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.
I was reading Social Media News the other day that a lot more than 50% of adults in the same demographic as parents use Facebook an average of 58 times per week. This has a big impact on the style of marketing and communication methods to reach these people.
If you knew that over 50% of your audience were going to the movies – then you would have cinema advertising. The same goes for Facebook. It is just another medium. And your audience is turning up regularly.
How is your Facebook strategy? Are you getting the most out of it? If not, maybe we can help you.
To read more Facebook statistics please visit David Cowling’s site:
Too often, photographs used in school marketing carry no emotion and no emotion equals no engagement. My daughter recently got married and I think the photos from her wedding are awesome….not because I am biased but because they are so different. You see, the photographer used a documentary style for 95% of the shots and by doing that captured the essence of what was actually happening. The photos are alive and full of energy because they were not staged!! It was almost like the photographer was invisible and just captured what was happening without anyone worrying about him being there.
The same strategy should be used when taking photos of school students for publications or marketing. Set-up or staged shots, more often than not, carry no energy or emotion because the students are acutely aware that they are being photographed and somehow that seems to make the energy disappear. When building a database of images for a school, I have found that a roving approach is great…just capture the students doing what they are doing, engaged in their work, relating to the teacher, absorbed in the moment and not too worried about being the subject of a photograph. Nine times out of ten, having the activity or emotion of the moment as the hero of the shot rather than the student delivers an awesome result!!
Everyone seems to be using (or at least talking about) social media across all business sectors.
The question is:
“How does social media fit into school marketing?”
I’ve noticed that almost every independent school now has a Facebook page and a Twitter account and I wonder if they have done so because everyone else has them (and they don’t want to be left behind) or if they have a definite social media strategy in place.
I really believe there is a place for social media in the school marketing environment, but it has to be thought through correctly. The usual questions of any marketing channel should be raised:
- Why use this channel?
- What are we going to promote through this channel?
- Who are we reaching?
- What do we do with them once we reach them?
- How do we measure our marketing effectiveness through this channel?
- What is the cost (time, fixed overhead, staff) of using the channel?
There is an interesting article by Tim Winkler (The Australian) that talks about having rules – worth the read.
If your school is ready for a considered social media strategy (complete with the rules) why not give us a call?
I was listening to an interview with Dr Helen Proctor (Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney) and was interested by her comment that some parents choose to send their children to a private school because they are anxious about sending them to a public school.
Whether that anxiety can be substantiated is another question, but as we all know, perception is reality.
The sample group of parents interviewed was only 60 and may not be entirely representative however this thought should not be ignored by private schools wanting to increase their enrolments by addressing the real needs of parents.
How do parents choose?
When rating the most influential sources of information that a parent would use in choosing a school for their child, the March 2011 Independent Schools Queensland Survey found the following:
2010 What Parent’s Want Survey 
- Friends and colleagues
- Other parents with children at the school
- School open day
- Family member(s) already at school
- My School website
- Independent Schools Queensland
- School/Kindergarten child was attending
- Other school associations/organisations
- Local (suburban) newspapers
- Telephone Book
- State Education Department
This highlights that four of the top five influences are about relationship. The strategy fits into the relationship style of communication perfectly.
 What Parents Want, An Independent Schools Queensland Survey, Key Findings MARCH 2011, p10
Independent Schools Queensland, PO Box 957 Spring Hill Qld 4004 www.aisq.qld.edu.au
St Paul’s School, an Anglican co-educational school from Prep to Year 12 in Brisbane, has recently embarked on a webinar marketing strategy. An initial program of four webinars broadcast fortnightly has addresssed topics such as “What makes for the best schools?”,”Every child belongs”, “Is private education really value for money?” and “Opportunities for every child”.
Using webinars in the school sector is a new initiative designed to not only develop a sense of community for parents and prospective parents but also to make a very strong statement about the school’s willingness to embrace and use new technology. While lots of schools will say they are embracing new technology, to actually use it as part of a marketing strategy sends a very strong message to the school community.
The St Paul’s School webinars are also just a bit different from the average webinar. Participants not only receive audio input but can view a range of images on their computer screen that highlight what is being discussed. This further reinforces the message that is being broadcast.
Feedback from the school community has been very positive with one parent commenting that she now feels like she has a far greater understanding and appreciation of the pastoral care programs that are available for her two sons at the school. She was very impressed to learn in more detail about how St Paul’s creates a real sense of belonging for students. As a lot of school recommendations are driven by word of mouth, it is great to know that parents can be real advocates for the school.
Here is an example of the webinars that St Paul’s School recorded for play back:
[hdplay id=2 width=400 height=300 ]
From Dr Linda Vining’s Centre for Marketing Schools:
By early next year the number of people with a smart phone with internet access will outstrip the old phone system. This was a topic at the 2011 CeBit Web Forward Conference.
By 2013 more internet searches will be done on mobile phones than on computers.
Australia has the world’s highest per capita use of mobile phones.
Is your school ready for this?
Is your school website optimised for viewing on a smart phone? Worth thinking about. It used to be that flash animation was very trendy – not so now as flash cannot be easily supported on all smart phones.
Want to know more?
No obligation. If you find our Enrol More Students online strategy compelling, the next step is to talk over the finer points with you. We can only work with a limited number of schools at one time so contact us today.
What others are saying . . .
Model Incredibly Powerful
The enrolmorestudents.com.au model is incredibly powerful! The ability to communicate visually and audibly with prospective parents, without them even having to leave home is incredible. Even more exciting is the ability of the system to know who is online listening in, who has left the webinar and who hasn’t taken any action from the webinar so they can be followed up.
Enrolmorestudents.com.au gives schools the ability to turn their marketing into a predictable science rather than some mysterious alchemy!
Breakthrough in School Marketing
The internet is a tool that has the potential to dramatically change the way any business presents itself and delivers its message. We have personally helped hundreds of businesses improve their bottom line by successfully implementing internet strategies.
The Enrol More Students model is a breakthrough in school marketing.
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.
Innovative and Engaging
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.