Power Lunch Recap: Reboot Your Brand Like a Pro

By Katie Soltas, NAMA Blogger | 4.20.16

From a bracket-busting basketball season to the launch of a mandatory networking class, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) has undergone a major rebranding over the past year.

Dr. David Urban, dean of MTSU’s Jennings A. Jones College of Business, delivered an engaging speech to a captivated audience during a recent NAMA Power Luncheon about the university’s rebranding process and ensuing success.

Urban began his presentation by emphasizing the importance of education and illustrated the reasons he chose to dedicate his life to the cause.

But, like all businesses, educational institutions – MTSU’s Jones College included – need to reboot their brand.

“What used to pass in higher education no longer satisfies millennials,” Urban said. “We are adjusting to the new wants of students with more engagement.”

4-15-16 Urban Quote Graphic

He explained how marketing is not just an external function, but must be encompassed by the entire organization internally from top to bottom in order to reach a successful rebranding.

This, he says, is in addition to “walking the talk,” or following through on the university’s promises to students to prepare them for the real world.

Adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, according to Urban, is key to rebranding an organization.

The mindsets, “We’ve always done it this way,” or “We’ve been doing it for so long I don’t know why we do it,” are particularly perilous paths to travel.


On the contrary, starting from scratch by questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking with individuals from diverse backgrounds proved beneficial in the Jones College’s rebranding efforts.

Other roadblocks to effective organizational rebranding projects include a misunderstanding of the need, bureaucratic issues, and misalignment of management processes and outcomes.

To overcome these roadblocks, organizations must focus on the brand truths: what you are, what you deliver, and what you stand for.

In the case of MTSU’s Jones College, the school prides itself on being a “student success business school” with an emphasis on retention, graduation, and post-graduation job placement. Nearly 80 percent of Jones College alumni live in Greater Nashville and contribute to the economy – a testament to the school’s promise, according to Urban.

Reiterating the need for a product that mirrors the brand’s promise, the Jones College this past year added the Dale Carnegie human relations seminar that prepares students for the real world by teaching them networking and other applicable skills to market their individual brands.

4-15-16 AIDI Graphic

The course is now a graduation requirement, and so far has received an overwhelmingly positive response from students, who reported takeaways of real-world applicability, increased confidence, improved self-evaluation, increased accountability, and enthusiasm.

Marketing the new brand to an external audience falls on the basic advertising acronym and principle we all learned at our own alma maters: AIDA – creating attention, interest, desire, and action in all of our campaigns.

Last, but not least, Urban underscored the need for brand advocates, or ambassadors, to be drivers and change agents for the organization.


NAMA will host its next Power Lunch on May 5. Click here for details and to register.