UW-Madison tops Internet brand rankings

Jan. 4, 2011

by John Lucas

The University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked first among U.S. colleges and universities in a new study examining higher education "brand equity" on the Internet.

The TrendTopper MediaBuzz Internet analysis was conducted by Austin, Texas-based Global Language Monitor and studied 300 institutions. The rankings were compiled using a mathematical model to measure how often colleges and universities appear in the global electronic media, on the Internet, in the blogosphere and across social-networking sites.

UW-Madison ranked first, with the University of Chicago, Harvard University, MIT and Columbia University rounding out the top five.

The ranking reflects broad success in academic reputation, research, alumni affairs, global influence, electronic media relations and social media, says Paul J.J. Payack, president and chief word analyst at GLM.

The measurement was conducted in the final week of December 2010, with the same period in 2009 used as a benchmark. Although it would seem logical that the excitement around the recent Rose Bowl run would have tipped the rankings, Payack says he corrected for football and it was not a factor.

"We look at colleges as parents or employers might view them: as brands," he says. "Why would you buy a new Lexus instead of a old Ford? What has more value to you?

"The 'flight to quality' continues unabated," he adds. "The savvy consumer of the education marketplace appears centered on the price-sensitive 'public ivies' and technology-centered schools."

Vince Sweeney, UW-Madison vice chancellor for university relations, says the distinction caps an extremely successful 2010 for the university — its outreach and communication arms in particular.

"This ranking is a credit to students, faculty, staff and alumni who spread our message through the Internet," he says. "The reputation and economy of our state will grow as a result of all of our efforts."

In particular, Sweeney pointed to several Internet and technology innovations from the Office of University Relations in 2010, including a redesigned wisc.edu home page, a new brand and visual identity system, an expanded presence and public relations push in China, a campus iPhone app and a rapidly growing presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

For more details on the study, visit http://www.languagemonitor.com/.

For more about the Office of University Relations at UW-Madison, visit http://universityrelations.wisc.edu/.