Schools are facing increasing challenges in terms of competition, staff recruitment, funding, student numbers and parent communications to name just a few. How schools manage and deal with such issues varies, but one aspect that should not be neglected, is your school brand.
Thinking about your school as a brand is still a relatively new concept for many schools across the UK. Embracing this however can provide significant benefit and it can help many of the aforementioned challenges.
What is your school brand?
Many think that your school brand is simply a school logo or motto, yet it’s far more than this. Your school brand is about the DNA of your school…its pulse; its personality, ethos and vision; its strengths and what you can offer; your positioning in the ‘market place’; the true essence of your school; it’s how you’re perceived by parents and the wider community; and it’s how you set yourself apart from competitor schools.
Pretty powerful right?
Does your current school brand give a true impression of your school’s unique qualities and values?
Are prospective parents getting a true reflection of what your school can offer for their child? What is your prospectus saying? How does your website come across? Are your school tours offering a great experience rather than just a good one?
For existing parents, students and staff, do the values or ethos permeate through all aspects of school life, and do your staff live and breathe them?
Is your brand consistent across all touch points with your stakeholders?
Your marketing and communications strategy should not start and end with a website and prospectus. Every single touch point with your stakeholders – parents, teachers, students, governors and the local community – needs to impress. Your aims, ethos, positioning and personality should be presented, consistently, succinctly and emotively, in every piece of communication, whether a letter to parents, a social media post, a newsletter or promoting your Open Day.
Where to start?
The key to developing a strong brand starts with understanding your school’s key strengths, and truly grasping what the true essence of your school is that makes it different to others.
To do this, it’s essential to seek input from your stakeholders. What do existing parents, staff and students see as your strengths? This needs to be teased out … not accepting standard answers…but truly getting to what is special, unique and extraordinary about your school. It will be there…it’s just not always apparent immediately.
Making assumptions about what these are, risks over-promotion of an aspect which doesn’t match stakeholder views. Or on the other hand, may mean key assets of the school are overlooked.
Once your school’s key strengths are truly understood, this can form the basis of your brand development and your communications messaging.
What are the benefits of a strong school brand?
The benefits of developing a strong, compelling and emotive school brand are immensely powerful and include aspects such as:
- Boosting student and staff recruitment.
- Improving the overall profile of the school and its reputation in the local community.
- Increasing student and staff retention.
- Building a tribe of advocates in your key stakeholders. For example, existing parents are often prospective parents too, so getting (and keeping) them on side via clear communication and representation of your school is vital.
- Increased engagement on social media platforms and from key media outlets.
So, whatever your challenges, do not overlook the power of your school brand and the positive effect it can have on tackling those issues that we know schools are increasingly facing.
Heads, School Business Managers, Governors, Parents, Teachers – what are your thoughts and experiences on school branding and marketing? How do you market your school? Do you know how to convey the essence of your school? Please leave a comment or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org