years strategic marketing experience, ten of which have been spent in higher education with six different universities. Most notably Liz was director of student recruitment and deputy director of marketing at the University of Birmingham for over seven years and has been freelancing for almost three years before joining UCAS Media as head of education marketing & advertising.

Liz says: 'I relish the opportunity to make a difference and bring about positive change. My activities genuinely recruit additional students and I have a proven track record in this area"

Simon Pride

Head of Marketing and Communications

Arts University Bournemouth

Simon Pride joined Arts University Bournemouth in June 2011 as head of marketing and communications after 25 years in advertising.

He began his agency career as a graduate trainee with J Walter thompson and subsequently worked in account management up to MD level at agencies including DDB Needham, Mustoe's, Lintas and euro rscg, in London and Amsterdam.

He describes his current role as "madmen meets academia".

Peter Reader

Director of Marketing and Communications

University of Portsmouth

Peter Reader, currently director of marketing and communications at the University of Portsmouth, is one of the UK’s leading higher education communicators and marketers. Uniquely, he has led professional organisations in the UK, Europe and the Commonwealth, as the founding chair of the UK's Higher Education External Relations Association, as president of the European Universities Public Relations and Information Officers, and as the founding chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities' PR, Marketing and Communications Network.

He has give numerous presentations in the UK, Europe and internationally, and has had a number of articles published in the professional media. As well as marketing strategy, particular professional interests include crisis management and communications, and reputation management.

Jennifer Williams-Baffoe

Business Development Consultant

Willbaforce Ltd Creative Management

Jennifer Williams-Baffoe offers a variety of specialist advice and guidance for business and professional development through her consultancy Willbaforce. Her advice and guidance utilises a variety of modern problem-solving kits to measure past and current practices, accomplishments, abilities and knowledge to help modernise her client's business development plans.

Jennifer recently worked for two years on a creative industries project for the United Nations in Ghana, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Mali; and delivered a speech last year for the Nigerian Tourism Board on creative industries in Nigeria as part of the Tourism Development Workshop 2014.

Currently Jennifer lectures for the University of the Arts London in fashion marketing, manufacturing and managing your own business online and offline and is working with a Nigerian business management consultancy on developing their marketing strategy for an online educational platform and consults for a leading creative university in Ghana on their curriculum.

Jennifer has worked extensively in West Africa and has had experience of working with youth markets; along with her education background she has maintained an interest in how education institutions promote their courses in West Africa.

Liz Wolstenholme

Head of Brand Strategy UK

Weber Shandwick

Liz is a Cannes-Lions winning strategic planner, with 17 year’s experience spanning both advertising and PR. She has been at Weber Shandwick since January 2012 and in that time has led strategic thinking on beacon brands such as Motorola, Aldi, Mastercard, Nespresso and Westfield. Her work spans across all sectors, from corporate and financial to consumer, healthcare, technology and education. She was also the strategic planner for the Cannes Lion-winning EDF Energy Olympic light show on the London Eye. Liz co-created the Sabre award-winning Science of Engagement™ tool and created the IPRA-winning AudienceTalk™ tool, which was successfully applied to Manchester Business School and had a dramatic impact on enrolment rates. Liz also trains Microsoft’s marketing department in integrated communications across EMEA.

Prior to joining Weber Shandwick, Liz was at the advertising agency RKCR/Y&R where she worked on the prestigious Marks and Spencer account, successfully repositioning the entire food arm of the business and Plan A. Whilst on Plan A, Liz launched the Forever Fish initiative and optimised communication around the other key CSR pillars. Liz also worked on the Cannes award-winning Virgin Media and Warburton’s accounts.

Liz was also at WCRS for six years, where she created the highly-successful ‘Styling the Nation’ positioning for Debenhams, which reversed a decline in sales and the transformative relaunch of Littlewoods as well as the brand strategy for BUPA globally.

Whilst at WCRS, Liz also worked extensively for both COI and Transport for London. Her most notable achievements on these accounts include the development of the avian Pandemic Flu campaign, the TFL ‘Test your awareness’ cycling awareness campaign and work on the congestion charge.

Tom Wright

Head of Digital

University of Nottingham

Tom Wright is responsible for the University of Nottingham's digital marketing and communications strategy and manages the digital team in the University’s central external relations department. The team manage and update the university's main social media channels and blogging platform, produce and edit video content, and have also run a number of award-winning digital campaigns in recent years.

Most recently, the team were behind the university's #MeantToBe clearing campaign, which saw the hashtag trending on A level results day, helping the university to go beyond its undergraduate student recruitment target for 2015.

The team’s Fresh Start campaign, aimed at new undergraduate students, picked up two awards for best low budget campaign from the UK Social Media Communications awards and the UK Public Sector Communications awards in 2013.

A project to increase student collaboration and develop more student-generated content for use in marketing and communications collateral, including the setting up of a student video team and development of international social media channels such as Weibo and vkontakte, was shortlisted for the 2014 Thelmas and Heist awards.

Tom is digital and web lead on the Chartered Institute of Marketing higher education sector interest committee and has spoken at a number of national and international conferences in recent years, run by organisations such as the ACU, CIM, and CASE.

Why Attendflying words

How can universities and colleges make themselves distinctive and stand out from the crowd when their products and services are very similar and they are all judged on the same criteria for league tables and in their delivery of teaching and research?

It's a conundrum that taxes us all, from vice-chancellors to those in operational positions, such as marcomms staff who are charged with making their institution as distinctive and successful as possible in an increasingly marketised and crowded market place both at home and abroad.

This event will address as many of these issues as time allows with our exciting line-up of speakers who have been invited to share their expertise and experience on aspects of successful branding.

What, in fact, does successful branding for student recruitment look like? You will have the opportunity to discuss these questions as you can consider your longer-term branding and student recruitment strategies and how the pressures of competition affect your institution's ability to recruit and maintain key performance targets.


Benefits of attending:

  • you will understand the nature of brands in further and higher education and whether there are any aspects specific to branding in an education context;
  • hear from experts in their field about brand-building and the importance of managing the brand long after the signage has been erected;
  • discover how students’ perceptions of brands make an impact on student recruitment;
  • understand the brand journey and how you and all your colleagues make an impact on the success and delivery of the brand promise
  • discover the international perception and relevance of your brand;
  • benefit from the latest thinking and network with colleagues.


Addressing your professional needs

Whatever your role or position in your faculty/school, department/centre, college/university you
will discover how branding works and how you can create a strategy that will help to create competitive advantage for your university.

  • Sessions are designed to provide useful models for successful brand-building;
  • Our expert speakers will advance your knowledge of branding by
    engpantone bookaging with the specific challenges within education.
  • Our afternoon special interest sessions offer you a way of tailoring the day to your specific professional needs/.
  • This is your opportunity for professional development in one of marketing's most important, yet complex, fields.



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