Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Educational Leaders Need a Brand Platform

Do I Need A Brand Platform?

Building a strong brand starts with a Brand Platform. A Brand Platform is the necessary framework to house ongoing efforts that connect branding to school culture and achievement. Based on new branding terms and definitions, you’ll need to study up! Since the elements of Branding flourish with communication, let’s look to the terms and speak the language.

Be the Brand-Ed EDUCATOR….

Part of being in the tribe is speaking the language. One of the early tasks for a leader who is building a branding tribe is teaching the processes of a branded community for quick use. Employ the same definitions business created years ago and hone the conversation about your brand.

Your school’s Brand Platform will be the home for new thinking, including new language, “brandspeak” definitions.

Building a Brand Platform
Tenets for The CEO, Chief Education Officer, of Branding

As you build your understanding of branding, learn about the value of a Brand Platform. The brand platform will focus the organization on building valuable relationships, like root of branding. Once the conversation about branding begins, a platform offers a familiar framework on which to build your school brand. The platform consists of elements, new terms that help create a clear, compelling message to focus and connect every employee's behaviors toward consistently delivering the brand value. A snappy tagline or mission statement is not enough; and, most importantly, a Brand Platform must be embraced throughout an organization.

Your brand platform is designed to align the way the organization interfaces, in every engagement, with the community. It a practical, usable tool guiding all members of the organization to support the brand through their words and actions. Credibility is the most important criteria of a brand platform. Without credibility, a brand is simply reduced to an empty slogan.
At its best, a robust brand platform speaks to the school’s distinctiveness, contribution, and possibilities for making a difference in the lives of students. Credibility as a brand is woven throughout the tenets articulated in the platform. As a strategic tool, a brand platform has a wide range of appeal to connect with a broad constituency of students, teachers, staff, and management.

Scheduling meetings and creating teams around the important features of the brand platform can build familiarity with language and processes of branding that have worked in business for years.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brand Ed: Brand Platforms for Educators

A Brand Platform focuses the organization on building value-added customer relationships.

Thinking about a platform for your school branding efforts will take you in several directions as you align management on key strategies to deliver value to customers, create a clear, compelling marketing message that results in more efficient brand communications,and provide a focus on connecting every employee's behaviors to consistently deliver differentiated value.

Creating an educational brand platform that has strategic value to an organization requires a process that is inclusive, that results in genuine outcomes that are inspiring throughout the community. Website polishing or tagline or re-positioning statement is not going to make it.

A school's brand platform must be embraced throughout an organization.It will define important brand behaviors and support clear, targeted communication about the brand's promise. A brand platform is designed to provide uniformity in the way the organization interfaces, in every way,and also is a practical, usable tool to guide all members of the organization on how to support the brand through words and actions.

Credibility is the most important criteria of the brand platform, period. it a brand platform is reduced to another empty slogan that will eventually, sooner, rather than later, become irrelevant.

According to business experts, these are the 6 elements of a platform:

Brand Vision – A forward-looking statement that describes the brand in terms of its relationship with its targeted customers.
Core Values – Core values are an expression of an organization’s principles and culture and provide the foundation for living the brand.
Brand Position – The brand position pragmatically defines the brand’s desired position among competitors in the category.
Brand Dimensions – The impressions of what the organization does, the distinctive qualities it delivers in every relationship, and the consistent qualities that every client can expect in every interaction.
Brand Promise – The crucial link to the day-to-day brand impressions that are delivered by an organization’s employees.
Brand Character – A personification of the brand that creates the imagery forming the bases of consistent external marketing communication.

Build a strong brand on the inside using these elements as a guide!

Monday, December 14, 2009

BRAND Ed: A Brand New Idea in Creating a Winning School

The development of new thinking, thought made visible as a finished written product, is the birthing process...and I have had three children, and written several manuscripts, school programs, grant and published a book.

So I'm not surprised that as I write, I'm getting closer to the message...and I am actually renaming it! Well, the three kids' names, with the exception of my son, Zachary, were always changing before they arrived!!

So now with a little help from far off friends.. I am now losing the MAd Ave brand....and heading to the brand that follows:

BRAND-ED and combining it with BRAND NEW...which I think is closest to what I want to say, and that can be communicated quickly for a reader...the Brand is developing. And the book proposal getting clearer...cutting away at the fog!!!

Meanwhile...saw this thinking today and like the message: The place for generations to collaborate on brand in schools includes the 2.0 landscape!

Millennials need to feel as though they are using their skills and expertise to their utmost capacity in order to be engaged in their job. Get them involved in leading the branding push to develop a 2.0 branding plan that fits into the total school brand development. They sure know it from developing a personal brand! The me 2.0 Generation!
Intern Bridge, the internship research and consulting firm responsible for the nation’s largest annual internship research project , suggests this...I couldn't agree more and will address this in my book, too!

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Tip for Taking on the BRAND: It's Necessary


Is it really necessary? Is it worth the effort spent planning, meetings, trainings ?

Business speaks to brand about a ”market share”. The education business has a market in place, They have buyers. School customers are a robust group.

Aren’t schools different? Does a school really have to find clients?

You’re An Educator...but you may have to go a bit MAD.

As a MAD AVE Principal, where you stand on the above questions may be linked to where you sit. If you are in private education, you may already have a group of ”buyers” who traditionally seek your type of educational service. If you are in an academic institution, you attract a market for advanced study and degrees. In both those settings, the competition is getting increasingly fierce for tuition dollars, Weaving a strong branding or rebranding conversation to fit the competitive 2.0 world to your existing model, can strengthen a school’s unique profile, build enrollment, increase funding.

