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How to Build a Solid RTO Brand Reputation

June 24, 2018

Ever thought about doing something… different?

Like dyeing your hair blue? Or maybe getting the whimsical shirt that caught your eye on the weekend?

Did the consequences of how people might perceive you differently influence your decision to make that move?

Change is hard, but it’s necessary for growth. And just like how our hairstyles may reflect our love for Katy Perry, so do the marketing choices that RTOs make influence the beliefs and values perceived by their market.

A good brand reputation builds confidence in your product, increasing the likelihood that other students will gravitate towards your RTO. It’s just like that popular kid at school—everyone wanted to be their friend and let their friendship be known.

Do students feel a sense of pride when they tell their friends and relatives that they study at your institution?


The very first impression of any brand is obtained through visuals—people see your website, an email, advertisements, or anything else symbolising your RTO’s identity.

Then an assumption is made.

Consistency across visuals is key here. For example, a student researched to find the best organisation to study at, then visited your website and made an enquiry. However, when they received an email from you it featured a logo different to the one on your website. Now their cognitive perception of your RTO’s overall image has been disrupted.

Even this tiny differentiation is enough to diminish the recognition of your RTO’s professionalism and strength of character.

Feel the Love

Feelings are generally experienced at a pre-cognitive level (Zajonc, 1984). Once a brand reputation has been constructed in the mind of the consumer, they have developed an expectation of how your organisation should look, sound, and make them feel—all the time.

Consistency must be maintained if your brand’s reputation is to remain positioned highly in the mind of the consumer.

Find your Voice

Your brand voice is the words on your website and sales materials, your marketing campaigns, and customer service language. Just as visual consistency is paramount, so is the voice you give your RTO.

Warren Buffet once stated,

“It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.”  


The key to branding metamorphosis is altering raw consumer sensations, which changes their perceptions and leads to a change in behaviour (a.k.a, more students).

Weber’s Law is defined as the amount of change necessary to be noticed according to the intensity of the original stimulus. So, the stronger the initial stimulus, the greater a change must be for it to be noticed.  

If your organisation has been around for a while, it might be time to shake up your branding to reel in some new learners.

Retail Cannibalism

Prior to 2011, Kmart profits were plummeting. Then Guy Russo stepped in, introducing a campaign based on changing to everyday low prices, a better product range, and major store remodelling.

These small changes had a massive influence on the emotions and perceptions of Kmart’s market. The funny thing is, it also had an unintentional negative effect on their competitor: Big W.

After one year, significant results were seen at the micro-level: changed consumer beliefs, emotions, and intentions. Kmart also boomed at the macro level: market share, sales, and profitability.

Drastic changes created outstanding long-lasting results in the minds of Kmarts’ consumers—and it’s not too late for you do the same. Shake things up, grab that bottle of blue hair dye, and get on with rebranding!

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