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Brand and communications survey: Summary of responses


In August 2017, we ran a knowledge-gathering survey to find out more about how HE providers use surveys in their current promotional activities, and their requirements for Graduate Outcomes.

We received 122 responses; we’re very grateful for everyone who took the time to input. This page provides a summary of the feedback we received and the actions we're taking in response to the survey.

Survey responses


We asked providers what experience they had promoting surveys.

Chart 1 - Which of the following have you been involved in promoting?

The vast majority of respondents had experience promoting the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education survey. A significant proportion also had experience promoting the National Student Survey (NSS) and other engagement projects and surveys within their providers.

Chart 2 - Which of the following have you found effective in securing engagement?

Respondents suggested that emails were the most effective means of securing engagement. Emails from a familiar contact (an academic or tutor) or from central professional services were cited as the most effective. No social media channel had more than ten respondents rating it as ‘very effective’, though Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn were rated ‘effective’ by significant numbers. Many respondents had not used social media at all in promotion.

In the free text responses to this question, respondents flagged up the following additional means of ensuring engagement (number of respondents raising the issue indicated in brackets):

  • Face to face promotion (19)
  • Phone calls (7)
  • Offering incentives (6)
  • Promotion on Intranet/VLE webpages (5)
  • Emails from student societies (4)
  • Promotion on graduation days (4)
  • Text messages (3)
  • Template text for staff in Schools to use (3)
  • Postcard / other mailshot (3)
  • Digital screensavers, plasma screens (2)
  • Paid for adverts (on Facebook or in job hunting guides) (2)
  • Alumni e-newsletter (2).

Free text comments raised several issues around securing engagement, including:

  • Difficulty of measuring effectiveness of activities (5)
  • Students respond best to a name that is familiar to them (4)
  • Emails have to be targeted (2)
  • Text messages are no longer effective (1)
  • Promotional merchandise has proved ineffective (1)
  • Frequent messaging is key (1)
  • Competition among schools helps enhance response rates (1).


We wanted to learn from providers the extent to which they wanted resources to be co-brandable.

Chart 3 - Which of the following approaches to producing materials would you find useful (select all that apply)?

Chart 4 - Which of the following approaches to producing materials would you find most useful?

When asked what type of resources would prove most useful, the vast majority of providers opted for template files with editable regions. However, it is clear from both charts that all three types of resource would be valuable to the sector. This reflects the diversity of student bodies and types of providers.

Chart 5 - How important is it to you to be able to include the following in promotional materials?

Responses show that the ability to add a provider’s logo to promotional materials is most important, although other elements – especially the facility to add custom text – had high levels of support.

In the free text responses to this question, respondents stressed how vital the ability to effectively co-brand materials is. Respondents also acknowledged the difficulties that arise around this (with very different sizes for logos, and some providers requiring two or more logos to be displayed).

Respondents also specified other aspects of their brand that they would like to use in materials, including:

  • Contact details (7)
  • Provider-specific imagery (6)
  • Graduate quotes/testimonials (4)
  • Previous statistics from the survey (2)
  • Web links (2).

Promotional templates

We wanted to find out from providers which types of promotional templates they would find valuable.

Chart 6 - Which of the following promotional materials would you find useful (tick all that apply)?

Chart 7 - Which of the following promotional materials would you find most useful?

In the forced choice question, there was a clear preference for digital – rather than print – materials. An email/newsletter template was seen by providers to be the most valuable resource (although one respondent said html newsletters do not get high levels of engagement).

Other resources that providers would find valuable included:

  • Templates for plasma screens
  • Template html to embed on web pages
  • Gifs and memes
  • Postcards
  • Roll-up banner template.

Any other comments

We gave providers the ability to raise other comments at the end of the survey.

Respondents stressed the value that video and infographic content would provide. They also suggested that where we use text in promotional materials, this should be kept short and to the point.

Other comments raised consistently included the:

  • Need to have the logo available as soon as possible
  • Value of consulting with students
  • Uncertainty over whether the experience from the 6-month DLHE would also work for the 15-month survey period
  • Necessity of effective survey software
  • Requirement to have variety in the templates available
  • Importance of knowing what central promotion is being done by the survey contractor to align messages (and the need to be able to access lists of non-respondents).

One respondent also mentioned the fact that Graduate Outcomes is already being abbreviated to G. O. – and we shouldn’t fight it (n.b. we're still going to fight it).

Actions in response to your feedback

As a result of all of your feedback, we have brought together a specification that will feed into the development of the brand identity. This specification is based around the following key requirements that were apparent from your responses:

  • The vital importance of being able to co-brand the survey (including adding provider logos and custom text)
  • The need for diversity and flexibility in the types of materials available.

The specification is also informed by the providers' past experience and what they have found to be effective:

  • Emails encourage the strongest levels of engagement with surveys
  • Digital resources have proved more engaging than print materials.

Our primary aim is to create a brand that encourages graduates to complete the survey. But the brand identity and materials must also empower providers to be able to promote the survey locally in an efficient and effective manner. This means that the brand identity and the materials must be flexible enough to work across providers of different sizes, student bodies, course provision, and technological competencies.

We are aiming to have a logo and a limited range of promotional materials in place by December 2017. We will then hand the brand over to the survey contractor who will maintain it and provide further support materials.