Now, if you are a MAD AVE. principal in a public school setting, you have a captive market. You have a residential community. Most residents have children they send to you for service. Or they may choose not to. They may have opted out, and are part of the private market, even as they pay school taxes. You may be losing the highest performing students to the private educator in your zip code. Having an excellent brand can help you compete and create that profile of high achievement, and win back the hearts and minds of today’s economically strapped parents of students you want to educate. They make good customers.

So, start the branding conversation. Maybe with someone who has opted out!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thriving with a School Brand

Why Brand in Today’s 2.0 World: From Biz to School to Personal Buzz

Is it really necessary? You are thinking that.

Is it worth the effort, the time, the negotiation, the meetings, the decisions. Is it worth it?

Why build a brand for my school ? It seems to have a market in place, the school community is right there.I don't have to find customers. So why would you want to build a brand?

Brands are part of the 2.0 world today. They exist in our constant need for communication. Schools, if they are to be successful, need to recognize that the days of the solitary one room isolated school experience are gone. Ask any parent who has received a text message from a child in a classroom:" forgot $ for yearbook, come quick with $", and you will know that the communication highway is like a crazy cloverleaf that curls loops through a school's setting, culture and atmosphere. Branding is a part of school life already because of the need to manage and monitor as best as one can, the reputation of a school. A reputation for excellence. So the elevator speech for school branding that can be buzzed by all is, "Branding secures the school's positive reputation throughout the entire community ,and increases loyalty of all who touch the brand."

There is a constant need to communicate the brand promise that comes to business, individuals and schools. And each entity works on improving the brand in today's modern world in much the same way. The reason for building a branding goes beyond surviving. It means thriving.

In a poetic sense, there comes a time when remaining closed off tightly in a bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom. So the brand campaign is the opening of that bud . It might not even be painful. When led with intention and vision, it can be an exciting journey.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Burn to BRAND: Thinking Branding History

A Burn to Brand: Think Brand History

A school leader who launches a brand campaign to support school excellence needs to be armed with a clear reason for taking up the charge. Otherwise, the response from the ranks might sound like a Greek chorus bemoaning yet another a new leadership direction.

You’re an educator!

The key to rallying support lies in educating the potential collaborators on your team. Teach why brands will be continually important in the future, and why a 2.0 perspective is good for a school community’s ability to deliver excellence. According to every social media pundit who is writing, Tweeting and blogging today, there will be increasing interest in fueling the iconic brand of an organization with the power of complimentary personal brands that are part of the workplace. People are branding without even knowing they are, so define this behavior and connect it to school excellence and it’s an easy sell. Without a doubt, the most credible and visible educational brands stand the best chance of continued success as respected school communities in a changing educational landscape. Leaders who see the implication of branding for the development of schools are creating new organizational models for schools of the future.

A forward thinking leader looks to the next decade and the innovative uses of branding, social networking and managing the content that comes with this territory. So in the words of a heavy hitting brand, “JUST DO IT!”

But first, a look backward is in order. A little history can provide context for the move forward. Knowing something of the history of branding, the beginnings of its life in connection to markets, can help a leader present the mission of branding/rebranding to a 21st century school community. A step back into the earliest part of the 20th Century is in order before a giant leap to branding 2.0 is accomplished.

According to research, the first recognized brand is the 19th Century British Brewery Bass & Company. (Don’t count out the Vesuvium wine carafes that were found in the ruins of Pompeii, however!) And since the root of the word branding is an Old Norse term “brandr” meaning to burn, the reason for branding today, lies in the hope that the brand can ignite connection!

Monday, December 07, 2009

MAD Ave Principles:Developing Your School Brand

Developing the Brand

The branding conversation a leader initiates has an overarching objective based upon building trust. A winning brand can only advance the reputation of the school, and winning brands are based on trust. Developing the brand is part of an educational leaders’ role in today’s world as it has long been for CEO’s in business. CEO’s stand behind the trust equity that have been built; and, trust has been a topic of interest in education of late. If trust is linked to accountability in schools, building a brand is needed today more than ever.

The standard test of trust in education is: “Have I kept my promises to you?

Leaders who develop a brand take an important journey that results in building a public expression of what MAD Ave calls, the “brand promise”, or the benefit that a brand will deliver, to all who connect with it. In an education, a school makes its brand promise in the same way a business makes their commitment. Solid branding assures a “buyer” a quality experience.

Educators who collectively and consciously work to create that connection to their community enhance their school’s reputation, positive identity and performance. A winning brand results! Building credibility and trust equity is something iconic brands have done for years. They build their organizational message from the inside out to assure trust in the brand is not breached. They work hard to keep the promise intact and unbroken. Sounds like a perfect plan for schools.

To do this, tangible and intangible branding elements must be developed and aligned by the school community. These elements assure that trust is part of each interaction with the educational brand. It’s a constant signal to a consumer that the school’s promised services can be believed and trusted. A parent sends a child to be educated in a school community trusting in a service. Increasing that expectation to a level of a winning brand goes to a powerful level when the collective impression of a school identity is positive to even those who don’t send children to the school. Leaders who recognize and build the intangible and tangible concepts of a brand can communicate a satisfying identity that fosters positive student achievement and a positive supportive community at large, a win- win -win.

