The Importance of Branding Your School

This summer, have you gotten to share a Coke with Chris yet? How about with Emma? For the fourth summer in a row, the Coca-Cola company is hedging their bets that by putting your name or your friend’s name right on their bottle, you’ll drink more Coca-Cola than if they don’t. According to this Investopedia article, the move was one of the most successful marketing campaigns in the company’s history for three big reasons:

  1. Consumers were prompted to participate and create online media content.
  2. The brand connected with consumers on a personal level.
  3. The words used in the campaign are powerful calls to action.

By the end of the summer of 2015, more than 500,000 photos were shared using the #ShareaCoke hashtag. Consumers created and shared more than 6 million virtual coke bottles. Lastly, Coca-Cola gained over 25 million additional Facebook followers as a result of the campaign.

As educators, we need to take our cue from successful business marketing and branding campaigns such as Coca-Cola’s most recent initiative because now, more than ever, we need to engage our school communities through similar means. If my school is any indication of the national trend, fewer and fewer parents are taking the time to develop working relationships through the tried and true traditional means, such as coming in for a formal parent-teacher meeting or having a conversation over the phone. Parents get their information and develop their opinion on the effectiveness or quality of a school based on the efforts that the school has taken to define their image through a variety of digital communication means. Now more than ever, a school needs to be mindful of how they portray themselves through communication.

This is not the first time that I have written about how educators should approach communication. In fact, in a 2014 Multibriefs Exclusive, I highlighted several ways that teachers could promote positive communication with parents at the classroom level. To take that one step further, in a 2015 Multibriefs Exclusive, I posed this question to school leaders: How does your school use social media to connect with families? I went on to write, “The use of social media, with sites like Twitter and Facebook specifically, has dramatically helped our school improve its public relations image with our community and provide our families with real-time communication on upcoming events and important issues.” At the beginning of 2017, again for a Multibriefs Exclusive, I offered additional tips to educators on strategies that they could utilize to promote positive communication between teachers and parents about students.

Branding a school takes communication to a new level. Colleges, universities, and private institutions who must compete for students to stay alive have already figured this out. In a recent Higher Education Marketing Blog, Suzannah Brittan offered schools five practical tips to consider:

  1. Understand How Your School’s Brand Can Inspire (and Repel) Prospective Students
  2. Align Your School’s Brand Identity with Your Audience’s Preferences
  3. Ensure Consistent Brand Elements Across all Marketing Channels
  4. Incorporate Your Community & History into Your School Branding
  5. Look Critically at the Brand Identity of Competing Schools

In this Edsurge article, Ross Cooper and Tony Sinanis write, “When it comes to telling your school’s story, it’s easy to cast the net wide and be satisfied with families having a general idea of what’s going on. But with all of the resources, tools, and ideas we now have at our disposal, there is no reason why we can’t do better.” They add their own set of tips:

  1. Develop a creative meet the teacher night introductory video
  2. Post live or recorded video updates on social media
  3. Share social media posts with daily photographs
  4. Host a curriculum night
  5. Host a family fun night like a BINGO event and then use intermission for school commercials.

Regardless of your resources, there is no reason you can’t develop a comprehensive plan to brand your school. You’ll find that doing so raises engagement with parents, students, and other stakeholders in your school community.

This article was written originally for Multibriefs Education.

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