What is branding?
Think of branding as a promise you make to your clients. In the case of schools, your clients are your students, your families and your staff. The brand intimates what can be expected from your school. Subtly, it tells how you differ from other schools in the marketplace. The word that sums up excellent branding is ‘consistent’.
5 things that will reinforce your branding
Over the last few years I have noticed quite a few schools applying these points to great effect and this is encouraging. I am sure they are reaping the rewards. However, there are still schools that present a confused and sometimes non-existent brand.
- Using a consistent logo – When you think of the world’s most recognised brands, you have a clear picture of their logo and an understanding of their product or service. One of the reasons for this is consistency. You don’t see a squashed version of the Coca Cola logo appearing on a billboard. Recognisable brands are unbelievably consistent – large corporations have departments that look after branding to ensure it is consistent. If many variations of your logo are used then your brand is being diluted.
- Using a strong and simple tagline – A tagline can express the essence of your school. It’s a chance to tell part of your unique story or your unique perspective on schooling. The best taglines are succinct and use words that connect to our emotions. Once the tagline has been developed your school should stick to it, repeat it and tie it to your advertising and marketing. The same rule applies to the tagline as to the logo: be consistent.
- Using brand elements consistently – Your school brand is usually associated with interplay of your logo, your tagline and your graphic design elements. Graphic design elements include the consistent use of colours, layouts, fonts and even the tone of conversation! Look at what the people outside your school get to see. Great branding is reinforced through creating items that look like they are part of a family. They have the repetitive use of the same elements. For example: your school magazine, year book, newspaper advertisements, website, letterhead, Facebook page etc should all look like they belong. One of the most difficult things to control is having volunteers or well-meaning staff create stationery or posters or flyer that look like they don’t fit into your school. Get tough. Your brand is being messed with!
- Using great photography – Photos make all the difference to a school publication or website. The saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’ is so true – but only if the words are those that you want to hear. I suggest you invest in a professional photographer or an enthusiast (under direction) to collect some great images that speak the right message about your school. Fuzzy, poorly exposed, badly cropped or low resolution photos tell your audience that you don’t really care. If you are telling the story of your school – make sure you include all the players; the staff, the students, the facilities, the expressions and the events (big and small). Photos that include movement and activity are awesome.
- Controlling the application of the brand – In each case where a consistent and recognisable brand has been developed by a school I have found that the school has a dedicated person or team of people that control and maintain the application of the brand. This is so important. Any item that people outside the school see or come in contact with has to be produced by the same person or team, following strict design guidelines. Most schools go to the expense of producing a style guide or similar but fail in the application.
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What others are saying . . .
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The series provided me with a greater understanding of their student programs and policies. In particular, I was amazed at the depth of the pastoral care structure and the services for staff and students offered in the new Wellbeing Centre.
In short, my perception of St Paul’s School has totally changed.
I really wanted to let St Paul's know that I am very impressed and learnt an incredible amount just in that half hour.
I believe a communication tool like this is an invaluable resource for all schools and an essential element of a sound communication plan.
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The concept of interviewing key staff on-line is innovative and engaging. It provided a way for a school parent or perspective parent to appreciate the quality the staff and what the school offers.