In direct and subtle ways, a brand is developed to be lived by each member of the community. In order to create the brand, questions about who develops the concepts, how the brand is articulated, how the story is shared, and the message is delivered must be answered. How long is this brand building process, how is the brand protected once it is developed , how is the message spread in face to face and online promises are more challenges to thinking.

Sustaining a community of excellence by identifying a brand that everyone can live and promote can help educators in the “Twitter up” environment to communicate value and maintain excellence.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Branding Lessons:Understanding Branding for Educators 101

Understanding branding as a managing principle can improve every educational leaders’ skill set in our modern age.

Discussions of school identity and student achievement become energized and refined to completion through the MAD Ave principle of branding. The branding concept is vital to the modern age of digital communication in our school. Facilitating branding conversations in a school community offers any school leader the chance to create powerful new discussions on how iconic branding, personal branding, online behaviors, and educational messaging can be as, Tom Friedman suggests, “mashed” for new creative organizational thinking and isible result. Using new concepts, language and frameworks of branding, a leader can present unique solutions for grappling with the always present challenge of demonstrating excellence in schools. MAD AVE principles can be the foundation.

Educators need not feel at a loss for their lack of understanding the MAD Ave principle of branding. Just because corporations have been engaging in branding activities since early 20th century, doesn’t mean that even business can adequately define branding. Branding can look like a solid concept, but today, the concept of branding morphs constantly. Ask advertising professionals to define branding and you’ll get a stock statement or some generalities. The forecast for defining branding is at best cloudy with an occasional break of clarity. Yet the branding beat goes on.

So what do school leaders need to know to take on this MAD Ave view of organizational thinking?

First, be confident. Branding is about relationships and education is based on relationship building. It’s a right fit. But, branding value may be hard to describe due to the shifting nature of modern connection that we often seem to be chasing. Today, positively connecting people and building relationships through messages, images, and content is a challenge in itself, Be aware that branding will affect the world in some small way before you even finish reading this chapter.

Second, know that this is critical. Because the powerful social media movement exists, branding is one hot topic online and offline: facebook, myspace, twitter, all create branding opportunities, the chance to affect relationships, for their users. Adopters may not understand branding, but research points to a “high”, a flood of dopemine that rushes through the user’s system when connected to social networking system of the day, interacting with relationships and brands, iconic and personal. And if the experience lends itself to credible and genuine good feeling, than the branding experience is high and a loyalty to the experience is created. Isn’t that part of what schools look for? Over 50% of those users are women. And mature women are joining these social networks at increasing rates, and branding themselves as thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and experts. Men flock to Digg, Stumleupon to create and share content particular to their interests. Where is your school community’s place in this?

Finally, we live in the world of BRANDING. We understand and use brands, and the most powerful brand going forward, beating Coke, Walmart, Nike…is Google, warehouse of the world’s thinking. Chances are you are a loyal user, and have developed a credible relationship with the king of content and you share this with others.

Rather than lament the infringement on how branding influences the way we act, buy, think, talk, and learn. Rather than see it as a hostile takeover, educators can welcome this monumental change sweeping into schools. It comes in the form of the smallest student who not only carries the PBS Kids brand on his back, but on his computer bookmarked sites where h generates new learning. Let’s welcome it in the question, “Should your teachers be developing a personal brand online as educators and selling their branded lesson plans in the marketplace?” let's open our minds and arms to embrance and understand branding as a powerful tool to create teaching and learning connections, shared language, experience and positive attitudes about WHO WE ARE as educators...and why we should be trusted to deliver excellence in service that leads to achievement.

School agendas are dense and heavy with standards and compliances. A fresh direction--a new conversation on branding can help cut through those discussions. Educational issues can be better addressed when people share a common belief in a their own educational brand and invest in building relationships within the organization that advance that brand every day, no matter what issue is on the table. Every encounter among teachers, staff and managers and with the community is an opportunity to advance the winning brand.

The educational branding conversation must move out to the public-- the customers: parents, businesses, community members and seniors in order to show the PROMISE of the school brand daily, and how is offers each group value. Each yearly budget vote can be empowered to a positive ROI if the school understands, develops and lives a trusted brand. Once a brand that has been fully operationalized, it moves into every facet of the community through all sorts of channels, social media, print, word of mouth, and positive attitude follows. The brand, the identity of the school as a unique place of achievement that offers return on the investment for the community, is then understood.

Brand of the moment: AN EDUCATION

It's Saturday and I'm writing my MAD AVE book proposal to the tune of an education brand called...An Education. It is the soundtrack from a wonderful film called, yes---An Education.

The film takes place in 1961...same time frame as Madmen in the USA...and the fab soundtrack is my Brand of the Moment pick for a grey NYC day. It's a bargain at $9.99 at Itunes... The original work of Peter Englishby is woven throughout, as well as artists of the day such as Brenda Lee, Mel Torme, Percey Faith. It makes a great soundtrack for my work today. And I so loved the movie..I may have to see it again!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Branding. It’s a buzzword, and it’s everywhere. And it’s come to education.

In fact, branding begins long before the first day of school.

What used to be called “naming” is a human being's first experience with branding. It used to be simple. The newborn arrived and depending on the sex, mom and dad give a name so as to keep things from being messy when they bring the baby home to the other family members. But now a fetus is not just named, she can be branded in utero by anxious parents holding books of best baby names, long before her arrival. Shall they name her Apple? Isabella? Rain? Mary? No—nobody is Mary anymore. Get the difference? And wait, let’s send Apple’s sonogram out on her facebook fan page for our 5,000 friends to see. The world according to branding means going viral on sonogram screens, computer screens, and on everybody’s tongue.

