A brand is more than just a logo or a slogan

  • Strictly Business
Brand is an individual’s perception. A gut feeling that one gets when they see or hear the name of the institution or product or service. It is an experience that one can anticipate even before using the product or service. It goes beyond just a logo

May 7, 2018-Starting out his career as a Physics instructor and a programme manager at a higher secondary school, Ashish Sigdel decided to throw caution to the wind by switching gears and becoming a business development manager instead. Starting out with Islington College and Innovate Nepal Group (ING) subsequently, Sigdel today presides over a team that is spread out over five different colleges; specialising on increasing the brand portfolio of the respective colleges. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, he talks about the importance of brand management in the education sector and shares some of his top branding tips. Excerpts:

As a physics graduate, how challenging was it for you to switch your career to business development?

To my relief, the work culture, ethics and modus operandi where I work was easy to adapt to. Four years ago, I was working with half a dozen team members at one college and I now lead a team of over two dozen bright minds spread over five different colleges. The journey has been exciting and I consider myself fortunate to work with such talented, inspiring, and enthusiastic seniors and colleagues.

You have been involved in the education sector for a while. How important is it for colleges and universities to maintain their brand name?

Needless to say maintaining your brand is very important in any sector. I believe that brand is the trust that people have accrued on a product or service. In the education sector, the name of the institution gets attached to the students’ life and influences their career path. Job recruiters look at the candidates’ alma mater to decide how deep their knowledge and skills related to the job are. For instance, at Islington College, our students do not just graduate with a diploma. They become Islington Alumni; that in itself has become a brand.

In addition, this applies to the people working in the institution as well. An institution with higher brand value gets high performing professionals and vice versa. In short, a brand name not only represents a product or a service but the experience as well.

What are some of the strategies you use to increase the brand portfolio of Islington College?

Here, I must mention Innovate Nepal Group (ING), which is the key stakeholder of Islington College and four other colleges in eastern and western Nepal. All of these institutions run similar programmes in IT and Business in partnership with UK Universities. We make sure that we communicate clearly what a student can expect from a particular college and its courses. I personally don’t believe in exclusively promoting features or facilities only. I rather believe in educating the target group about the advantages and most importantly the benefits of choosing to join our course and college. Our campaigns don’t dwell on fantasies, rather project the reality of our services. We have strict policies on how to promote each of our courses and colleges so that the prospective student and guardians are not confused. So as to maintain and increase the brand portfolio, our team focuses on maintaining the satisfaction level of our students, staff, industry partners and guardians. Respect, trust, security, healthy environment, career growth, pay and perks are the major factors that our ING Colleges try to foster.

Islington College is known for offering great facilities to its students, how do you ensure that students at the end of the day benefit from the education they receive?

At Islington College, we provide a platform where students are given the freedom to materialise their ideas into reality. We encourage our students to transform the acquired knowledge into skills. Knowledge and skills play a vital role for a successful career growth. We provide a specific platform for our students where they can practice what they have learnt. We have been in the process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating and meeting what the industry demands and designing our curriculum and teaching-learning system accordingly.

The updated courses and curriculum we offer has been helping our students develop ideas that benefit the individual and the society at large.

What are some of your top branding tips?

As I have mentioned earlier, brand is not just a logo or a name or a slogan. Brand is an individual’s perception. A gut feeling that one gets when they see or hear the name of the institution or product or service. It is an experience that one can anticipate even before using the product or service. This comes from differentiating the product in the market, focus on the services and experience that the consumer receives and innovation in development and branding exercises.

What can be done to attract more students towards business schools?

In order to attract more students, we need to empower our existing students by practicing positive reinforcement and allowing them to explore their creativity. In addition, not only should we focus on students’ satisfaction, but equally prioritise staff retention, satisfaction and career growth. At Islington,  for instance, our promotional activities are not just aimed towards student recruitment, rather we also focus on attracting best minds available in the market to join us, so that our students receive the best education. We provide them with ample resources to discuss and convert their ideas into action.

What advice do you have for fresh graduates who want to pursue a degree in IT and Business?

I am a Physics graduate. Majority of my professional life, I’ve worked with a marker and a board. However, when I decided to switch to marketing, leaving behind all other possibilities, all I had in me was the eagerness to learn, experiment and the determination not to fail. The world needs a lot of IT and Business professionals and so does Nepal. Anyone who wishes to get into IT or Business education should keep in mind—a degree isn’t just enough to ensure a good professional life; you need skills to complement the knowledge and most importantly you need a learning attitude. In addition, focus on one’s goals and the dedication to meet them are important. Choose the institution that caters to your career goals. It is very important which brand you associate yourself with.

Published: 07-05-2018 20:54

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