The Importance of Signage in Marketing your School

I have been on many private school campuses. It always amazes me to find schools with poor signage along the road as well as directional signage on campus that fails to point the prospective parent to the main office and admissions office. In fact, just the other day, I visited a school and parked in the wrong parking lot and never saw a sign to direct me where to go.

Most often, I find that this breaks down when a school is part of a church. It seems like the priority for the signage is always for the church first, even though the impact of the school is significant and is often its largest ministry (this will be a blog article for another time!).

When I visit a school for the first time, I try to take notice like a first-time, prospective parent.  The curb appeal of the campus and the signage is very important in creating a quality first impression. I try to ask the following questions:

  • Is the school prominently advertised on the main road?
  • What is communicated about the school through the signage?
  • Is the admissions office easy to find for the prospective parent?
  • Is the school taking advantage of its opportunities to create a quality first impression?

During this past year I have had the opportunity to work with Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School in Bradenton, FL. The school provides a high quality brand image through their signage. Let me share with you several things they have done.

Saint Stephen's Episcopal School Main Entrance SignMain School Sign – Located on a busy four-lane street, their brand is prominently displayed on impressive roadside signage. The sign includes a digital scrolling message board that communicates important messages to thousands of people driving by the school everyday. Not only can you see the entrance sign from the road, Saint Stephen’s is also displayed on the side of one of its main buildings, thus providing additional visibility for its brand name.

Saint Stephen's Episcopal School BannerBanners – In order to communicate key brand messages, light pole banners were designed, printed and installed in the main parking lot. Theses banners create an early first impression of the world-class education that is offered.

Saint Stephen's Episcopal School Van WrapVan Wraps – During the summer, the school invested in van wraps to utilize space on six very white shuttle vans. As these vans transport students to and from school throughout the area, as well as to athletic events after school, the Saint Stephen’s brand is seen as a moving billboard on the roadways.

Annual Fund Sign at Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

Annual Fund – The annual fund campaign is a significant part of the campus culture at Saint Stephen’s, as well as at most independent schools. In both car lines, a colorful and attractive annual fund board communicates the participation level of giving from the three key constituent groups—parents, board, and faculty/staff.

Welcome Board – In the entry ways, a large flat screen TV is mounted to the wall and a slide show communicates important messages as well as lists the name of the prospective family and student visiting campus for the day.

The leadership at Saint Stephen’s is committed to doing things right and it shows in their signage as well as in the first impression they create.

What about your campus signage and branding opportunities? 

Are you making the best first impression for your prospective parents and first-time visitors?

Take a look around. Ask a prospective parent what they see. Signage should be a key part of every school’s marketing strategy.