Brand Building for Schools
Building a brand that is recognized is critical for businesses to move forward. Businesses spend millions upon millions of dollars to project the image of their company and product to their targeted consumer. We see these brands displayed on our television sets, billboards, internet banner ads, and we even wear their labels on our clothes.
While you don’t need to spend millions, you do need to allocate some resources to the development of your school brand. As you develop and define your brand, this is the opportunity that you have to tell the story of and truth about your school to the community and constituencies you serve. In order to develop your brand, you will need to take several steps.
The first step in this process is to begin with an assessment of your school’s current brand. You will need to take a look at all of your materials to see how your logo, colors and messages are being used and communicated. Do you have a logo that accurately represents who your school? Does it convey the life, excitement and quality of your school? Is it used consistently throughout your internal and external marketing effort?
One school I was working with actually had about 5-6 different logos that were used throughout their marketing materials. There were many different variations and iterations of their logo. In fact, while I was in a meeting with their development director he showed me one more logo that he had recently developed and printed on an invitation inviting potential donors to a fundraising event. Certainly, he had good intentions. However, this was another example of how their brand was being diluted and ineffective. Your school needs one logo, one color palette, one clear message and one visual identity that is used consistently throughout the entire marketing effort.
As part of this assessment process, you will need to understand your school’s brand distinctives. In other words, what are the words and phrases that describe and define your school. This is what makes your school stand apart from other schools. It is important for your administrative leadership team to be on the same page concerning how you each describe the school. Not only does your visual identity need to be used consistently, the messaging must have continuity.
The second step in this process is to create (or re-create) the brand for your school. In most cases, this must be accomplished by someone with expertise in design and branding. You can certainly rely upon the talents in your parent constituency, employ a free-lance designer or hire a design agency. The key is that you work with someone that has the “know-how” to develop a visual brand for your school by taking into account the assessment conducted in step one and then creating an emotionally compelling brand identity that includes a logo, tagline, color palette and overall design direction for your materials.
Finally, the third step is to actually apply your brand, as it is created and defined, consistently throughout all of your internal and external marketing efforts. This is half the battle when it comes to producing the most appealing image of your school. Just as you see the Nike “swoosh” everywhere in their marketing effort, it is always the same logo mark even though the color may change. Everything that is designed and produced must look like it belongs to your school! By applying your brand identity, you will consistently build your brand to all of your constituent groups.
By following these three simple steps you will build your school’s brand. But, more importantly, you will be on your way to effectively marketing your brand to the community you are trying to reach.