University brand personality: a student-focused anthropomorphic storytelling perspective

Ilse Struweg, Marius Wait

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increasingly, studies address higher education institutions’ brand personalities, as universities communicate specific brand personality attributes in their marketing to build stronger, longer-lasting relationships. This study uses the six dimensions in the university brand personality scale (UBPS) of Rauschnabel, Krey, Babin, and Ivens (2016) to qualitatively explore 34 marketing students’ interpretations of a single university's brand personality, through brand storytelling toward co-creating brand value and differentiation. The transcribed narratives were analysed iteratively through deductively dominant content analysis in two stages. Findings from the anthropomorphic-based stories informed a matrix describing students’ subjective interpretations of their university's brand personality. The study's contribution is three-fold. Theoretically, it distinctively integrates signalling and social identification theory in a brand personality inquiry. Methodologically, this study's unit of analysis–students’ anthropomorphically grounded brand stories–is unique. Practically, it provides university marketers with student-enlivened university brand personality understandings to drive university brand relationships and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Marketing for Higher Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


  • brand personality
  • corporate brand identification theory
  • Higher education branding
  • signalling theory
  • university brand anthropomorphism
  • university brand personality scale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Marketing


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