Five Steps to Creating Your School’s Brand
As the parent of a first grader and a taxpayer, I’ve learned more than I could have ever imagined about the intricacies of the public school system — from how students are assessed in terms of readiness to the increasing competition for students and the taxpayer dollars they bring. These experiences drive my passion for advocating for data analytics to make better decisions for students and our learning communities.
As a veteran marketer, I’m also intrigued by the idea of using data analytics to build a school’s brand. Interestingly enough, there are many traditional business marketing practices incorporating data, which a school can use to build and enhance their brand. Today, I’ll discuss what a brand is and tips for approaching the creation (or recreation) of your school’s brand.
How to Build a Brand
A brand is more than just a logo or tagline. It is also about the feeling and the perception your organization creates in the consumer’s mind when they see your name and logo. Specifically, a brand reinforces and reminds students and the community of immediate and future goals, builds connections and perceptions with the students and the school community, and creates a sense of ownership and community for the campus. A brand is your identity: the values, culture, and personality that distinguish your school from any other.
Step 1: Define Your Brand Values
The first step in creating your brand is to define your unique value proposition. During this stage, it’s important to seek feedback from staff related to such questions as:
“What’s important to you?” “Who are we now or where are we now?” “Who do we want to be?” “What are our strategic goals?”
After you gather feedback, it’s then important to gain agreement across the organization. I suggest organizing a brainstorming session where you list your values and prioritize them based on what you believe in and want your organization to stand for. Think of your values in terms of words that could represent them and your organization. Ensure input is integrated from across the team and then align upon six to eight words or phrases that define your brand.
Step 2: Consistently Deliver on the Promise
Step 2 is about being consistent and repetitive in displaying your brand’s values in everything you do. Your core brand values should drive everything everyone does in the organization. Consistency sets expectations and reliance on what you offer, thereby reinforcing your brand.
Step 3: Create Your Name and Logo
Most established school districts already have a name and logo, but there is often an opportunity to recreate these brand elements based on how your organization has evolved. When thinking about a name, consider names that are easily spelled and pronounced, have less words for memorability and describe what you do. A logo should be recognizable and memorable, as well as relevant. It should convey your brand’s personality both visually and emotionally.
Step 4: Create and Integrate Your Distinct Voice
Every interaction — written and verbal — with students, employees, board members, and community members should have a set tone of voice. Your voice should be consistent across every interaction to make an impact on the experience people have with your brand.
Step 5: Build Your Brand Though Good Citizenship and Advocacy
When you establish your brand and parents understand that they and their kids are part of it, they then want to share. Part of building your brand is also involving and engaging the community, seeking brand champions among that audience, and building connections.
In addition to these steps, I also recommend the book BrandEd: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships and Empower Learning by Trish Rubin and Eric Sheninger. Rubin, a former educator now marketing consultant, believes it’s up to school leaders to now become “storytellers in chief” by defining their school’s brand. Rubin and Sheninger’s book provides a step-by-step framework to the nuances of spreading good school news and winning support.