Even with the above-mentioned variants, by definition, only a limited number of institutions who stand to gain from rankings can be included.
For better or worse, the reality is that this can hurt or bolster a university brand in the current climate (though some reports find that their importance is in decline).
But we should certainly not lose sight of the fact that they are one-size-fits-all exercises. Leaving aside the scores of excellent non-Anglophone universities out there (though these often operate in countries where higher education is free, making it a different proposition altogether), this means that they can only serve a limited amount (and types) of institutions. And this usually means the status quo.
If you’re trying to break into this status quo, they can be a good measure of progress – though we would advise against using them as a benchmarking tool.
For everyone else, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect. What are your actual strengths? And who exactly do you want to know about them? Rankings are only a single part of the branding mix, and perhaps they do not adequately measure what you’re about.
It’s worth focusing energy and resources on developing a carefully-cultivated brand identity and strategy, rather than obsessing over rankings. Offer high-quality provision based on this, and your brand reputation will grow – amplified by an equally carefully-cultivated communication strategy.
It might be that this ends up being reflected in rankings…or it might be that, actually, it doesn’t matter.