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Branding Your School - 10 Key Benefits

There are countless benefits to building a strong private school brand. Whether you are a new private school setting up a brand or an existing school doing rebranding, it is important to think about the benefits and outcomes in advance. This will help you get motivated to do the work, and operate strategically.

There are countless benefits to building a strong private school brand. Whether you are a new private school setting up a brand or an existing school doing rebranding, it is important to think about the benefits and outcomes in advance. This will help you get motivated to do the work, and operate strategically.

Private School Branding - 10 Benefits

1. Helps build brand awareness - As you know, most private schools do not have the same level of name recognition as public and private universities in the U.S. In fact, if you ask someone to name a few top boarding schools or even a handful of local private schools, they could be at a loss.

A strong brand builds local, regional, and sometimes even national awareness. If you are a local private school, then the reach can be more localized; however, for boarding schools, they often need to have regional and national reach.

Think about it this way; if people have heard about you, seen your brand, or know other alumni from your school, then this awareness helps them narrow down their search for the right school. Ultimately, it is up to every school to help shift perceptions and inform the public about the private schools in general, as well build awareness of their own brand.

2. Branding builds your reputation as an expert. Creating and building a brand with clear messaging helps you establish your school as a “thought leader” in the field of education. If you want to increase the likelihood of prospective families contacting the office of admission, then it is imperative to demonstrate educational expertise aligned with your brand messaging.

In essence, your brand tells a story about where your expertise lies. For example, if you employ the Harkness method and see this as core to your brand, then all marketing platforms should speak to this approach. Writing blogs and email newsletters, as well doing related posts on social media, all support your website presence and expertise on key topics.

In this case, information should be used to reinforce the brand identity as a school that creates a supportive student-centered environment, one that requires students to engage in active discourse and critical thinking. In coordination, your website tagline, academic headers and web page content would express this pedagogical approach.

If this process of applyng messaging sounds complex, remember that once you have a content direction established through a brand style guide, repurposing content gets much easier. It will actually save time, money, and resources. So remember, don’t keep reinventing your brand messaging. Do it once, do it well, document key content, and repurpose.

3. Brand clarity establishes value. With private school tuition ranging broadly in the United States, prospective families will not only compare your school’s tuition to other private schools, they will also ask about the value and return-on-investment.

Across the U.S. many private schools charge tuition that is the equivalent of colleges and universities. As accessibility and affordablity enter into convesations, think about why families should invest in a private elementary, middle, or high school education. For this reason, independent schools must send the message they can deliver outcomes to demonstrate the tuition investment is worthwhile. If you do this well, clients will appreciate the value of the education offered at your school and be more willing to pay the price of your school’s tuition without qualms. Customer satisfaction results in positive reviews, more referrals, and higher retention.

4. Branding leads to referrals. As almost every admission professional knows, one of the key drivers of enrollment should come by way of referrals from current/former families, students, and alumni. If your school delivers on what your brand promises, your constituents will send referrals to your school. They will talk about your school to friends, families, and neighbors and this will stimulate new inquiries and enrollments.

In reality, this makes the journey far easier for prospects and instills confidence in your brand. Think about it. Who wouldn’t prefer to learn about a school first hand, versus through search and advertising channels? Rally for referrals.

5. Branding helps generate positive reviews and comments. If people know who you are, what you do, and have experienced a positive educational outcome, they are far more inclined to write a positive review or comment on the various platforms.

Remember, as part of the journey, families often check various websites, including: Boarding School Review, Private School Review, Niche, Great Schools, and various social media channels. The journey often begins and/or ends by checking reviews before a prospect even inquires, applies, or visits private schools. So, don’t overlook the importance of how a brand is reflected and reinforced by audience commentary. Generate more reviews.

6. Branding creates consistency. A brand style guide allows both internal faculty/staff and outside service providers to use design and messaging in a consistent and uniform manner. The guide takes the guesswork out of design and content creation for school websites, literature systems, email newsletter templates, search engine marketing ads, social media ads, referral/review sites, promotional items, and much more.

Let’s take a concrete example to illustrate this point; a tennis coach needs to order some new t-shirts for the team. By referring to the brand style guide and consulting with marketing, it will ensure proper use of the school logo, fonts, color schemes, and messaging. This provides consistency and builds brand redundancy in all that you do. It may seem like a small thing to print some school apparel, but think about how many people will see that t-shirt during tennis matches. Ramp up recruitment and retention.

7. Branding helps cultivate a pipeline of mission-appropriate applicants. When prospective families view your website, you want to draw them in immediately. They will get an impression from the visuals and overarching messaging they view online.

Keep in mind, prospects are trying to quickly surmise whether you are a good fit based on your content (e.g. coed or single gender, grade levels, type of educational approach). In addition, if you catch their attention, their journey will not stop there.

They will dive deeper online, often checking out your mission, values, philosophy, class offerings, electives, sport offerings, extracurricular programs, and campus facilities.

As the journey unfolds, keep your end goal in sight; schools must ultimately motivate prospects to contact the Office of Admission. If your content does not grab them, they are less likely to call, schedule a tour, and apply.

Mastering the art of storytelling is key as it allows schools to share personal stories of student development and achievement.. As pointed out by Cursive Content, there are some master storytellers in the private schools sector, as pointed out in their article about four schools and how they implement content marketing.

8. Branding builds internal morale and confidence. Branding serves not only an external process, but an internal one as well. There is nothing that drives internal morale better than strong leadership. So think about your brand as a leader, one that establishes a clear vision and direction for your school.

The brand will take the lead to inform internal initiatives. It will provide your board, school head, and directors with essential internal personnel tools. Branding has the potential to boost morale and also provides the framework so everyone is speaking in one voice. If people can see who you are and what you do, it will also help attract new faculty and staff aligned with the brand. Take your team to the next level.

9. Branding allows schools to expand offerings and programs. If your brand has built a loyalty, you will have a built-in audience for new programs and offerings.

Schools are ever-changing, especially now, so think about how your branding can support new or future directions. Evaluate every program or offering from this perspective: academic classes (in-person and online), electives, clubs, trips, weekend activities, summer programs, facility rentals, and public events (e.g. workshops, lectures, parades, performances). Some schools have even created satellitte schools or used their brand to set up schools abroad. This is the power of branding and a way to maximize it.

10. Branding supports sustainability. If your school is concerned about sustainability, then delivery of your brand promise, will be key to your future. It will inform everything you do on campus from academics, athletics, campus life, to admissions, marketing, development, capital expenditures, and master planning. It will build brand awareness through word-of-mouth, and help your school grow and develop over time.

In conclusion, now that you know some of the key benefits of branding, hopefully you are now highly motivated to do whatever it takes to build a strong brand and sustain it. Now you are ready to do your research, find out answers to frequently asked questions, and seek out assistance.

While some schools have very limited budgets and they do the branding process internally, it is usually wise to use an outside agency whenever possible. There are some small very affordable agencies that can help you with the full process, as well as large agencies. Some agencies work exclusively with private schools, while others work with private schools, nonprofits, and businesses. Now is the time to take the next step. Your brand cannot wait.

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