The first impression is the last impression. This age old adage holds true for schools. Parents are interested in schools that establish a good first impression and satisfy their child's learning needs.
So what is a school brand? Most of us think of brands as logos, taglines and other non-essential factors. Your school brand is the sum of all experiences across all customer points. Think of your school premises, your reception of customers, your teachers, your curriculum and extracurricular activities, your interactions with parents, each an every interaction across media with you by your stakeholders, is your brand experience.
What happens online on your website is a small but an important part of your branding exercise. Branding helps parents differentiate your school from the others. It is the promise you're making to them. A thougthfully designed brand captures the essence of your school's spirit and your vision.
Before you start to market yourself, you need to know who you are. Here are a few tips on how you can create an effective school brand experience.
Invest in a Logo
A logo is an effective tool for marketing your school. It's not just a symbol, but your identity. Playing with alphabets in a logo just to be creative is not creative at all. A good school logo should appeal to students, parents and teachers. Logos can also be used throughout the school on street avenue banners, wall murals and digitally printed windscreens to remind students and visitors that they belong to a school that has a history and is committed to progress.
Create a Website That Helps Parents Make Decisions
Very often the website will be the first contact that a parent or potential pupil has with your school. Therefore develop your web site very thoughtfully. For starters, research a few Indian and International school and college sites. Identify a few which you like in terms of look and fee, copy, architecture, design and features. Interview parents and teachers and assess why parents opt for your school. Understand your school's strengths singular features. Make notes of everything. Then brief your digital agency on your requirements.
Your clarity up front and your knowledge of your customers will go a long way in getting the website you want.
Build an online community
An online community helps like-minded people share their views, converse and exchange information in a virtual space. They break the barriers of time, location and scale that limit real world interactions.
Building an online community for your school can assure that your students (prospective, current and former) are viewing and connecting in an online community surrounded by your brand. The multimedia is yours; the membership data can be mined by you, for you, at any time you like; the system is secure; your logo/branding is in place.
Be aggressive in Social Media
Since the dawn of the digital age and the introduction of social media, the opportunities for current and prospective parents and pupils to interact with your school's brand has increased significantly. Schools must now be careful of how their brand appears on the social media channels they choose. This means consistency across all channels is key to not only protecting your school's brand but also promoting it. New age marketers are welcoming the transparency social media provides their school's brand.
Start a blog
Blogs are beneficial for school brands for three reasons.
- Blogs help you rank well in search engines for keywords and brings you search engine traffic
- Google loves fresh, unique content on websites that is constantly updated
- Blogs provide for great content to share on social media networks. If you’re sharing informative blog posts about your school, you’re likely to get a lot of traffic and social shares from interested parents and pupils. Use it to showcase members of your faculty, student body, awards, even challenges.
- Finally, great blogs can help your brand build authority in your niche.
Make promotional videos
Creating promotional videos that show parents the opportunities that you provide for their children at your school, can boost your admissions. It can show who you are and how prospective students could fit within your school environment.
You can create these using an authentic story-telling approach that is much more candid and representative of your school's personality. You can shoot events and activities and get students to talk. Combined with a well-designed website, a promotional video provides you with a powerful marketing tool.
For colleges and schools, branding is an investment that helps you with sustained admissions of the most qualified and best-suited students. Colleges and schools, much like their applicants, have to showcase and prove their value to decision makers. Those with the strongest brands and brand experiences will undoubtedly rise above the clutter and own the decision.