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School of Business | Department of Communication | Finnish Business Communication | 2014
Thesis number: 13563
The role of corporate identity in university branding: Case Aalto University School of Business
Author: Tähtinen, Eeva
Title: The role of corporate identity in university branding: Case Aalto University School of Business
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Communication
Academic subject: Finnish Business Communication
Index terms: viestintä; communication; yritysviestintä; business communication; yliopistot; universities; organisaatio; organization; identiteetti; identity; Aalto-yliopisto; Aalto University; brandit; brands
Pages: 82
Full text:
» hse_ethesis_13563.pdf pdf  size:869 KB (888861)
Key terms: universities; Aalto University; Aalto University School of Business; corporate communication; corporate identity; corporate brand; discourse

The aim of the thesis is to study the role of corporate identity and corporate brand in universities. To differentiate in the growing international competition, universities have recently adopted business-like models of operation, including strategic planning, stakeholder-centered thinking and communicating a unique identity and brand. The objective of the thesis is to study how the case university presents its corporate identity in the external communications targeted at prospective students and prospective academic staff.

Data and methods:

The thesis is conducted as a qualitative case study looking into the presented identity and brand of a single Finnish higher education institution, Aalto University School of Business (formerly Helsinki School of Economics) in 2006 and 2013. The data consists of strategy texts, brochures and website presentations that are purposefully used to promote the case university in the eyes of the key stakeholders. The documents are approached in discursive terms, where the objective is to find out on which discourses the ideal identity is built, and how these discourses reflect the overall change and commercialization of universities.


The results of the thesis support the understanding that universities need to struggle between various demands. The findings indicate that universities are not only expected to be conductors of higher research and educators of future professionals but also long-term partners of businesses, societal contributors and international centers of innovation, and they constantly need to seek for a balance between a set of expectations. To keep up with the competition, universities have moved towards business-like ideals, and they strive to differentiate by communicating a strong corporate identity. In its public presentation, the case university emphasizes quality, international competitiveness, patnerships, societal contribution and interplay between tradition and future innovativeness.
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