How to Create a Successful School Branding Strategy

successful school brand experience

It’s no secret that schools in the education sector are in fierce competition to attract and retain talented students. Logically, students and their parents will only consider schools that promise them a bright future that fits their goals and gets them where they want to go. 

This means that school branding has never been more critical. Today, schools must communicate their values and highlight their unique advantages to differentiate themselves from others. However, this can’t be done without a successful branding strategy that creates a sense of trust, belonging, and purpose in the community.

That’s not an easy task, but it’s achievable. We’ve created the roadmap for it here.

First, Let’s Define Brand

A brand is not simply your school name or logo. It is also about the feeling and impression your school leaves in people’s minds and hearts when they see the school’s logo or name.

Specifically, a brand fosters relationships and engagement with students and the school community, shares short- and long-term goals, and develops a sense of responsibility and purpose for the school. A brand encompasses the principles, culture, and character that set your school apart.

It’s about expressing identity and message consistent across all platforms (school website, Facebook, etc.), an image that resonates with people and gives them a sense of belonging.

Why Is Branding Important for Schools?

Whether your website visitors or social media followers are potential students, parents, or teachers, they want to know if they are a good fit for the school. Does the school’s educational philosophy match its values? Your school branding can answer that very question and set your brand apart.

Effective school branding goes a long way toward recruiting top talent, building trust with parents, and making everyone feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Successful school branding can help:

Establish Trust

The key to outstanding branding is to make a clear statement and communicate it successfully. People are more likely to trust you if they clearly understand your school’s mission and values. This is critical to recruiting new students and developing a sense of community.

Set Yourself Apart

When trying to present your school to parents and students, there is always competition, which will only increase over time. So you need to stand out from the competition and get their attention. They are more likely to remember your school, what it stands for, and how it differs from the other alternatives if your message is consistent and unique.

Find the Right Mix of Students & Staff

Part of your school’s brand and reputation goes back to the existing staff, teachers, and student body. Logically, you look for people who fit your school’s values and thrive in that environment. With clear and consistent branding, you can demonstrate the mix of people you want for the school.

Create a Sense of Purpose

Successful branding allows people to build an emotional connection to the school. It gives students a sense that your school is where they belong and can proudly call home.

This sense of belonging and togetherness carries over to staff as well. Teachers can be strong brand advocates when they align with your school’s vision and values.

Get the Word of Mouth Going

Nothing can advertise your school brand better than incorporating parent testimonials into your messaging. In addition, presenting a familiar, trusting identity across your school website, social media channels, and marketing efforts can ease your path to success.


13 Steps to an Effective School Branding Strategy

The level of care you put into branding can work for or against your school’s success. It determines the first impression people have of your school and makes you seem like an amateur or a top-notch system. Here are 13 steps to showcase your school’s brand:

#1 Set Up a Team

Who will be in charge of developing and implementing your school’s branding strategy? This should undoubtedly include members of the school board and a reputable website service provider. However, it should also involve the admin staff and faculty. It’s best to put some time into finding the right people who are passionate about your school’s vision and a reliable team that has a successful track record of school branding.

#2 Define Your Brand Values

The second step in brand development is to identify your unique brand values. At this stage, it is critical to solicit employee feedback on questions such as “What are your concerns and goals?” After collecting feedback, reaching a consensus on your school’s mission and values is critical. You can even have a brainstorming session with the brand strategy team and prioritize your values. Get their input and comments to find the perfect description for your school.

brand value

#3 Come Up with a Fitting Tagline

A tagline is a catchy phrase that sums up the essence of your brand. It must sound familiar to potential and current students, parents, and teachers. You should pack the entire message of the tagline into fewer than eight words. Otherwise, it becomes a bit watery and cliché.

For example, South Decatur Jr/Sr High school came up with a three-word slogan, “We Are South,” that conveys a sense of pride and unity.

#4 Live Up to Brand Promises

Your brand promise indicates the experience you will offer people. For example, Revlon promises its customers that they will “Feel Like a Woman,” or M&M says their products “Melt in your Mouth, not in your Hands.”

The promise has to be genuine and show your school’s purpose. What is the experience you want people to have? Is it access to quality education at a reasonable price? Is it a place that brings people from different communities together? Is it a platform that prepares students for excellent career opportunities? Find the goal that resonates the most with you and stick to it.

Step 4 is consistently showing and living your brand’s beliefs in everything you do. Every action you take within the school should be consistent with your core brand values. Consistency shows that people can always count on you to meet their expectations. If people feel your actions and words do not match, it will hurt your school’s brand.

