It’s woven in every aspect of modern daily life, but branding isn’t new to the scene. Archeologists found branded wine casks in the ancient ruins of Pompeii. The legacy brand, Quaker Oats, turned what was cattle feed into a successful breakfast staple. In the next decade, Amazon’s Alexa and her virtual assistant buddies, Cortina and Bixby are poised to be the homey brand face of Artificial Intelligence that will connect every aspect of our domestic lives. So, finally seeing the brand conversation bubble up in the education space isn’t a surprise. It’s actually a bit overdue.

If you are associated with a school in any way–as a leader, educator, staff member, student, parent, community member or potential co-business education partner–you need to be talking about branding your school now. Here are five reasons why:

1. No More Ivory Tower

It used to be that schools were masters at one-way communication and controlled the information sent to their community and stakeholders. However, now the internet has introduced our schools to “engagement” and “user experience.”

The way to create informed, loyal educational communities is to collaboratively create a school brand and understand how to promote it. A community of stakeholders can co-exist around a recognized and valued core mission that gives the school experience power.

In the age of the internet, a unifying brand presence can be shared with the world outside of the school door. In a brand mindset, the community grows in an exchange as it opens up to empowering relationships within the community and across the globe. The ivory tower crumbles.

2. Think Telling, Not Selling

Today’s business brands live through their unifying digital and social media narrative. School brand isn’t about the business of sales and profit. Rather than selling, schools need to be telling.

By sharing what they know to be the stories of school excellence, schools push perception of their identity beyond a label of a single test score. As leading educator, Yong Zhao, Ph.D., Foundation Distinguished Professor explains, modern, innovative educators must stand up for their ideas and actions instead of being judged and branded by external agencies using standardized measures.

3. Every School Needs a Promise

Schools today are part of a new, competitive environment of school choice and limited resources. Attracting dedicated stakeholders is now part of a school plan. Taking on a brand mindset raises a school’s voice in a larger community of educational opportunities.

A brand promise is about persuading. Schools who strategically brand lose their typical humble educator demeanor and communicate with authenticity power. The brand promise leads to new relationships and resources. Bragging rights only used for extra curricular activities are now elevated as messages of promise to the community.

Every school needs to define its promise to reflect the unique value the school brings. With the knowledge of what your school does differently, the promise of what the school delivers is clear. As advertisers say, having a well-defined promise is “the reason to believe” for any brand loyal community.

(Next page: School brand for a different world; digital leadership)

About the Author:

Trish Rubin is the founder of Trish Rubin Ltd., a communications consultancy based in New York City and co-author of BrandED: Tell Your Story, Build Relationships, and Empower Learning. A self-described “educationalist,” she has worked as a K-16 teacher, reading specialist, literacy coach, program developer, and central office administrator and now as an advocate for schools. For more information, please visit www.trishrubin.com and connect with her on Twitter, @trishrubin.


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