Skip to content

Does “Branding” Equal “Competitive”?

Interesting piece just posted in the WSJ about Wharton’s new branding effort.  I left the following comment.

As long as I have studied business schools I think that Wharton has certainly been associated with high quantitative rigor and certainly “knowledge.” It’s deep investment in the “Knowledge at Wharton” franchise certainly went a long way toward helping the school more directly associate with that infinitely large and diffuse idea. In this sense, the “re-branding” effort is a sensible attempt to draw an even closer association with the idea in the mind of the marketplace. What remains to be seen in all of management education is whether these kinds of efforts ultimately matter. Not because “branding” is a superficial exercise–it most certainly isn’t, but the deeper question is: Does this or that approach actually give the institution a competitive advantage? Has it changed its product or experience in ways that reflect real differentiated value creation for its stakeholders? Is it keeping up with the massive disruption going on in education through technology? (and about 20 more core related questions). There is a lot of discussion of “competition” in this piece. It seems obvious that all of management education is facing a lot more competition than just comparing themselves against a few top schools. Competition is coming to business schools from a lot more directions than just the “traditional top.” It will be interesting to see the results of this campaign in truly generating competitive advantage for this already strong “brand.”