What Education Brands Can Learn from Fashion Brands

What Education Brands Can Learn from Fashion Brands

I’m a big fan of Glossy. Have you heard of it? Our CEO wrote an article earlier this summer on must-read publications for EDU marketers, and Glossy made the list. Their daily newsletter shares quick updates on big things happening in fashion technology, giving readers a glimpse into stories from some of the most loved brands in the world.

So where am I going with this? What do education brands and fashion brands have in common? It might be surprising, but education has a lot to learn from fashion brands. Why, you ask?

  • Behind-the-scenes fashion publication Coveteur has 1.1 million Instagram followers.
  • Popular online retailer Modcloth has 1.5 million Facebook likes.
  • Kylie Jenner has 30 million Snapchat followers… and higher ed is just getting around to using the platform.

Higher education is a competitive marketplace—just like the world of  fashion. Brands that win are bold, embracing their point of view and brand personality to build connections with their followers. Keep reading for examples of what fashion brands do really well that I believe education brands can use to evolve their positioning, stay competitive and get results.

Listen to consumers and don’t hesitate to adapt.

Fashion brands are unafraid to ask for feedback and pivot accordingly. They stay ahead of the curve when it comes to consumer behavior, and they act on their findings. OVS, an Italian clothing retailer, saw an opportunity to enhance the digital shopping experience for its customers. They used Google Enterprise to develop a cutting-edge technology allowing a multi-sensory experience both in-store and online.

Digital natives are one of the most talked about generations in history. Research from Measuring the Information Society, an annual report on information and communication technologies, shows that digital natives consume information differently than any other generation:

“They [digital natives] are characterized as being impatient with slower, systematic means of acquiring information and knowledge, and expect instant response and gratification or rewards from technologies they use.”

Excerpt from Chapter 4 of Measuring the Information Society (2013).

Hats off to Columbia College Chicago Online who is leading the education industry into a new era with a retail course model designed for the next generation of students.

Create digital experiences that feel good.

Fashion brands are pros at designing digital experiences that feel personal and real. They invest precious dollars, time and resources into curating the perfect customer experience. I mentioned Coveteur earlier, they recently announced Coveteur Creative, an in-house content studio testing innovative campaigns to connect with their followers. 

What EDU Brands Can Learn from Fashion Brands

Georgia State University put some thought into the ideal digital user experience and magic happened. They designed an admitted student app that reduced summer melt by 21.4% and generated a 3.9% increase in enrollment

Embrace your personality and point of view.

Cause marketing is a beautiful thing that fashion brands embrace head on. Amazon is exploring opportunities to get into editorial and craft a point of view for their brand. H&M used Instagram to generate buzz and build momentum for its latest sub-brand before it even hit stores. This excerpt from the aforementioned H&M article perfectly summarizes the evolving function of social media in cultivating brand loyalty:  

“The influence and reach of Instagram and other social channels has prompted a shift in how brands see social, from pure brand awareness to channels that can also be used for commerce,” he said. “Smart brands will increasingly use social media to introduce their followers to products they never knew existed, as well as to tell a broader narrative about the brand.”

Most education brands have social media accounts, but few venture outside of fail-safe content like program spotlights, student life, athletics promos and campus beauty shots. Grinnell College is among the bold few to stand out with a unique brand personality. Their tone is direct with a bit of dark humor that resonates with Grinnellians (their community). They’re unafraid to be bold and true to their brand, and that’s pretty impressive.

Building brand loyalty in education.

If education brands want to hit the 1M follower mark, there are many things to be learned from other industriesespecially fashion and retail. These brands have loyal followers and social media advocates in spades.

What brand loyalty initiatives are you implementing to engage your audiences? Have feedback on any of the ideas referenced in this post? Tweet me @megancendrowski. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of education brands and how colleges and universities can take inspiration from other verticals to standout in a crowded marketplace.


Megan Bys
Megan Bys
August 15, 2017