Your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.
Do you think parents really have time to visit and mentally compare every school and cross-reference the information they get from all these schools? How do they know when they have made the best rational decision about their choice of schools? A brand is a kind of tool for your customer to use when making a buying decision.
Every school has a brand. Contrary to popular belief, Your brand is not your logo, not about your tagline, not about your vision statements, It is not a subset of your advertising (more important than that). It is the sum total of all the meanings that all your possible audiences carry about you in their heads and in their hearts.
For example, there is a particular school in Abuja that has the reputation of producing the best results year in year out. I can not identify her logo if I see it but that does not affect her brand. Again, I repeat, a brand is not about the logo, it is about perception.
In other words, your brand is everything the current and prospective parents of your school think, feel, say, hear, read, watch, imagine, suspect, and even hope about your school.
Building your brand and sustaining IT is an endless process, it has no start and end time. You build it consciously and unconsciously. It is not part of your marketing strategy (in most cases). It is not what you consciously do to woo new families. It is part of your core value systems as a school. It may be strong/positive, strong/negative, weak/positive, or weak/positive.
Let’s examine these possible positions one after the other:
This is the best place to be. All schools strive to be here but very few schools are here. It means that your school is known by almost every family and what these families carry in their heads and hearts about your school is good and mirror your vision of your school. Schools in this category often have a long waiting list every session- long enough to populate a school. They are probably leveraging on the fact that the brand gives stability, growth potential, loyalty, and longevity.
2. Strong/Negative brand:
This is not a pleasant place to be. Most schools in this category don’t set out to be here- they were most likely once in the Strong/Positive brand position before finding themselves here. A lot of factors can be attributed to this fall – some of them are out of their control (like the natural disaster, government negligence, policy change, culture, etc. ) while some are within (like examination malpractice, sexual assault etc ). When this happens, it always results in parents leaving the affected school in droves and depleted enrollments. It costs a lot of money and other resources to get out of this position and move to the previous one. It some instances, it may never happen!
3. Weak/Positive brand
A lot of schools are in this space. Not a bad place to be but there is always room for improvement. It only means that few parents know about your school and the good things you do. If you are persistence and you maintain your class, it is just a matter of time, your weak may become strong. Your marketing strategy and PR have a role to play here, invest more in them.
4. Weak/Negative brand
This is the worst place to be, if drastic action is not taken, you’ll soon be out of the school business. Any school in this category probably fell from the weak/positive position. The first step is to convert the negative to positive by addressing whatever caused it before thinking of moving from weak to strong. It takes almost eternity to achieve but it is possible with a strong will and in most cases under different management. The good news is that because just a few people know about your school, it costs less to do damage control unlike schools in Strong/Negative brand position.
In conclusion, what is your school known for? Are you too pricey or cheap? Excellent academic performance, strong in extracurricular activities, strong adherence to spiritual and moral values, your curriculum and others?
What comes to mind when people see your logo, school bus, or hear the name of your school? Engage your current parents to anonymously extract this information, process it and know where your school belongs from the four position stated above. Wherever you belong is a good place to start building your brand.