1st place in "Brand Management" category

Erfurt, 24 August 2022. IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) was honored with the Brand Award 2022 for its outstanding brand management. For more than 20 years, absatzwirtschaft, Germany's highest-circulation monthly magazine for marketing, and the German Marketing Association have presented the Brand Award (Marken-Award). The competition honors innovative brands and clever marketing strategies. This year, the focus was on sustainability and social responsibility.

IU's success story, with its mission to give as many people as possible access to education, won over the high-caliber jury of experts from management, marketing, media and agencies. Also nominated in the "Brand Management" category were RTL Deutschland and E wie einfach. IU ultimately prevailed with its standout, customer-centric strategy with demonstrable success.

"After receiving the German Brand Award 2021 in the category "Brand Efficiency of the Year", we are honored once again to receive the Marken-Award 2022. Thus, we were able to assert ourselves as a newcomer in the environment of strong established brands at the two most important brand awards in Germany with our brand design, brand management and, above all, the results achieved with it," says Nina Versfeld, Head of Brand at IU International University of Applied Sciences. 

In the jury's statement, there was praise from all sides: "Totally superbly crafted and implemented with so much heart and soul. A unique combination of performance marketing and excellent brand management," stated the German Marketing Association at the awards ceremony.

IU’s success story

As of March 2021, IU International University of Applied Sciences is Germany's largest university, with a market share of 68 percent. A key success factor for this was the new brand strategy launched in 2019. Up until that point, branding had not played a role at IU. Despite its enormous growth of 490 percent within four years, awareness was only 0.15 percent. 

Thus, the former IUBH became IU International University of Applied Sciences. Within two years, its brand awareness increased by ten percent and the monthly user numbers doubled. 

Nina Versfeld is proud of this development: "A large number of KPIs prove the success of IU and thus the success of our holistic, brand-driven transformation. In May 2021, for example, our brand awareness rose once again from 10.8 percent to 19.6 percent within one month - and the trend is still upward."

Brand management is a continuous process. IU attaches great importance to sustainably combining its customer-centric and personalized educational offering with a strong recognition value and positive brand image. 

"We are happy if we can inspire other companies and decision-makers with our success story to more social responsibility and brand thinking that always keeps the customer in focus. A strong brand always means a promise of quality. Customers and partners rely on it, and we must and want to be measured against it. Only in this way can we offer the best version of what we have to offer and encourage both our students and our employees to become the best version of themselves," says Nina Versfeld.

In addition to a clear brand identity, however, it also requires first-class service that is available across all touchpoints. "This is the crucial basis for meeting our students' needs for self-realization, flexibility and support, and for sustainably differentiating ourselves from our competitors with our values, offerings and innovations."

Significantly involved in the rebranding process of IU were GMK Markenberatung as well as psbrands GmbH.

On August 23, 2022, the Marken-Award 2022 was presented at a gala in Düsseldorf. The live event was hosted by Chérine De Bruijn and attended by 120 invited guests and a further thousand viewers via livestream. Further information on the Marken-Award can be found at: www.marken-award.de .

3 questions for Nina Versfeld, Head of Brand at IU:

Why is brand marketing or a strong brand so important for companies?

"A strong brand creates trust, identity and a recognition value. It positions emotionally, for example through a sense of belonging, differentiates from competitors and conveys guiding ideas, values and corporate philosophy. That's why a stringent brand with high recognition value is also essential for the necessary attention both in the highly competitive target groups and for sustainable corporate success."

Your 3 tips for successful brand building?

1. Focus on a strong brand core, a central idea and brand codes that positively convey the company values.

2. Homogenize the brand identity along the entire customer journey with strong, recognizable and emotional brand codes (in IU’s case such as the frame, neon colors, customer focus, bold headlines).

3. An agile team that is willing to constantly evolve, collaborate across disciplines, develop and represent the brand and make it tangible both internally and externally.

The 3 biggest hurdles in brand building?

"It is important to establish an internal understanding of the potential of a strong brand, especially in decentralized corporate structures like ours at IU. A brand is carried and transported by all of us, which is why a stringent brand presence and emotional identification across all areas of the company is so significant. Each and every one of us is important and relevant in strengthening our brand and thus making our customers happy and contributing to our long-term success. 

At the same time, a brand must constantly be put to the test and adapt to changing customer needs and trends in order to remain ‘state of the art’. 

As we continue to develop our brand, we must also adapt it to a certain extent in terms of regional preferences, without losing our values or identity, in order to ensure constant corporate success."


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Nina Versfeld, Head of Brand at IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) - Download Portrait



With over 85,000 students, IU International University of Applied Sciences (IU) is the largest university in Germany. The private, state-recognised higher education institution offers more than 200 bachelor's and master's degree programmes under its roof, available in German or English. Students can shape their studies their way through the help of a digitally supported learning environment with various study models, such as dual study, distance learning and myStudies – which combines online and on-campus studies. In addition, IU facilitates continuing education and promotes the idea of lifelong learning. In alignment with the university’s mission, it aims to provide access to personalised education to as many people worldwide as possible. IU began operations in 2000 and is now represented in 28 German cities. It cooperates with over 10,000 companies and actively supports them in employee development. Its partners include Deutsche Bahn, Motel One, Telekom, Vodafone und VW Financial Services. Further information at: www.iu.org