Here’s a pop quiz: When you think “golden arches,” what pops into your mind? San Francisco, perhaps—but we’d be shocked if you weren’t craving a Happy Meal right about now. Ever wonder if there are branding basics for school leaders?
Creating brand identity is at the core of how businesses grow and succeed. Your school brand is synonymous with how you’re perceived by your students and throughout your community. It’s what people immediately think when they drive by or your school comes up in conversation. When students and their parents—current and future—walk through the front doors, you want them to instantly get your brand. You won’t be set apart and or seen as a driving force in your community without one.
The best PR you can give your school is to outline and then execute a brand strategy. You want the stories of your school to start with you. Here are five steps you can start taking today to define your school’s brand and share its story with the world!
1. Find your underlying purpose
To begin defining your school brand, consider holding a townhall style meetings with teachers, parents, and students. Ask them what they think are your school’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. What do you stand for? What do you WANT to stand for? Taking this time to bring everyone together to give them a say is essential. Your school’s brand reflects its beliefs and core values. What better way to bring those to the forefront than by receiving guidance from those who help shape them every day? By including them in the process, you’re empowering them to spread the word.
2. Create a mission statement
Look at the recurring words and themes from your meeting. Use it to draft a written statement that clearly lays out what your school offers to the community; how it plans to serve students, teachers, and parents; and what makes it unique. Once those words are set, pass it out to everyone at your school. Hang it in the main entrance and reiterate them at school wide meetings and events. Before long, your mission statement will guide how your school operates on every level.
3. Make it visual
Now that you know your purpose, show it! Create a school logo and plaster it everywhere from social media accounts to letterhead to banners. You want people to know who you are, be able to pick you out of a crowd and never confuse you with any other school. Use your school colors and think up a tagline to go with it.
4. Tell your story
To get your school brand out there, you need to share. Use social media to shout out big achievements or school wide programs you’re particularly proud came together. Build a school website that clearly conveys why any parent would be proud to have their children receive an education there. Have students create weekly videos with updates on all the memorable things that happened—and tease what’s next. There’s no such thing as “oversharing” —the more you do it, the more you’re remembered and respected (just follow the rules).
5. Don’t be afraid to show off
Encourage your students and faculty to apply for awards and enter contests. You want to showcase the talent within your school. Have your faculty take part in community wide events, too. It says a lot if they support local artists, sports teams, or businesses. And, invite the community into your school for everything from science fairs to student plays. The beauty of your school starts from the inside so let everyone see! Build a school brand you’re proud of.
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