Brand Identity, Meaning, Image, and Reputation in Higher Education, Special issue of Journal of Business Research; Deadline 15 Jan 2015

BIMIR-HECall for Papers:

Brand Identity, Meaning, Image, and Reputation in Higher Education

A Journal of Business Research Special Issue

Paper submission deadline:  15 January 2015

Universities today are increasingly competing for international students in response to trends in global student mobility, diminishing university funding, and government-backed recruitment campaigns. This competition drives the need for universities to focus on clearly articulating and developing their brand (Hemsley-Brown & Goonawardana, 2007). Higher education sector has much to gain from the benefits of successful branding, which is already well established in the private sector, but more research is needed that specifically relates to the branding efforts of public sector organisations, such as non-profit colleges and universities (Watkins & Gonzenbach, 2013). Brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation are becoming increasingly important, as both organisations and managers are eager to develop distinctive identities, understand multiple meanings held by stakeholders, improve images, and enhance reputation in this highly competitive global environment.


Researchers are exploring the associations between branding and performance in order to improve employee commitment, reduce staff turnover,and increase productivity(Robertson & Khatibi, 2013). While prior studies examine diverse factors pertinent to the efficacy of branding, the majority of these studies adopt business sectors and industries as research samples, leading to more commercial –profits and performance-orientedimplications(Harris & De Chernatony, 2001; Hankinson, 2012; Hsiao & Chen, 2013). On the whole, the findings from these studies seldom have much relevance and application in the higher education sector, such as the management of faculties, universities, and colleges. However, there is considerable debate and uncertainty about how to respond to competition and how to capitalise on the opportunities globalisation offers. Therefore, it is very timely to seek to publish articles, which critically engage with theoretical and empirical issues of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation drawn from as wide a range of perspectives as possible in the context of higher education in an international context.


The diversity of the higher education sector provides a perplexing environment to the development and management of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation. Differing organisational cultures, development stages, resources, politics, and student profiles require multiple strategic directions, emphasising different issues in different faculties and institutions (Asaad, Melewar, Cohen,& Balmer, 2013). Due to these complexities, we view the study of the relationship between brand identity, meaning, image, and reputationin the higher education sector to be critical topics for further investigation.To date, there are insufficient empirical studies to support understanding of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation in a comprehensive higher educational discourse(Chapleo, 2011).


Much remainsunknown about how brand identity is perceived in the higher education sector; how a higher education brand manages multiple meanings, which may differ among stakeholder groups, how all these concepts inter-relate, and how institutions build and re-build strong brand identities. Existing studies primarily focus on models explaining existing concepts from managerial and business perspectives, which are insufficient and often not pertinent in this not-for-profit context. By understanding how higher education universities, colleges, and departments create desirable brands, universities can attract world-class faculty, sponsorship, and high quality students, leading to improved public image and goodwill (Melewar & Akel, 2005). For brand managers in higher education, a greater understanding of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation influence key strategic decisions and contribute towards efficient use of marketing resources, cost-saving, and increased income from multiple sources.


The BIMIR-HE Guest Editors invite papers with an original perspective and advanced thinking linked to branding, image, and identity research on issues related to, but not limited to the following research topics: 

·                     Role of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation in sustaining universities and colleges in the higher education sector

·                     The management, marketing, and branding practices in higher education at both student and management levels

·                     Use of new technologies in implementing brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation strategies

·                     International and cross-cultural studies of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation

·                     Internal marketing and branding perspectives in higher education

·                     Linking student behaviour and consumption with brand identity within the higher education context

·                     Case studies of higher education brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation

·                     Conceptual papers developing new branding concepts in higher education

·                     International branding research in higher education

·                     Effect of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation strategy on competitiveness for sustainability

·                     Comparisons of brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation, including between and across institutional types, sectors, and countries

·                     Development of framework, models, and theories exploring linkages between brand identity, meaning, image, and reputation in higher education

·                     Ethical brand reputation management in higher education.


All manuscripts should apply the general author guidelines ( for the Journal of Business Research (JBR). Manuscripts should not have been previously published or be under consideration by other journals. Please submit your paper electronically to all four of the JBR Special Issue Editors: Jane Hemsley-Brown,; TC Melewar,; Bang Nguyen,; Elizabeth J Wilson,




Asaad, Y., Melewar, T.C., Cohen, G.,& Balmer, J. (2013).Universities and export market orientation: an exploratory study of UK post-92 universities. Marketing Intelligence & Planning, 31, 838-856.

Chapleo, C. (2011). Branding a university: adding real value or smoke and mirrors? In Molesworth & R. Scullion (Eds.), In The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer (pp. 101-114), M.London: Routledge.

Hankinson, G. (2012). The measurement of brand orientation, its performance impact, and the role of leadership in the context of destination branding: an exploratory study. Journal of Marketing Management, 28, 974-999.

Harris, F.,& De Chernatony, L. (2001). Corporate branding and corporate performance. European Journal of Marketing, 35, 441-456.

Hemsley-Brown, J.,&Goonawardana, S. (2007). Brand harmonization in the international higher education market. Journal of Business Research, 60, 942-948.

Hsiao, Y.C.,& Chen, C.J. (2013). Branding vs contract manufacturing: capability, strategy, and performance. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 28, 317-334.


Melewar, T.C.,& Akel, S (2005). Corporate identity in the higher education sector: a case study.Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 10, 41-27.


Robertson, A.,& Khatibi, A. (2013). The influence of employer branding on productivity-related outcomes of an organization. IUP Journal of Brand Management, 10, 17-32.

Watkins, B.A.,& Gonzenbach, W.J. (2013). Assessing university brand personality through logos: an analysis of the use of academics and athletics in university branding. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 23, 15-33.


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