Branding is a term commonly thrown around in the corporate world. Whether it’s Lululemon and yoga, Starbucks and coffee or the Canucks and whales, branding can deliver more than just consistent messages. It has everything to do with creating a culture, lifestyle and personality. Being branded doesn’t solely apply to corporations though, but can be transcended to people (by having a personal brand) and even schools.
A school’s brand has everything to do with how they are perceived and the experience they are able to give to their customers, or in this case, their school community. It’s what sets you apart from your competition, while also creating a memorable emotional connection between your school and your audience. So how do you define your school’s brand and how do you communicate that? Here are 5 ways to start developing your school’s brand.
- Who is your audience?
Are you a Montessori school? An IB school? A private all-boys school? To create a strong brand, make sure you know your audience is so you can match that to your school’s brand personality. To help you, create brand personas of who your target audience is. Define their characteristics, their wants and needs and a profile. This will help you create the next step in the process: the value proposition.
- What is your value proposition?
Your value proposition is what you promise to give to your audience. What are the benefits to students attending your school, or even the benefits for parents whom are a part of your school community? What is it about your school that sets you apart from the competition? Think about your school’s unique identity. Do you offer something that no other schools in your area are able to give?
You should be able to give your value proposition in one concise sentence. As your “tagline,” make sure this message is given consistently across all media. Most importantly, don’t change it, or use multiple taglines. After defining your audience and developing your value proposition, create your brand identity.
- What is your brand identity?
Your brand identity is how you wish to be perceived by others and essentially, what your school’s personality is. You want to make sure that you leave a good impression. In order to do this, define your school’s goals, strengths and weaknesses, and make sure you are meeting the expectations of your audience.
Your brand is conveyed through everything: your logo and how that’s used around school, uniforms, and even your school bus. All of these things are part of your brand and are important in creating a visually memorable and positive experience for anyone who comes across your school.
- What is your branding guideline?
This is where you get creative, through your school’s brand style guideline. This ranges from choosing your school’s colours, deciding on one logo, having consistent brand elements (for the layout and design of all outreach materials), to the writing style of all communication. It is simply a document ensuring message and design consistency throughout all print and digital channels to unify the content under your brand.
- Who uses your brand?
It’s easy to think that only your teachers and admin will be using your brand. However, everyone in your school community is your school’s brand ambassador: admin, teachers, students and parents. Whether it’s ensuring teachers have the same content and design for their email signatures, to admin using the same messaging and design elements on school handouts, to having a school uniform policy, make sure the members of your community know how to represent your brand.
Creating your school’s brand takes time, but the results will mean a tighter knit, more engaged community who are clear on your objectives as a school of what you can provide to your students.