Branding, in terms of marketing, is a popular practice among individuals and businesses in today’s media environment. While reading an article about cultural stereotypes held by Americans about the British culture, I began thinking about how media is used to brand much more than just products and businesses, but entire countries and cultures.
TV shows, movies, and celebrities are all modern examples through which media portrays various cultures. In an article by Dominic Janes, a lecturer at the University of London, he cites that many internationals associate the class system with the British. Perhaps this is because Britain’s royal family is often a topic in the media and popular culture.
In my own experience and in my peers, I have noticed that Americans associate the following with London, Britain, and its people: tea time, politeness, wealth, royalty, sarcasm, The Beatles, boy bands, and accents. It makes sense that people around the world relate these subjects with Great Britain because the country itself is often portrayed in the media with strong relations to these ideas.
For example, on the talk show Ellen, hosted by American talk show host, there is a segment called “Tea Time with Sophia Grace and Rosie”. The segment is hosted by two British girls Ellen discovered on YouTube. The popular idea that the British love tea is supported by this popular talk show broadcasting the tea time segment. For decades, The Beatles has been somewhat of a representative group for the country. Today, international pop sensation One Direction, a British boy band, has been the latest media export from England.
There are many examples in the media where these stereotypes are continuously enforced, and Janes suggests in his article that we should “engage [students] in discussion about brand values” (Janes 67). According to Janes, by approaching cultural views and international education with a marketing perspective, students might find it easier to gain cultural knowledge. I agree with Janes’ theory, because I think that it can affect students in the same memorable way that brands like Levi’s or Coca Cola do. Janes suggests that students are more engaged when they are inspired to explore on their own rather than be told what to learn.
This concept applied to international education can be very useful. In another article from Frontiers Journal, the Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Gary Rhodes discusses the Internet and its uses for the field of study abroad. The Internet benefits study abroad in several ways according to Rhodes.
- It allows administrators around the world to communicate much quicker and for less cost.
- It allows for quick updates on program information online.
- It helps the Higher Education community develop by allowing interactive online communications.
By combining Janes and Rhodes concepts, I believe that branding international education using social media will benefit the field itself. In many ways, it is already happening. Students like myself who go abroad and have positive experiences, post and share their experiences online, thus advocating for the field.
The study abroad brand, in my opinion, is a positive one. In 1999, when MTV show Road Rules portrayed students’ experience on a reality show, the audience certainly did not get an academically centered perspective on study abroad. It became a common misconception that studying abroad was just a semester-long party in another country. However, with globalization being such a predominant idea in today’s world, studying abroad has become an opportunity for personal, professional, and academic development.
I think it is important that students and other members of the international education field continue to brand study abroad as an academic experience that helps students develop as young professionals and as people. By using Janes’ pedagogic approach and Rhodes’ methods to develop the field, branding international education and study abroad would be a combined effort resulting in what could be the study abroad brand.
Janes, D. (2011). Beyond ignorance: using the cultural stereotypes of Americans studying in the UK as a resource for learning and teaching about British culture. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, Vol. 48 (61-68).
Rhodes, G. M. (1995). The Internet and World Wide Web: Uses for Study Abroad. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, Vol. 1. Retrieved from http://www.frontiersjournal.com/issues/vol1/vol1-06_Rhodes.htm