Azman Hashim International Business School (AHIBS), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has grown stronger as a brand since its inception in 1997. Firstly began as a Center of Excellence offering Cranfield MBA, IBS (as it was formerly known) has progressed to offer other postgraduate and undergraduate academic programs.
July 2017 marked another milestone when AHIBS synergised with the management and information system departments in UTM Johor Bahru, hence strengthening AHIBS geographical presence and diverse expertise. Today, AHIBS contributes to global prestige as UTM is ranked #1 in the subject of ‘Business and Economics’ in Malaysia (THE 2020).
Branding strategy at AHIBS is used to promote the School’s industry linkages, global presence, societal well-being, bold and entrepreneurial, and recently added, ASEAN business and knowledge hub. Various initiatives are pursued to project this image including hosting high-impact events, engaging digital strategy, innovative marketing and promotional activities, as well as physical branding.
The AHIBS Industry Panel (IAP), AHIBS Advisory Council (AAC), and Board of Studies (BOS) programs are the main agenda at AHIBS which have involved corporate representatives from more than 40 companies. The AAC program has successfully brought together the leading corporate figures, chaired by Tan Sri Azman Hashim. AAC, IAP, BOS and the appointment of adjunct professors have helped strengthening AHIBS name in the industry.
The brand reaches further heights through its partnership with McDonald’s Malaysia that opens enrolment opportunities to 14,000 McDonald’s employees into AHIBS MBA. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) event has received extensive coverage. It was featured by 17 news platforms and generated 32 million online reach and RM650,000 worth of free visibility to UTM and AHIBS.
AHIBS continues its high impact Global Dialogue series, a knowledge-sharing and networking platform that features diplomats to speak on current issues. In 2019, the program showcased the Turkish Ambassador and the Canadian High Commissioner, and had received many high profile attendees including ambassadors and diplomats from Egypt, Ukraine, Qatar, France, Kenya, Indonesia, Italy and Iraq. Both events were covered by Bernama and The Malay Mail for free.
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) culture is vibrant among AHIBS staff and students that contribute to further visibility to outsiders. For instance, AHIBS had conducted programs with Dato’ Rizalman Ibrahim and other NGOs as part of its pledge to enhance societal well-being. Some of these programs have been featured on local news platforms.
Digital communication is widely practiced at AHIBS through website, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google My Business, YouTube and UTM Newshub. AHIBS Facebook and Instagram have the largest followers compared to other faculties in UTM, and one of the most-followed business schools in Malaysia. Content development is carefully designed to convey messages in line with AHIBS image as bold and entrepreneurial business school.
Key events are promoted through social media campaigns and digital analytics is monitored. For example, ‘AHIBS Research Month’ campaign recorded 22,000 reach and 1,000 likes, while ‘AHIBS Road to Convo’ received 48,000 reach and 2,600 likes. Hashtags are also used strategically and consistently. Digital design is tailored to the theme and objectives of each campaign. For example, maroon, white and gold/orange (representing UTM colours) and turquoise blue (representing AmBank colour) were selected for the AAC and IAP campaigns.
Meanwhile, red, yellow and cheerful fonts were chosen to celebrate the AHIBS-McDonald’s MoA campaign. Various types of digital content such as posters, videos, montages, photo backdrops, and banners are developed to promote AHIBS programs or events.
AHIBS pursues extensive external partnerships to promote its brand presence outside. In 2019, AHIBS signed seven new partners (four Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), two MoAs and one Letter of Cooperation (LoC)) involving three international and four local bodies. It further signed a multi-lateral agreement with 16 Erasmus partners that brought €999,055 grant value to UTM. The school has close relationships with the state health departments through its MBA (Healthcare Management) which runs in 6 locations across Malaysia.
The branding strategy also covers physical and aesthetic aspects. In 2019, three billboards were erected at key traffic locations thus promoting AHIBS to the public. Four specially designed brand walls displaying AHIBS logo and credentials were built at AHIBS Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru that later became insta-worthy photo backdrops.
AHIBS has also started its renovation and makeover process for its buildings in Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru to enhance its business school image and learning atmosphere. ‘Scandinavian, industrial design with integrated green landscape’ is chosen as the design and is expected to be completed by 2021. The School also invests in the production of new branding items such as t-shirts, marketing kits and souvenirs.
Millions of thanks to all AHIBS staff for their dedication in making AHIBS the best business school brand.
Special credit to the team led by AP Dr. Rossilah Jamil (Assistant Dean External & Global Engagement), Dr. Haliyana Khalid (Digital Designer), Mr. Noor Ashruf Adzmawi Noor Akmar (Marketing Officer), Mr. Mohd. Rafi Abu Bakar (IT Officer), Mr. Azizol Md. Amin (Assistant IT Officer), Dr. Mazilah Abdullah (Assistant ADEGE), and Dr. Zuraidah Sulaiman (Social Media Coordinator JB), under the advisory of Prof. Dr. Nur Naha Abu Mansor (Dean).