The ABC’s of School Branding Efforts that Make the Grade

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Public schools, private schools, community colleges, and statewide universities all have one major objective in common: attracting students and increasing enrollment. But that’s where their similarities end. How they approach enhancing admissions can have stark differences. Those that are most successful lean into their authentic Brand (with a capital B), as my colleague Emily Hartzog described in her recent blog.

Chartwell Agency’s educational marketing division works with all types of schools noted above. One of the things we see time and again is schools that really know their differentiators and share them in a smart and consistent manner enjoy increasing enrollment. School Branding (big B) is as critical as the marketing initiatives for-profit businesses undertake.

If your educational institution wants to enhance its brand, here are the ABC’s to guide your process based on insights gleaned from 20+ years of school marketing experience:

Adapt Messaging to Your Ideal Student

Every college or university wants to enroll 3.75 GPA student with a 30 ACT, but not all can or will. Private schools would love to attract high-achieving students as well as families who easily see the value beyond the cost of tuition, but that too can be an impossible dream. Take a moment to look, really look, at your ideal student and then adapt messaging and rebrand TO them. Can your college enhance enrollment by focusing your branding on first-generation students (and then ensure there are support programs to allow them to succeed)? What if a private school sets itself apart and rebrands to focus on areas of expertise such as arts, sports, STEAM approach and/or its student outcomes?

Bring in the Ambassadors

As I mentioned in a previous blog, Graduate to Better School Marketing, your school’s ambassadors include faculty, administrators, students, current/former families, board members, alumni, coaches, and the list goes on. All have some role in carrying the brand of your organization and can exponentially increase your reach if utilized appropriately. Share your vision and gain their insight, buy in, endorsement, and energy to carry your school’s brand message to those ideal students you’ve identified.

Communicate Your Differentiators Externally and Internally

What good is your brand message if no one knows about it? Absolutely nothing. Train individuals within your educational institution on your key differentiators and how to share it with others. While it’s important to ensure external audiences know about your school, your brand message will go nowhere if all key internal parties don’t know it, share it, and help you deliver upon it. Identifying and leaning into your school’s authentic Brand and finding ways to share it to your ideal student will be key to your institution’s ongoing success. Connect with Chartwell Agency for assistance in branding your school.