Branding & Longitudinal Data Systems

Longitudinal Data System

Photo Credit: Candace Parrish

Data & Branding? Absolutely! Branding and Longitudinal Data Systems (LDS) go hand in hand.  Establishing a cohesive brand (logos, messaging, and services) for an LDS can prove beneficial in the area of usability.  From a database website to programs and apps used, clear recognition of an organization by its users across any market is a key to success.

With the rise of “Big Data” research and the use massive database systems it is increasingly important to keep organizations and their constituents on one accord. No matter how precise the research, faulty branding and/or key messaging could easily dissatisfy database users and cause disconnect. There is vast opportunity for brand confusion of an LDS considering longitudinal research is conducted over a lengthy period of time and often includes third party contributors. According to EBSCO Publishing, branding promotes:

  • Personalized search experiences using library logos.
  • Library awareness with unique logos and library names.
  • Customized messages via text added to the bottom of key screens.

The online reference system offers a couple of tools, EBSCOhost & EBSCOadmin making it a prime example of cohesive branding amongst various company programs. The company also offers branding tutorials for interested users.

With so many database systems, how can an LDS be made more distinguishable?

An LDS is more likely to be differentiated amongst similar databases by creating a brand strategy. Below, the St. Paul Marketing Team (an online marketing group) offers a Marketing and Branding- What is Brand Strategy video, which explains the value of strategically marketing a brand.

Once a cohesive brand strategy has been created and implemented promotional efforts do not cease. Through positioning, the brand must continuously be exposed to LDS publics and users, as the database will be operating over vast periods of time.

Strategic Marketing Services’ blog post, Quantitative Techniques for Brand Equity Research, Part I, suggests that the momentum of branding can be continued by conducting brand recognition research; a method used to evaluate recognition of the brand by its users, visually or orally.  Brand recognition research can help strengthen the memorability of an LDS’s logo, message, or services if used as a benchmark assessment tool.

Famous actor and director Orson Welles once said, “Create your own visual style… let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” This very quote is applicable to an LDS when it comes to creating a unique and memorable brand.

In general, branding should be embedded throughout an LDS’s campaign. Over time company imagery and messaging may change for a multitude of reasons, however, implementation and assessment of a brand should be continuous.


Just like VLDS

We (Virginians) are not alone. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Education released a fact sheet stating that 41 states nation-wide were given grants of up to $265 million to develop “longitudinal data systems to capture, analyze, and use student data from preschool to high school, college, and the workforce.


Much like Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) in other states, the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS) is designed collect information from Virginia school systems and workforce to create a cohesive database useful to publics such as educators, policymakers, and researchers. This information is collected continuously over long periods of time to capture the progress of students from kindergarten all the way to their first job experiences. Although a student’s personal information (name, social security number, etc.) cannot be accessed by researchers, collective data about groups of individuals will be tracked and analyzed for educational development.

As mentioned before, we are not alone in the quest for the betterment of education. States like IllinoisOregon, and Michigan have proceeded with implementing SLDS’s for research and educational system assessments. Closer to us, the District of Columbia created a Statewide Longitudinal Education Data System (SLED) as well. Even Hawaii initiated efforts in creating an SLDS. Participation from fellow states within the US makes the movement towards maximizing educational research monumental.


The Institute of Education Sciences (IES)’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—apart of the U.S. Department of Education—opens it’s “About” page with a thought provoking quote: “Better decisions require better information.” This is quite an appropriate quote as Virginia has access to incredible tools to produce groundbreaking educational research, yet no cohesive system collect and analyze the potential data.

In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into existence by President Obama proving more funding for LDS research to improve America’s educational opportunities.  Federal funding opportunities like this have jump-started initiatives for states across the U.S. to create SLDS’s and further motivates Virginia to begin research to better statewide educational systems.

Educational excellence should be a standard in Virginia school systems, not a dream. With top of the line research using data collected from the beginning of a student’s academic career to their first workforce experiences, the VLDS could offer a broad range of positive opportunities. What positive research or opportunities can you see developing as a result of implementing a statewide longitudinal data system in Virginia?