Private school branding: It’s a game for the pros now

by | Nov 17, 2022

How to build a memorable school branding strategy

In my professional lifetime, the marketing efforts of private schools have evolved from basic graphics designed by students or school staff to carefully crafted branding strategies. Here, in sunny South Florida, school branding has reached epic proportions, with primary schools branding like national universities. So, if your school branding is still in its infancy, this blog is for you.

What is a school branding strategy?

A branding strategy simply means you’ve defined the following: your ideal target, the needs you intend to fulfill for them, and the steps you’ll be taking to build your brand. If you’re a school, this means you’re focusing on the type of students and families you want to attract, the promises you plan to deliver on, and the communication tools you’ll be using.

What’s the big deal about school branding?

Every year, new parents who choose private school education for their children must make a choice. And given the importance of their child’s education and the amount of money they’ll be investing, they aren’t going to be making that decision the day before school starts. They will likely take months or even years to make their choice.

So, who will they choose? A school they know little to nothing about or a school they are familiar with? The answer is simple, isn’t it? Schools who have built a recognizable brand and established a good reputation will be the ones to receive the lion’s share of their attention. Think about it. We choose what we wear, eat, or where we vacation based on branding. It makes sense parents would use a similar strategy when choosing a school.

This makes school branding a big deal. Having clarity on your value proposition, building a positive social media presence, establishing a robust website, and crafting solid print marketing materials is smart business. This clarity of message, and integrated marketing approach, (web, social, and print) is how branding helps parents choose your school over any other.

Why school branding?

Because it makes future enrollment easier. Because without a well-established brand, your school will look and feel like every other school. Because branding helps parents know if your school fits them and their views. Because differentiation helps parents compare and choose the best school for their children.

How to get started on a school brand

First and foremost, you must have buy-in from all the decision-makers in your school, from the superintendent and principal to the teachers and support staff. Everyone who is in contact with students and parents needs to feel an authentic commitment to your school’s branding strategy. Not only does this provide consistency in communication, but everyone will then become genuine ambassadors for your school and its values.

Five Steps to Creating a School Branding Strategy

  1. Define your positioning.
    Your school’s positioning strategy seeks to answer three simple questions: who is the ideal parent or family you wish to attract, what things are most valuable to them, and how your school is uniquely qualified to offer those things.
  2. Differentiate your school.
    A differentiator is a specific benefit, a guarantee, or an offer your school promises. Differentiators should be unique or conveyed in a way that feels unique. They are used to help parents determine how your school is different than any other. The best differentiators for a school are those that are easy to own and defend as true.
  3. Craft your visual language.
    Visual language provides memory shortcuts. It helps parents easily remember who you are, what you look like, and your values as a school. Your logo, school mascot, school colors, typography, icons, and images are all important tools for establishing your visual language.
  4. Establish your school’s voice, tone, and style.
    Voice: your school’s beliefs and values
    Tone: how you state your beliefs and values (spiritual, warm, dynamic, aspirational, or some other)
    Style: your voice and tone combined
    All together, these three elements form your school’s personality.
  5. Create clarity, commitment, and consistency.
    It may seem obvious, but clarity is essential to building a school’s branding strategy. Clarity makes a commitment to that strategy for your school’s ambassadors much easier. And for everyone’s sake, especially parents in decision-making mode, your school must stay consistent in its branding over years, not months. If you would like to learn more about branding your school, visit 5 things to remember as you are branding your business.

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Ready to build, refocus, or clarify your school’s brand?

We would love to talk with you! Schedule a free 30-minute call with us. We can answer some of your questions and share ideas. After the call, we can craft a plan to dive deeper into your brand strategy.

Daisho Creative Strategies is headquartered in Miami, Florida and focuses its work on branding, website design, and website management. For over 20 years, we’ve helped create or refresh brands for nonprofits, for profit businesses and private schools.