6 Proven Tips to Build a Strong School Brand and Attain a Competitive Advantage
It is not just businesses and products that need strong branding so that consumers appreciate them. School brand identity is crucial, too. These days, students and parents “shop” for educational institutions online like other products and services. It is important that your school has a firm brand that communicates its values and objectives and resonates with potential applicants.
In this post, we will present effective school branding strategies you can use to embed a particular image of your educational institution into the minds of your target audience.
How Will Your School Benefit from a Strong Brand?
Entrepreneur defines brand as a promise that a product or a service gives to its customers, while Investopedia states brand comprises product features such as design, packaging, advertisement, etc., that help consumers distinguish it from competitors. The slightly adjusted definition, where “product” is substituted with “school” and “consumers” with “students,” applies to the educational sector.
A school brand encompasses unique differentiators, mission statements, visual identity, as well as marketing strategy, all of which serve a single purpose—to attract prospective students and teachers. Moreover, a carefully established school identity is crucial if you want your educational institution to stand out from competitors, offline and online, and increase student enrollment and potential teaching staff engagement. In the long run, it is a strong brand that gives your school a solid reputation and trustworthiness.
6 Steps to Build a Strong School Brand
Define Your School’s Target Audience
Before implementing your school branding ideas, you should consider who you are creating the brand for. In other words, you need to define the key target audience for your branding and marketing efforts. Why? Because marketing to different audiences using the same message is not effective.
Typically, educational institutions aim for the attention of these audiences:
- potential job applicants (teaching staff)
- potential students.
You can further narrow any of these groups into specific segments (parents of children ages 5-7 years old or teachers specializing in specific subjects, etc.) to tailor more personalized messages for each. When planning a marketing campaign, it is recommended to divide user cohorts into smaller groups, for example, by geography, demographic, or interests.
Every brand promise you communicate should align with the interests of the chosen target audience and arouse their emotional engagement.
Specify What Differentiates Your School from Competitors
A strong brand identity cannot be created without a clear differentiation from competitors. Think of your school’s unique qualities and strengths that make it an ideal choice for your target audience. Some examples of these “intangibles” include a longtime reputation, prestige, academic offerings, and the best state-of-the-art staff, considered differentiators of the Ivy League universities or some international schools.
While singling out your school differentiators, pay attention to what your competitors, especially in the same neighbourhood, present as theirs. Try not to repeat trite phrases like “highly qualified teachers,” “innovative teaching methods,” or “adaptable educational framework” because they don’t help your audience discern your educational institution.
Think of what makes your school special: maybe you nurture lifetime learners, promote equality, or preach group learning. Be open and honest because when students and parents expose the mismatch in your school’s brand identity, they turn away forever.
Formulate Your School Mission, Vision, and Values
You cannot establish a strong school brand if you do not have your mission, vision, and core values described. These three components form a beacon of your school brand and help you answer the questions, “Why does our school exist?” and “What are the core values that we bring to the world?” The answers to these questions need to resonate with your target audiences and help them form an emotional bond with your school.
A mission statement is a laconic motto describing what your school does and its key objectives. A vision statement specifies how your school aspires to meet the objectives in the long run. Here are a few school branding examples of mission and vision statements:
“Morley Victoria school will provide for all staff and pupils the OPPORTUNITY and ENCOURAGEMENT to be able to ENJOY school and be SUCCESSFUL.”
“Our vision for Farndon Primary School reflects a passionate commitment to learning and recognition of the uniqueness of individual learners.”
“Kennington Primary School‘s mission is to deliver an exciting curriculum, tailored to the needs of every child in school, which not only nurtures their interests but encourages them to take risks in a safe and supportive environment.”
Design Visuals for Your School Brand
When discussing brand identity, graphic designs come to mind first. You probably already have the basics of your school design concept, including logos, school colours, fonts, colour schemes, and secondary colour palettes. If you still do not have one, work with a design agency to produce an attractive school visual image.
Stick to the chosen visual identity at all times and on all occasions, be it banners in the school halls, your website/social media design, or such seemingly minor elements as newsletters design and staff email signatures. Visual consistency is the key to being recognised by competitors.
Ensure Your School Brand is Represented Consistently Across All Media
Consistency forms the basis of your school branding efforts. It is vital that you use the same rhetoric, tone of voice, and visual identity across all of your communication platforms (e.g., school website, social media, newsletters, third-party media, etc.). This consistency is sometimes hard to maintain, especially if multiple people are involved in your marketing activities.
Your branding may benefit from unified style guides. A style guide will help you combine all of your branding assets in a single place and communicate them internally so whoever joins a marketing team is aware of your identity. Your school branding style guide may be available online, on a dedicated intranet page, or in a cloud storage.
Incorporate Branding into Your Marketing Strategy
Whatever school branding ideas you implement, they should at all times align with the overall marketing strategy. All marketing materials need to be designed following a chosen tone of voice and unified identity so that you can use them, for instance, for social media advertising campaigns. These campaigns may run on platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (X).
Social media advertising is more effective than old-fashioned marketing methods, such as newspaper ads or school Open Days. Targeted campaigns streamline your recruiting efforts, increase school brand awareness, and enable you to meet prospective candidates where they are. It is vital to maintain your school’s branded aesthetic while running ad campaigns so that potential job applicants can visually distinguish your school brand from competitors.
How soccialy Can Help Your School Brand
If your school is taking the first steps in branding or you already have a firmly established brand, you can use it in social media. Advertising on platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook will help your school attract the best teaching talent, streamlining the recruitment process.
As a social media advertising platform and consultancy for schools, soccialy was created to meet the specific needs of the education sector. With over 30 years of experience in marketing and education recruitment, soccialy will help you use your school brand as a hiring benefit. We enable schools to close open vacancies quicker and more cost-effectively compared to traditional advertising approaches. Book a free 30-minute call today!
What is a school brand?
Broadly speaking, a school brand is a set of elements associated with the educational institution, including mission and values, design, marketing assets, etc., that form a particular image in the minds of its target audience. The main purpose of a school brand is to differentiate it from competitors.
What makes a strong school brand?
A strong school brand cannot be established quickly; it takes time and effort. The key elements of a strong brand include the brand promise, position statement, and visual representation.
Why is branding important for schools?
Branding helps schools establish trustworthiness and a firm reputation among existing and prospective students and teachers and stand out from competitors through distinctive elements, such as school mission and purpose statements, visual identity, and marketing features.