So what is branding? Is it just about visibility on social networks?

Branding has been with us since the early 20th launch of the Morton Salt Girl or the Quaker Oats Man. But why does it suddenly seem so urgently important today? Important enough that dancing You Tube infants, kindergarteners, my space tweenagers, and White House party crashers have all personally branded themselves for millions to enjoy in this new communication age?

Branding is a serious topic. It’s about to take over education from the inside out, and it’s in need of definition and understanding. It needs an advocate in education. From where I sit in business today, branding has a place in the marketplace that can inform schools.

Two professional journeys, one in education and one in business, produces a guide for school leaders that opens up a necessary conversation about building winning school culture in new ways through a branding campaign.

My consulting perspective is informed by careers in education and business. I bring a different lens on marketing to business types and a different perspective on education to school leaders. When asked, I say..."I've really been in business all of my life, the business of sales”. I mean I've sold "education" in a diverse marketplaces across the country to students, teachers, parents, administrators, school board members, business people, politicians and the community. They’ve been my niche market. And both experiences have shaped my thinking. Lately, I’ve expanded that thinking to branding, but branding isn’t really sales. It’s deeper than that. Aligning school programs, initiatives, and standards can be approached through a branding conversation, beyond the superficial trappings of websites, logos and taglines. Talking about branding goes beyond making a pitch.

Worlds are converging around the topic of branding. George Costanza once decried colliding worlds on TV’s Seinfeld, but I see this collision as a boon, a powerful opportunity; the chance for a new winning idea to be spread that branding education could be good for school identity and student achievement. Thomas Freidman would applaud my view as an example of his “imagination mash-up”, a new bit of thinking for business and education. If worlds are converging, a new age is dawning, and it’s not Aqaurius-- It’s the age of Educational Branding.

So let the sunshine in and the branding conversation begin.

Understanding, developing, and living an educational brand is far from an empty exercise for school leaders and their modern connected communities. This book invites thinking about the value of branding in education. It’s written to inspire conversations in small meetings, over coffee in faculty rooms, in focus groups and in professional development venues. The branding conversation belongs in schools because it links to relationship building, trust and authenticity, the very values the educational community has advanced in curriculum and standards reform in the last decades.

So let’s talk about branding. And the good news is… the branding concept comes not from Washington DC policymakers, it comes from Madison Avenue Ad men…or Madmen, and they’ve always had their finger on the pulse of what the market wants.

If you are intriguiged by the buzz of MAD AVE principles for Branding, and their application to education, read on. At the very least ,it’s a good fit for your learning and professional development. I promise you’ll will grow new denrites as it expands your thinking about business and education. At its best, the Mad Ave ideas may help you initiate a discussion tthat will improve the culture of your school, the identity of your organization and the achievement of your students.

MAD Ave principles for school “principals”? Every Tom, Dick and Harry, Apple, Rain and Mary needs to learn them today.

And You'd be crazy not to.

The Reality of The Obama Brand

The misguided Michele and Tarique's excellent adventure crashing the White House dinner is a study of personal branding in the age of "reality" shows, celebrity wanna be's and balloon boys. Maureen Dowd's take from the NY Times...


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Showing your Level 5 Ed Leadership as a MAD Principal

Like it or not, Web 3.0 world has crept into every part of job descriptions and hiring of school leaders. Today's school leaders can approach innovation in this world of almost instant awareness through building a brand for their school, and at the same time build a genuine brand for themselves that distinguishes their professional value.

Jim Collins' Level 5 Leadership work fits into my view of MAD AVE Princples and my search for MAD Principals who want to introduce the ideas of branding into the conversation of school achievement and excellence.
A Level 5 leader knows meaningful organizational change on his/her leadership journey is accomplished by bringing out the best in others. A leader who takes on branding in education wants to poke at the human essence of what an organization is about and what that organization delivers in its brand promise. In fact, any principal who becomes MAD for branding possesses the capacity to be a level 5 leader. The experience of building a brand can be the training ground for level 5 leadership whose hallmark is the creativity and innovation that takes an organization from good enough to great.

Ok, some days educational managers feel like they have to don the superman or superwoman cape to face the challenges of leading a modern school, whose possibilities seem boundless due to 3.0. However, on the educational branding front, the cape...or the mantle can and should be shared.

Yes, it is the leader's vision, the leading from the front, that creates the desire for a brand that is unique and meaningful. Yet, to be at Level 5, Collins would expect one " flatten out" the challenge, and share the development of the brand. This separates the Level 4 Leader from the Level 5 Superman or Superwoman. Educational Branding development works best when the effort is launched horizontally across the organization. Leaders who draw on the talents of the many make the route from Planing the Brand to Living the Brand easier, more genuine and faster to achieve.

So start the process to being a Level 5 leader, by doing your homework. Find content you can share that can help you grow a team. Start looking to the MAD world of MAD AVE by reading and researching. Hubspot, social media today can help you on the roadthrough inspiring content that leads to confidently thinking about how 3.0, branding, and social media are a new part of your job description as a Level 5 MAD Principal on the BRANDING journey.

Don't forget to leave a comment!

Last Look Powerful NY Women of 2009


Color this brand awesome. In light of reading Gail Collins Book, as I blogged yesterday, here is a fabulous list of New York Women including Rachel Ray, of course...who are continuing to change everything!

Self Branding 101

Happy December 1st NYC!

New York Times Notable Books 2009 for Gifting

Color this brand...BRIEF...in the Tweet Age is it no surprise that the SHORT STORY is on the rise?

