Date of Award

Spring 2023

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Communication Studies BS


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Fei Xue, Ph.D

Advisor Department

Communication Studies


With enrollment rates expected to surge over the next decade, the competition

between institutions of higher learning will also increase. Because of this, marketing

material produced by all institutions will need to adjust to become more effective at

establishing brand identity to attract the attention of prospective students. Using Aaker’s

brand identity model as a framework to understand branding methods, this research aims

to identify marketing communication strategies that are more effective in a prospective

student’s decision-making process. The thesis also investigates prospective students’

recall and perception of marketing material produced by USM to determine its overall

effectiveness and differences in responses based on region.

An online survey was distributed to current USM students to learn about their

individual experience with USM’s marketing materials prior to admission and how

effective they were in influencing the student during their college decision process.

Results show that most of the current marketing efforts produced by USM have relatively

high recall rates; however, participants report better recall for more personalized

methods. In addition, Aaker’s product and organization scopes appear to have the highest

average scores out of the four. Finally, the data shows that marketing materials that

highlight certain scopes perform better in some regions than others.