The School Branding Strategy for the Modern School
Branding is essential for any business or organization, even a school. Your audience is being bombarded with dozens of brands on a daily basis, through social media, advertising, and other avenues like radio and print media. With so much going on, it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Good branding creates the opportunity to be memorable and
What Is School Branding and Does It Matter?
Branding is just as important for schools as any business. When deciding where to send their child, parents often research top of mind and top rated schools online. Creating a brand for your school will set it apart in the minds of your future students and parents.
School branding isn’t just logos and colors, though. It’s the identity and the personality of your school. It tells your audience who you are upon meeting them. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to understand that first impressions are crucial. In fact, studies show that you have only 50 milliseconds to make an impression with your website . That’s how long it takes your visitors to form an opinion about your web presence. So, it’s important that your branding is strong.
Branding for schools isn’t about sales and customers, but students, families and experiences. It’s an opportunity to communicate your benefits and values to your community and prospective students and families. Once you have a strong strategy, you’ll reinforce your brand through marketing materials, communication channels, school websites and mobile apps .
In this post, we’ll discuss the best practices to create your school’s branding strategy. Keep reading to master your school’s brand strategy.
Getting Started with School Branding
At this point, you might have ideas rushing in about what you want your brand to look like and communicate. But, before you dive in, you’ll want to answer a few questions to set yourself up for success. By outlining these points now, you’ll make sure to cover your bases when creating your school’s brand.
Define your audience
The first step is defining who you’re talking to and what you’re trying to accomplish when speaking to them. Answer these questions: Who is your brand trying to reach? What are the goals of reaching your target audience (info inquiries, new enrollments, etc.) These answers will solidify the who and why.
Develop a brand mission statement
Your mission statement is your brand’s purpose, your goals, and how you intend to serve your audience. This can be as simple as a few words, or more complex with a few sentences. Consider physical, emotional and logical aspects. Look to brands outside of schools for guidance.
Stepping outside your bubble is a great way to get a fresh perspective when defining your brand. What do others have to say about your school? How would they describe it? Getting an outside opinion can help you consider other aspects you might otherwise overlook. Maybe you do something extremely well that you don’t realize. Or, maybe others value something about your school that isn’t obvious from the inside. Even if you think you have your it figured out, getting another point of view is always useful.
We already discussed looking at businesses for ideas. But, look around at what other schools are doing with their branding . It’ll give you ideas to use in your own school brand. Look at successful schools near you, and in other areas.
(School branding created by Solved Consulting)
How to Create a Brand Strategy
Following the above steps will set you on your way to creating your strategy. But, let’s break it down further. There are 3 core components that make up a brand strategy. We call them brand purpose, brand positioning, and visual identity. Let’s take a look at each of these.
3 Core Elements of School Branding
1. Brand Purpose
Your school’s brand purpose is exactly what it sounds like. It’s your message to the outside world, what you promise to deliver, your core values, and your mission statement. Your purpose is your reason for existence. You need this to be as honest as possible. Stating your purpose is one thing when it’s really another is inauthentic, and will come off as insincere.
It’s important to keep in mind that this message is what will ultimately attract or repel potential families from enrolling with you. Ultimately, it is the pledge you’ll make to the world about what students will get by enrolling in your school.
For example, if you’re a technical school that aims to help students land their first job, then your brand purpose should reflect this.
Crafting a brand story can help exemplify your purpose. It’s proven that the power of storytelling creates trust for your brand and can persuade prospective families to enroll with your school. You’ll want to craft this story and share it throughout your communications and help it guide your positioning as well.
2. Brand Positioning
Your brand positioning is crafted through messaging, taglines, marketing materials, all the way down to the tone in which you communicate. The way you position yourself is your differentiator, what sets you apart from other schools.
Messaging is the voice you use when talking about your brand. It’s the words you use and the way you communicate when you talk about your school. Your tone of voice will be determined based on your audience and marketing goals, and your brand purpose. Your tone impacts your positioning as well. Are you formal? Friendly? Approachable? Family-oriented? These choices impact your positioning.
Be sure to incorporate your tone across all marketing channels, communications, and make sure your team is well versed on how you present yourself to new students, families or community partners.
Taglines are quick phrases that are often used to sum up your brand in a few words. These lines should quickly resonate with your audience and be immediately memorable. Here are a few examples:
- “Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow”
- “An Art Infused School”
- “A Partnership In Discovery”
Other ways you position your school is through differentiation. Sharing key information, statistics, and data highlighting what sets you apart will differentiate your brand from your competitors. For example, you can position yourself based on your school demographics, what percentage of your graduating class is attending college, or athletic achievements.
Everything you choose to communicate and the style and tone of voice in which you do it determines how you position yourself. Take time to think about how you want to be portrayed before finalizing your brand.
3. Visual Identity
Brand visuals are often the first thing people think of when they think about branding. It’s true that visuals are a huge part of the overall brand, but it’s not everything. Determining your purpose and positioning first will help inform your visual identity. You want your school logo and colors to reflect your true identity.
Importance of Visual identities
Many schools have a logo, mascot and school colors, but that doesn’t make a brand. Brand is in the execution, how you use visual identity components to strengthen your message, communicate more clearly, be more memorable.
A study from the U.S. Chambers of Commerce found that 55% of brand first impressions are made from visuals. This shows the power of strong visuals. And, consistency is key. Use the same colors, fonts, style of imagery in all marketing communications to strengthen your brand.
School Branding As A Part Of Marketing Strategy
Having a rock solid brand makes running multiple marketing channels easier by providing a framework to work from. It also serves as a checks and balances system with new marketing ideas (only ideas that work within the brand strategy are launched).
It’s important to remember that your school’s brand is a bedrock that all of your marketing efforts and communications rely on. Having a strong identity will help your school standout and help prospective students and families choose your school.
Solved Consulting Can Help You Create Your School’s Branding
Our team members have decades of experience in the education, technology, and marketing industries. We’ve been helping schools create their brand identities and strategies for years. Let us help you boost your brand, and modernize your school today.