Blogging tips that will boost your conversions - Use your keywords - iMediaConnection.com

"If you want to spread the word...blog."

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's Not New York, But the Brands Speak English In Spain!

Sunday in New York: The Brand is Spectacular

The Brand of the Moment: When Everything Changed...The Evolving Brand of the American Woman

Gail Collins, the brilliant voice of OP ED in the New York Times has gifted us for the holidays and beyond...RUN, don't walk, and buy as many copies as you can of her wonderful new release, When Everything Changed, The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present.

Gift your daughters,your sisters, your husbands..even the ex's... your sons, all of the men in your life, with this amazing chronicle of the social and historical profile of the coming of New age 2010 for the American woman. Its entertaing and meaningful tone is irresistible ...it starts with the story of how one woman's choice to wear pants to pay a parking ticket to a narrow-minded in 1960 was a cause for media coverage.

For a baby boomer, the references are startling...I kept thinking...is that why my mother was doing that and HER mother? Is that why I did that...why I became a teacher ? And what about my daughters?

From the plains of the settlements of the earliest pioneer women to Michelle Obama, the journey of women from the Feminine Mystique to the 2008 meltdown, women have carved out a place that is deserving...and will continue. The Brand of the MOMENT...evolution!!!

MAD Ave Principles: Understand, Develop,and Live your Winning School Brand

MAD Ave Principles: Understand, Develop and Live your Winning School Brand is the new working title for my upcoming book on the power of bringing Branding Lessons...MAD Ave's Branding Principles... to "School Principals", our educational decision makers. Public education's leaders have to rally communities around school excellence in an existing client base, and leaders who manage private schools, colleges, universities need to build a more connected brand to attract clients. Both camps have the same needs. They must develop a level of personal experience through positive personal interactions between the organization and its market, its client--- AT EVERY POINT OF CONTACT! As Nike, Coke and Apple attest...having a well defined BRAND can achieve this.

The best way to assure that the audience/market you have and the market that you want to attract, experience the highest customer satisfaction with your school organization's service is to become MAD. Yes,MAD, as in absolutely flaming MAD. That's MAD as in "MADISON AVENUE savvy". To do that, hit the books, well, hit my book as soon as its published!

Until then, continue to read my blog.

Today's school managers must study BRANDING Lessons to learn facets of BRANDING and the framework of BRANDING, systems that have been honed for many years by MADmen ADmen on MAdison Avenue. These ideas empower school managers to accept a new frame of mind, and ready them to lead a 21st century campaign to bring an educational BRAND to the community. A BRAND connects emotionally and intellectually to all involved. More than MARKETING, which is fundamentally different, BRANDING education is a foundational necessity in today's world. The power of BRANDING hasn't been taught to educators in graduate school.Yet in this age of shared information, having that knowledge as a leader is essential.

As I see it from my background in business and education, there are Three Phases in growth for leaders who become MAD principals:

1. UNDERSTANDING BRANDING Dedicatie yourelf as an educational manager and thought leader to building an awareness of the power of BRANDING in educational settings. Understanding why BRANDING is important and why you should care about it. This is the first step to becoming a MAD Principal.
2. DEVELOPING the BRAND:Scope out the landscape. Build the unique framework for defining, through tangible and intangible means. The organizational shift to BRANDING is something you lead, not craft in isolation. Your school community 's brand will develop in conjunction with select stakeholders.
3.LIVING the BRAND Be ready to walk the talk. Once its captured, champion the BRAND through your leadership and motivating the organization to embark on living the BRAND for success. This will make the effort genuine and successful.

So...Are you a MAD Principal? Have you done something creative, out of the box , or tangible to demonstrate your awareness of building a relationship with your community in a new way? Please Comment.. and send this post to educator friends.I'm hunting for MAD Principals.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Defining MADman Principals

Creating the world of branding schools with the help of MADMAN Principles is a passion for me.

Getting feedback from my blog readers is so important to the process of developing the book, the platforms, the social networks that I believe can support new leaders as well as seasoned leaders, in their effort to use the best of marketing to inform their role as educational leader.

Are you a MADman Principal? Or a MADwoman? I'm in the process of defining this term and publishing it as a wiki, in fact. There's even a madmanprincipal.com as of yesterday!

Perhaps before the wikipedia entry becomes active, an elevator speech for defining MADman Principal is in order. I'll be developing that on the train today, as well as the WIKI.

For those interested, a MAD man of sorts...one of the developers of Wikipedia has gone into the educational video market!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Branding Lessons:Connect Brand Personality to School Achievent

Every school mission statement is earnest, serious, layered, full of parallel structure and commas in series-- and without a personality! Without a USP! In this case, USP..UNIQUE SCHOOL PERSONALITY!

Isn't that what achieving success is about? The most successful people among us show how unique they are and deliver on that promise. Look at any winner . Look across the spectrum of the human experience from entertainers, to politicians,to intellectuals; and, what do you see? You see a unique personality, one that has achieved, and one that is completely connected to the market. So why shouldn't brand personality be something that can link to conversations about school achievement? Discussions on Brand Personality and how it connects to the community audience are valuable. The personality of the brand should reflect the larger community as well, and can help to "rally the troops" around whatever the USP of a school or district brand is believed to be. The Brand Personality can concisely project the a clear vision and connection to just what the school community stands for each day. And because there might be occasional disconnects between what the community wants: a winning football team, highest test score in the state, admission to Ivy League for all graduates to name a few, A clear brand personality can be easily maintained to offset those challenges. So, beyond the jargon of the mission statement...MADmen principals need to ask themselves, what does our brand personality show about us? Do we need a brand personality facelift?

