Branding: The Influence of Your School's Identity
Published on 08/06/16
Branding is the story from which your school can communicate with your stakeholders. A brand is much more than just a logo; it is a set of beliefs, values and characteristics. It is essentially a representation of your school’s personality. However, before you consider re-branding your school, you need to fully clarify how you want to be perceived by not only your stakeholders, but also your competition.
Understand Your Audience
The key thing to remember is that every prospective parent, student or teacher has a choice - and with an increase in options comes an increase in competition. It is this reason that image conscious schools are spending more money on promoting themselves, year on year.
Due to the online nature of your target audience it is not only vital that you have an online presence, but also that it provides your stakeholders with a user-friendly and enjoyable experience. This means accommodating your site for:
- Parents - who will use your site to keep up to date with news, events and student records.
- Students - who might access the website to find out about work that has been set, or when their school trip is.
- Teachers - access their secure area where they will find student records and also potentially looking for new jobs.
But good marketing is about more than just a shiny prospectus and a hi-tech website, it's about encouraging everyone; from the head of governors to the youngest pupil - to feel strongly about their school and spread the word. It's not just about talking, it's about listening.
It’s important to understand what your stakeholders want and need from your website. What do they care about and what information are they looking for? How do they interact with you on and off your website? Are they particularly invested in the school and how can you make them more so? The aim of the game is to turn your existing parents, students and teachers into advocates of your brand – promoting your school across their social platforms, to their friends and other prospective parents.
Define How Your School is Different
- What does your school pride itself on?
- What is it that sets your school’s personality aside from your competition?
- What are the most important values and beliefs?
All of these questions are ones that you should be asking yourself to identify your competitive advantage when trying to get the attention of prospective parents, students and teachers. It is the collective of these core values that will provide the bedrock of all your marketing communication.
Telling Your Story
Your brand is the facilitator and voice from which you have a platform to tell your school’s story. Coming up with a motto should encapsulate the essence of your brand in 5 or less words. Keep it sharp, strappy and engaging.
An independent school that has demonstrated their ability to utilise storytelling to promote their school and it’s facilities is Stamford Endowed Schools. They realised that a significant proportion of their students were international – and a major incentive for enrolling was down to destination. Stamford is a typically Harry Potter-esque, traditionally British town, with stunning architecture surrounded by idyllic English country landscapes. They utilised their location and told their story through their #ThisIsWhere campaign. Watch the video to see how Stamford Endowed Schools have done it.
Promotion: Spreading The Word
First impressions count! A logo acts as the face of your brand. It is a signifier that will help your stakeholders and competition identify you at first glance. Your logo should clearly demonstrate your ethos, values and exactly what you stand for as a school. There is no such thing as a bog-standard school. Express your school's personality and strengths, communicate them at every opportunity, and consider everything. Your font can have a huge impact in how your brand is initially perceived.
This is one of the most important branding opportunities for any school. Having visible, striking and clearly legible signage can make the difference of being noticed by a passer-by. By using the schools colour scheme and including your logo, this will reinforce the schools branding along with directing any visitors to your site.
If you are considering investing in a new school website, this provides you with the perfect opportunity to give your schools, academies or trusts a fresh face. Your website is important, and it is worth it! By ensuring that you have a strong identity along with a logo that will translate across all platforms, this will enable your brand to remain congruous and flow seamlessly.
It is also beneficial to have a logo that can be simplified into a thumbnail, which will allow for the inclusion of individual visual elements into the design of the website and any other print based media you may decide to create.
Photography goes hand in hand with a new website. Without high quality imagery, your new website may lose out on the premium feel that you would expect from a new website.
There are also options available for us to provide you with school videos that can be embedded on your website. Or why not give your website visitors a glimpse of your Academies’ grounds and facilities with our tablet friendly, 360 virtual tours.
Print is definitely not dead! People will always like to have a tangible object to take home and read in their own time. However, don't focus all of your attention on print - it comes as part of a package; a printed brochure gives only a fleeting glimpse into school life.
When prospective parents or students come to look around the school, handing them a high quality, well designed school prospectus is an invaluable way of your school (brand) remaining in the forefront of their mind after they have left your premises. They won't be able to retain all of the information provided to them on the open day - so your school prospectus should aim to provide your stakeholders with all that is necessary to help them make their final enrolment decision.
As the journey from your website to print, and visa-versa, should be seamless, you may want to look into having a redesign of your current prospectus. This is something that our designers would discuss with you at the consultancy phase, if this is something that you feel would be beneficial. With a full re-brand, this is definitely an option that we would highly recommend.
Social media platforms are a fantastic way to increase your brand awareness. Get involved in discussions, engage with your stakeholders and provide them with relevant, useful and interesting content. Posting pictures of sports games, educational trips, and high achievers will encourage parents to like, share or re-tweet - thus spreading your brand organically. Here comes a generic but very true marketing statement: people listen to people; so utilise your school promoters to your advantage.
If you have a school blog, you can use your social platforms to promote your posts and link into content that can be found on your website; for example, your news and events pages or the school calendar - directing more traffic (visitors) to your website.