Is your school’s brand doing everything you want it to do? Does it resonate with prospective families, alumni and current families? Does it spark the kind of emotional connection you need it to?
If your brand feels stale and doesn’t reflect your school’s current image, it’s time for a brand refresh. It’s not always necessary to completely rebrand. Sometimes all you need to do is update or refresh to instill new life and excitement into your brand and your school’s image.
If your school needs a complete repositioning, though, then it might be time to rebrand.
But how do you tell the difference?
Before you decide what to do, you need a clear understanding of exactly what we mean by brand. Most people think a brand is the name and logo of an organization or institution, but it is far more than that. It is the sum total of visual, psychological and emotional associations with your school.
Refresh or rebrand, the strategy is the same. Follow these six strategic steps to ensure that your brand refresh or rebrand hits the mark with your internal and external communities:
1. Research Your Target Audience.
For a refresh, review and compare demographics and behaviors of your current audience and target audiences; get messaging and appearance feedback from your board, current parents, students, alumni; and review any recent market research.
For a complete rebrand, new and in-depth market research is the essential first step. You need to know what your market wants and values — and how people perceive your school — before developing new messaging. Spend the time and resources, it’s worth it!
2. Analyze Your Competition.
Review your competition’s marketing materials (e.g.website and digital/social presence) then compare your findings, charting your competitors’ vs. your school’s positioning and messaging. What are the key discoveries, best practices and takeaways?
- Brand definition – look at both short and long descriptions
- Taglines and key messages
- Logos/colors/typefaces/visual assets
- Key differentiators and proof points
- Thought leadership and content marketing
3. Develop Your Brand Positioning.
A positioning statement, based on market research, conveys what you do or say to whom and how you uniquely solve their urgent need or create value.
4. Create Your Brand Essence.
This is the two- to three-word phrase (typically in the format “adjective, adjective, noun,” such as “trusted, cutting-edge leader”) that captures the “heart and soul” of your brand. Determining your school’s phrase helps you know what does and does not fit with the brand.
5. Developing Your Messaging Platform.
Your messaging platform articulates and organizes different themes in support of the brand positioning but targets your various audiences to create key messages. This internal document is the strategic guideline for all communications, answering:
- Who is [YOUR SCHOOL]?
- Why choose [YOUR SCHOOL]?
- What makes [YOUR SCHOOL] unique?
- How does [YOUR SCHOOL] differ from your competitors?
This is NOT the creative campaign, tagline or website copy but the foundation for marketing copy.
6. Create Your Brand Identity.
This is a combination of your name, logo, tagline and the tone of your brand — including images, colors and typefaces clearly articulated in your brand guidelines. Refresh or rebrand, educate your entire internal community on your new identity. Make sure that every touch point is updated with your new assets. Consistency is key.
Download our free guide, Refresh vs. Rebrand?, packed with expert tips and best practices to make sure that you are getting the most from your school’s brand.
Kalix Marketing has the expertise to help you refresh or rebrand and everything in between. We’d be happy to discuss your school’s unique situation and recommend a specially tailored course of action to help you move forward. Give us a shout!
Donna Balinki is Marketing Strategy Lead for Kalix Marketing.
Learn more about brand marketing for your school here!