Here's one mission statement picked at random from the internet:

The mission of_________ Elementary is to provide opportunities for students to achieve their personal best, become responsible and productive citizens, and embrace lifelong learning in a safe and positive environment. OK. This part is valiant and full of nobility. It's on the website...no one ever reads this stuff, really. And then it continues....

At school, we believe:

· All children can learn.

· All children benefit from developmentally appropriate materials, practices, and strategies.

· All children deserve a quality education in which individual needs are met, exceeded, and supported.

· Social skills, such as Life skills, deserve the same attention as academic ones.

· School is not just about children: it encompasses families, parents, community, stakeholders, society, the environment and the world.

· Children must be encouraged to see the connections between new learning and prior knowledge.

· Children are more than test scores.

· Children learn best in a safe, caring environment, one that values diversity, collaboration, and risk-taking.

· Children thrive when expectations are high and self-esteem higher.

· Direct instruction of students helps to increase student achievement.

Wonderful thinking....but how do we easily rally around all that...? There's so much of it. And who wouldn't agree that all schools want great test scores and safe kids. No mission statement would say we settle for middle of the road! And let's throw in some cognitive" stuff "about connecting new learning and prior knowledge ( somebody just came back from a workshop, I'll bet!). Again...who reads this stuff? It fills up websites.

Really, when choosing a brand, turn conversations to INSPIRING your target audience... your community, not overwhelming them with education-ese. If you think about brand personality, you might find yourself connecting to the leader of the school and the district. A strong leader's personality can enrich and be a model for the intangible personality of the brand... and that's great! If a MADman principal has a strong enough agenda, vision and personal brand, the school can benefit from living it...Think of Apple. The brand personality of Apple is really Steven Job's ...and it hasn't hurt that organization one bit. And who cares about the Apple mission statement when they are have achieved such quality and are sharing their unique brand personality with millions.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Branding Lessons: 5 Tips for MADman Principals to Improve School Identity through Emotional Branding

Years ago, the first time I went into the Disney store in NYC, I had tears in my eyes. Cutching my young daughter's hand, I knew she was excited. She was almost dancing with delight! But the emotion of every experience I'd had with Disney as a child welled up inside me. Inside I was dancing with delight. A lifetime of emotions for a brand. What a connection! Although research says that even the strongest brands connect at the powerful emotional level with about half of their customers, it's worth thinking about it as a Branding Lesson for MADman Principals. It's worth thinking about the subtle ways that your school's brand might benefit from genuine emotional connection to an audience. Would it benefit having the "dance of satisfactory customer service delight" about your school's services present in the subconscious minds of your community? Would you want more than half of your community to have the subliminal buzz that the school is beneficial to them? I'd say yes...and around budget time and referundum time, the answer would be a definite YES!

So a few Tips on BRANDING and Emotions. One of the best pieces on the subject is William Mc Ewan's the Power of Emotional Connection.http://www.zibs.com/mcewen.shtml

What he's learned from digging into consumer conversations can inform your next emotionally charged conversation with colleagues and staff about branding. These MADman principles come from business, but I see them with educators eyes. They absolutely relate to schools and the need to build an identity that offers an emotional connection, one that builds support for any direction the school takes to build a unique identity for student achievement:

1. Consumers' emotions aren't merely warm and squishy concepts suitable mainly for greeting cards and Hollywood movies. Emotional connections are powerful and profitable. Emotional bonds represent critical indicators of a wide variety of future positive outcomes related to achievement. Schools provide services and products. There's an impressive Return on Investment that results from emotionally engaging a community niche market - and there's a substantial cost, especially around voting, that results from disengaging them.

2. There's a crucial difference between a customer and an engaged customer. Getting schools to increase customers should never be an objective; building customer engagement should be. MADman principals can be accountable for building engagement. It's never a single factor; it's the total brand experience that determines the enduring health of a "brand marriage"in a school community. The "people" component is almost always the toughest to get right,but MADmen have the edge!

3. Every time a customer comes in contact with the school organization - with its products, stores/schools, people, visual tags, or with the stories that appear in blogs and in the newspaper - the brand relationship can be enhanced. Or it can be diminished. Brand marriages aren't static; they continue to evolve. And every change, whether up or down, has a consequence.

4. Brand relationship management isn't just a marketing challenge, nor is it a challenge that can be met solely through operational or technology enhancements. Successful brand connection management requires a passionate and empowered MADman principal , A brand champion, who leads a school-wide commitment and aligns efforts that extend across a school or district.

5. School consumers' emotions can be reliably and meaningfully measured, quantified and, more to the point, can be managed. Schools can enhance their customer connections.

As McEwen states..It's certainly not easy. But it's not really optional; it's imperative.

William J. McEwen is Global Practice Leader, Brand Managem

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Branding Lessons:Branding and Gen Y: Can this Group Improve your School Brand?

An interesting post for Saturday's MADMAN thinking from KIT YARROW. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/kyarrow/index

How does this information impact your building a brand that can promote a 21st century school identity?

Kit asks...

"What are young consumers getting out of their social media relationships with brands and retailers? Here are three themes that surfaced repeatedly in interviews.