#5 Build Your School Website & Social Media Channels

No school can survive without a strong online presence in this tech-driven era. Nothing demonstrates mediocrity more than a low-ranking website or a social media account with nothing posted in the last three months.

Whether you’re building, revamping, or refining your school’s brand, know that website optimization and social media engagement are critical because they can help ensure your message is easily understood, and your brand is known.

#6 Observe the Existing Brand

The colors, symbols, and tone of communication in your school already reveal the essence of your brand. Ask yourself, what image are we conveying with our current brand? Is there anything we can change? In most cases, the answer is clearly yes. 

You don’t have to make drastic changes because even a small adjustment to your tagline, logo, and messaging can have a significant impact. If you’re unhappy with your current school brand, it’s time to change.

create brand visuals

#7 Use Visuals to Create an Identity

This is the exciting, creative phase that most people associate with branding. This is where the message you’ve established is translated into visual components.

Design logos, color palettes, and sub-brands in different formats and designs. You need to create a look and feel that’s consistent with the school’s values and makes it clear what you stand for. So you can’t just skip the previous steps and start with this one. You also need a design framework to figure out which areas need to be changed:

  • Font: We all know that people react differently to different fonts. Arial and Times New Roman, for example, create different feelings, as one looks modern and the other traditional. 
  • Layouts: Just because you want to incorporate colors into the school’s brand doesn’t mean you have to pack the school logo and website with colors and shapes unless you run a kindergarten. On most school websites, a simple, uncluttered page looks more appealing.
  • Photos & Videos: Choose photos and videos that match your brand identity. For example, if you promote diversity and inclusion, choose images that reflect those values. Or, if you offer special sports scholarship programs, you can post videos and photos of your school teams lifting trophies.

Most accredited schools have a logo, but there is usually the option to revise these brand aspects based on your institution’s development. If you have difficulty deciding on a name, consider short, easy-to-remember, spell, and pronounce names that define what you do. A school logo must be distinctive, engaging, and meaningful. It should convey your brand’s identity aesthetically and emotionally.

#9 Establish a Distinct Voice

Maintaining a consistent tone in all interactions with students, staff, parents, and the whole community is essential. All school members need to use a consistent tone of voice to influence the customer experience because the tone of voice says a lot about how you treat or respect clients. That goes hand in hand with the next step.

#10 Design a General Branding Guide

Once you’ve decided on an overall design and a design partner to take care of your logo, website, and social media, you now need to ensure coherence. To that end, you or your design partner should develop a branding guide for all school staff.

The branding guide should cover graphic design elements such as font, color schemes, logo usage, layout, and dimensions. As we mentioned earlier in this article, a brand is nothing without consistency. Therefore, each element is just as important as your school’s name. 

You need a general guideline for branding because many people in different departments will use the brand, and going it alone would lead to inconsistency.

engage your community

#11 Actively Engage with Your Community

When you build a school brand that resonates with parents and students, they want to be a part of it and share the story. You can turn these people into avid advocates of the brand by actively communicating with them. Why? Because by becoming accessible and familiar, you go from an impersonal institution to a community where people can easily express their thoughts and grow side by side.

#12 Identify the Unique Points

There are indeed some positive points that set your school apart from others. Identify them–and include them in your brand message. You can use stories, facts, and even statistics to get these points across in a way that’s super easy to remember. 

Don’t settle for the home page, either. Showcase the positives in your social media, videos, photos, and even offline. That’ll help you cut through the noise.

#13 PR & Marketing is Key

After making the adjustments and understanding the new identity, it’s time to spread the word because not everyone will notice the subtle changes to your school brand. And even if they do see a difference, they may not fully understand the message. That’s why it’s so important to communicate your school’s new brand identity.

You want to reach the entire community, and to do that, you need a strong PR and marketing team that uses all available communication channels. You can send emails explaining how and why the school brand has changed. You can even post on social media or the website to get the new brand message out to a broader audience. After all, the effort only has value if people can see it.

PR and marketing for your school

How We Can Help

As you can see from all these steps, expertise, infrastructure, and resources are required to develop and implement an effective branding strategy. If you have all three factors in place, you can go through all these steps and create the perfect brand for your school.

However, chances are that while you need to improve your website, social media, and branding, your expertise and resources are already focused on running the school itself. In this case, it’s best to work with a reliable website service provider like School Webmasters.

We will work with you to determine your goals and conduct surveys, interviews, and test runs to determine what is best for your school. Once we have this information, we can work with you to develop values, promises, and strategies that will set your brand apart from all other schools. Contact us today.