[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on July 27th of this year, was our #3 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2018 countdown!]
No one is great at everything, but everyone is great at something. These 10 school districts identified why their district is awesome, then structured everything they do around it to produce a noteworthy brand. Let’s take a peek into their worlds and identify some methods K–12 districts are using to build a great brand.
First, a quick note: I have not worked for nor do I live near these districts. My perceptions as a complete outsider only serve as testament to the strength of the branding we’ll showcase. If a total stranger can understand your brand without ever visiting, you’ve probably nailed your social media and website messaging.
1. Camas (WA) School District
Brand differentiator: We are all about student experiences.
It’s a great sign to land on a district homepage with glowing testimonials from families. The district really showcases its dedication to sustainability and community pride on their website, and the welcoming brand extends to a YouTube channel that greets viewers with an enchanting depiction of edtech journeys.
2. Wayzata Public Schools (MN)
Brand differentiator: Excellence for every student.
What stands out immediately about Wayzata’s digital presence is the deliberate use of inclusive imagery and messaging. They depict diversity in multiple ways on their website, in social media, and in local publications. It’s all supported by tons of information about how the district is structured, funded, constructed, and more. Their transparency is staggering and captivating; you’ll be invested in learning more about the ways of the Wayzata community. There’s even a specific microsite for community education and outreach. Use #trojanpride or #wearewayzata.
3. Castleberry (TX) Independent School District (ISD)
Brand differentiator: Libraries are the best!
How inspirational is it to see a district website offer a list of their libraries literally front and center on their homepage? Each library, connected to a school in the district, has a page to share their offerings (which include much more than books and periodicals). Exploring further, visitors will find an interactive district map, timely news updates, a website easy to navigate by persona, and much more. Use #castleberryisd + individual school hashtags.
4. Deer Lakes (PA) School District
Brand differentiator: Communication, collaboration, and community are our core values.
It’s immediately clear the leaders at Deer Lakes care what their community has to say. Their website devotes ample space to showcasing activities by sharing events, social media posts, and a link to a community climate survey. If their current level of transparency is any indication, we could check back later to see the results when they’re shared. Use #DLproud.
5. Kankakee (IL) School District 111
Brand differentiator: We have a global vision for all students.
The centerpiece of this district’s brand among news, school info, and events on their website is a video: One Community, One District, One Vision, for All Children. (A nice tie in to the 111 in their name!) Under the main district site, community information is showcased for a variety of programs, learning options, and organizations. Each individual school has a microsite as well.
6. Kent (WA) School District
Brand differentiator: We appreciate our community and we’ll hold up our end of the deal.
One of the most striking components of this district’s messaging is the thanks they offer to the community for a recently approved levy. They are actively proving community voters won’t be disappointed in their choice and are even getting students involved in their message of appreciation for the community’s action. Another corner of the site offers a form where families can share testimonials, and the district Twitter feed is engaging as well. Use #TeamKSD415, #KSDproud, or #KSDcommunity, respectively, for educators, students, and community.
7. Grand Prairie (TX) ISD
Brand differentiator: We stand out by offering choice.
Grand Prairie’s options for students truly shine—by design. The district’s messaging centers around their Kaleidoscope School Programs of Choice, offering kids different rigorous educational paths depending on their interests. Another point of pride, the Kid Magic Awards, recognizes outstanding teachers for the engaging effect they have in classrooms. A well-curated YouTube channel shares videos of district events and day-to-day information. Use #IamGPISD.
8. Coeur d’Alene (ID) Public Schools
Brand differentiator: We keep culture and people at the heart of everything we do.
Simply glance at this district’s digital presence and you’ll get a good idea of what’s important to their leaders: student experiences! Their social channels and website are people-centric, sharing images of school events and curating posts with district hashtags. Their culture also shines through transparency as the district shares discussions of budget numbers, news about recent student demonstrations including walkouts, and videos of school board meetings on their YouTube channel. Use #WeAre271 or #271pride.
9. Mooresville (IN) Schools
Brand differentiator: We build kids’ futures on a rich history of education.
District leaders dive right in, breaking down their mission, vision, values, culture, and goals and sharing them word-for-word to set the stage for clear communication. Peeking a little further into the district’s points of pride, over a century of local education is represented. They share their drive to improve while staying connected to these deep roots. Use #BeMOORE.
10. Fall Creek (WI) School District
Brand differentiator: We are a family.
It’s no surprise (but it’s still a delight) to explore excellent digital media created by Fall Creek School District—their superintendent literally wrote the book on school district branding. The Crickets of Fall Creek have their own app, a video all about what makes them great, and once kids are almost big enough for pre-K, everyone is invited to a community birthday party to introduce them to school for the first time. Use #gocrickets.
If you’re wondering how to get the word out about the outstanding things your district is doing today and every day, I’ll leave you with the words of Dr. Joe Sanfelippo (#gocrickets): “Find your audience. Build your brand. Celebrate kids.”
You know what to do next. 🎉
Follow-up resource: Branding your website
Take a look at The EdTech Playbook: The District Website to get a little insight into branding your digital channels.
- The academic implications of AI in student writing - December 1, 2023
- 6 tips for communicating with emergent bilingual families - November 29, 2023
- How to find the right edtech tools for public schools - November 29, 2023