Status: Shoppers feel like smart "insiders" when they learn about special deals, new product arrivals and promotions through tweets, emails, Facebook fan pages, and by visiting shopping sites like Retailmenot. The medium has the potential to create intimacy at scale. Says, Ricardo, 23, "If I have a problem I use Twitter to complain to the company. I get much better service than I'd get if I called or sent an email, which is very impersonal and they don't really care."

When marketers reward fans and followers with exclusive freebies, promotions and information they create loyalty by elevating the status of their followers.

Connection: In our increasingly fragmented and visually oriented world, people often connect with others using brands as the vehicle. It's like wearing the school colors - a way to bond and identify like-minded others. Sites that facilitate connection between consumers are beloved for more than the merchandise - it's because of their ability to create a community. Kaboodle's popular shopping site does just that, as do Facebook fan pages like Converse's where members can share photos and ideas with other fans - united by their common interest in the brand.

Connecting consumers to each other also connects them to the brand.

When I read Kit's words...I think customer satisfaction....this is a generation that is going to have a lot to do with education...as teachers...as customers...and getting thinking aligned to customer satisfaction...To create a positive INTIMACY with this community is vital. Thinking about new hires...make sure they can develop customer satisfaction, just the way they demand it it in their own lives...

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/kyarrow/index#ixzz0XVc5abVQ

Friday, November 20, 2009

Twitter According to Rosabeth


Rosabeth Moss Kantor tells it like it is in social networking Havard Biz School style.

Branding Lessons:LinkedIn a First Step to Going MAD

You may know that Linkedin is a professional online network with 50 milllion onboard and growing every moment. Some use this for NETWORKING, some for jobseeking. It's an important tool for a MADman Principal to seriously approach.

As a former school administrator, I will tell you I had many conversations about the Loneliness of being the Boss. Who will administrators share with in a school? Picking up the phone to call your significant other during a stressful day, doesn't work. In this day, the other ...is at her/his own stressful job.

As an author of an networking book, I believe LinkedIn to be a great resource, especially for the occasional moments that face isolated school leader. Building a network of other professionals who are in your shoes through LinkedIn is a great value. If you are not on any of the social networks I posted earlier, get on Linked in. Establish your profile, copy and past your resume onto your home page. DOWNLOAD YOUR PICTURE..a MUST!-- and get started.

Place your schools website into your profile and search for some key words that will match your position: educator, principal, schools,etc.

Join a few groups.

Answer and create discussion questions....pretty soon you will see connections grow as you invite others. Soon you'll be invited too, and the isolation of the school administrator will not be as keen. A forum for questions, connections and content sharing will enrich any day. And INVITE ME TO YOUR EDUCATORS PARTY!

Branding Lessons:Linking Up with Social Media

The 50 Best Sites for Tuning into Social Media :

A great reference! for Madman Principals especially. Sites that follow look really important for Educational thought leaders:

Professional-Networking Sites
Sign up with these online networking communities as a company or as an individual to take advantage of recruiting opportunities, cross-promotional events and more.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
Ecademy: Ecademy prides itself on "connecting business people" through its online network, blog and message-board chats, as well as its premier BlackStar membership program, which awards exclusive benefits.
Focus: Focus is a business destination where business professionals can help each other with their purchase and other business decisions by accessing research and peer expertise. Most importantly, Focus provides open, quality information for all businesses that is freely available, easily accessible, and community powered.
YorZ: This networking site doubles as a job site. Members can post openings for free to attract quality candidates.
Xing: An account with networking site Xing can "open doors to thousands of companies." Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to "find experts at the click of a button, market yourself in a professional context [and] open up new sales channels."
Facebook: Facebook is no longer just for college kids who want to post their party pics. Businesses vie for advertising opportunities, event promotion and more on this social-networking site.
Care2: Care2 isn't just a networking community for professionals: It's touted as "the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference." If your business is making efforts to go green, let others know by becoming a presence on this site.
Gather: This networking community is made up of members who think. Browse categories concerning books, health, money, news and more to ignite discussions on politics, business and entertainment. This will help your company tap into its target audience and find out what they want.
MEETin.org: Once you've acquired a group of contacts in your city by networking on MEETin.org, organize an event so that you can meet face-to-face.
Tribe: Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New York and Chicago have unique online communities on tribe. Users can search for favorite restaurants, events, clubs and more.
Ziggs: Ziggs is "organizing and connecting people in a professional way." Join groups and make contacts through your Ziggs account to increase your company's presence online and further your own personal career.
Plaxo: Join Plaxo to organize your contacts and stay updated with feeds from Digg, Amazon.com, del.icio.us and more.
NetParty: If you want to attract young professionals in cities like Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando Fla., create an account with the networking site NetParty. You'll be able to connect with qualified, up-and-coming professionals online, then meet them at a real-life happy-hour event where you can pass out business cards, pitch new job openings and more.
Networking For Professionals: Networking For Professionals is another online community that combines the Internet with special events in the real world. Post photos, videos, résumés and clips on your online profile while you meet new business contacts.

Niche Social-Media Sites
Consider linking up with one of these social-media sites to narrow down your business's target audience. You'll find other professionals, enthusiasts and consumers who are most likely already interested in what your company has to offer.

