School branding goes far beyond logos, school colors and brochures. Your school’s voice, mission, website, social media, student interactions, athletics, academic standing, faculty and staff, etc., are all part of your brand because each one contributes to the students’ overall perception of your school. However, just because you have an established brand doesn’t mean that the perception of your brand can’t change.
In the evolving educational landscape, students’ expectations have changed. Does your brand still carry the weight it once did? Is your school appealing to changing student demographics? There are many reasons why a school might look at rebranding their public image. Just because you update how your message is distributed to the world doesn’t mean the institution can’t stay rooted in its core values and offerings. If you are beginning to look critically at your school’s brand, here are three areas where you should evaluate your school’s performance.
3 questions to ask about your school’s brand
- What messages does your school’s current brand impart?
Look at your school’s media and public image. What message would a student see if they Google you? What are current students saying about their experience with your school? Today’s students are digital natives — meaning they have grown up using technology and are maybe more comfortable online than in person. They can be skeptical about claims they see companies and schools making online and judgmental of how your sites looks and functions. They can spot a good website site from a bad one. They expect an easy and intuitive experience online and will leave sites that don’t meet those expectations. They also seek out and read reviews that will influence their opinion about your school without ever setting foot on your campus.
That’s why it’s important to keep your branding up to date. Chances are a student isn’t only going to look to your site for information about your school, especially if it is hard to find. Look at the big picture of the message that is available about your school. Is it the one you want? Will it continue to attract students or does it make your school sound like it is behind the times.
- In your school, which areas would you like to see growth?
Every organization or company has areas they would like to improve. Schools aren’t different. Maybe you would like to recruit more nontraditional students; maybe you want to streamline course materials or boost campus dining sales. Identify the areas that it would benefit your school to improve and then look at the branding around those areas. The areas that provide a clear value proposition to the students will help improve their impression of the overall service you provide.
Once you know the areas you want to change, you can look at each critically. Can the process be easier for students? Do students know the service is available? Develop a plan to address the core issues and implement the changes that will improve the student experience and keep your school current.
- What are the negative aspects of your current branding?
Sometimes it is easier to focus on the things your brand is doing well rather than the places it may fall short. However, when evaluating the effectiveness of your school’s brand, look for the weakest areas. Changing elements that trigger negative perceptions will clarify your message and increase your brand’s appeal.
Take a look at the brand Burberry. This high-end, luxury brand became a status symbol for gang members across England. The problem escalated to the point that businesses started to ban people from wearing the brand in their establishments. The brand Burberry hadn’t changed, but the way people viewed it did. When the company addressed the issue, they didn’t change the prices, the look or the quality of the Burberry brand. Instead, they started an aggressive, successful campaign to change the way the public viewed the brand and attract a different customer base.
Branding is important, but it isn’t static. Finding ways to be adaptable and fluid while still promoting your school’s core values will carry your school into the future. Amazon is an incredible example of this in practice. From their humble beginnings as a book company to their continued expansion across multiple industries, Amazon has never abandoned their core goal of being customer-centric. While their branding has changed in many ways throughout the years, that central message has held firm.