Pixel Groovy: Web workers will love Pixel Groovy, an open-source site that lets members submit and rate tutorials for Web 2.0, email and online-marketing issues.
Mixx: Mixx prides itself on being "your link to the Web content that really matters." Submit and rate stories, photos and news to drive traffic to your own site. You'll also meet others with similar interests.
Tweako: Gadget-minded computer geeks can network with each other on Tweako, a site that promotes information sharing for the technologically savvy.
Small Business Brief: When members post entrepreneur-related articles, a photo and a link to their profile appear, gaining you valuable exposure and legitimacy online.
Sphinn: Sphinn is an online forum and networking site for the Internet marketing crowd. Upload articles and guides from your blog to create interest in your own company or connect with other professionals for form new contacts.
BuzzFlash.net: This one-stop news resource is great for businesses that want to contribute articles on a variety of subjects, from the environment to politics to health.
HubSpot: HubSpot is another news site aimed at connecting business professionals.
SEO TAGG: Stay on top of news from the Web marketing and SEO (search-engine optimization) industries by becoming an active member of this online community.
General Social-Media Sites

The following social-media sites provide excellent opportunities for businesses to advertise; promote specials, events or services; and feature published, knowledgeable employees.

Wikipedia: Besides creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, you can connect with other users on Wikipedia's Community Portal and at the village pump, where you'll find conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research and more.
Newsvine: Feature top employees by uploading their articles, studies or other news-related items to this site. A free account will also get you your own column and access to the Newsvine community.
43 Things: This site bills itself as "the world's most popular online goal setting community." By publicizing your company's goals and ambitions, you'll gain a following of customers, investors and promoters who cheer you on as you achieve success.
Wetpaint: If you're tired of blogs and generic Web sites, create your own wiki with Wetpaint to reach your audience and increase your company's presence online. You can easily organize articles, contact information, photos and other information to promote your business.
Twitter: Is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers."
Yahoo! Answers: Start fielding Yahoo! users' questions with this social-media Q&A service. Search for questions in your particular areas of expertise by clicking categories like Business & Finance, Health, News & Events and more. If you continue to dole out useful advice and link your answer to your company's Web page, you'll quickly gain a new following of curious customers.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Branding Lessons:THE WORKSHOP/MADmen Principles for School Principals

Branding Lessons: Madmen Principles to Build School Identity

It’s no longer the sixties, but “admen madmen” are once again flexing their Madison Avenue muscle in 21st century schools, and not just on a popular TV show.

Whether we like it or not, teachers, students, parents and community members are all subject to the influences of BRANDING in modern society, and making use of these subtle but powerful forces can positively impact school culture. Contrary to what educators once imagined, good business and good education can and should mix. What works in business can make for better education, and skillful use of the Madmen principles to create or strengthen a school wide identity can make all the stakeholders in your school more willing participants in a common cause.

Branding is not new in business, but it has now, in the current vernacular, “gone viral." And why? BRANDING is “the implied promise of quality”… And quality is what school customers naturally seek. A quality education, after all, is what promises access to the American Dream, and more so today, than ever before.

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Can a “Madman” Principal or Central Office Leader bring new energy, language and thinking to a district culture through using BRANDING principles?

If you want to be a Madman Principal ask yourself...

Do I care how my school/district is perceived by parents, school board, teachers, students, businesses and community at large?
Do I want new ways to communicate core messages, especially for budgeting and referendums?
Do I want to create a story, put a personal face on my school community and bring it credibly to life?
Do I want to go beyond the selling of my school through its website, logo or mascot?
Do I want to be strategic about “marketing” my school’s brand in social media and through face to face engagement?
Do I want to think more creatively about the Madmen world of BRANDING: Brand Awareness, Brand Platforms, Brand Management, Brand Loyalty, Brand Engagement and Brand Leveraging?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, a two-hour Branding Think Tank is the first step toward your initiation as a “ Madman Principal”. Learn from an educator who has faced the Madness in New York City!

• If you have a brand and want to build curriculum connections in new ways…

• If you want to connect your existing brand messaging to standards and existing schoolwide programs such as character development…

• If you need to build a new brand or strengthen your school’s perceived identity across the community…

• If you welcome discussions with other leaders about bringing stakeholders together around the promise of quality in schools…

Then take the first step. Become a MADMAN PRICIPAL…and enroll in this session.

You’d be CRAZY not to.

Participants are expected to bring examples of their school brand artifacts: website, promotions, sponsorships, awards, publications, logos, etc.

A school educator and businesswoman, the seminar leader is a professional educator and intuitive marketing force. No, not Don Draper, Trish Rubin MA/MGA, a career educator who has worked as a basic skills teacher, reading specialist, literacy coordinator, college adjunct professor, curriculum coordinator, colleague teacher/coach, assistant principal, acting assistant superintendent, developer demonstrator for a nationally funded literacy program in 38 states, author of state literacy standards, cognitive coaching trainer, professional development coordinator, and USA TODAY Education’s national literacy consultant. Ms Rubin’s company, The Edventures Group Intl., is a business development consultancy that works across a wide range of issues with clients from education, business, and professional service. Her clients include schools, law firms, medical providers, retailers, entrepreneurs and small businesses. She is currently the brand manager of a 68 store chain of retail beauty stores, bath junkie. Her private client list includes solopreneurs and people in transition in business. Her book, Trish Rubin’s New York Minute for Networking is a business self-help book for creating connections. She is a professionally accredited speaker who has spoken on Wall Street and at the United Nations, Trish presents regularly to groups on the topic of building social networking skills for business. Her social graph includes linkedin, Twitter and Facebook.

Quality Time 2009

Branding Lessons: MADmen Strategy for Developing a School Brand

A few posts back, I spoke of the TIME factor to develop a brand. Two to Three months seems to be the window in business and for schools

After that, live with the brand. Try it out internally before you even think about moving to Marketing the brand to the community.

As I write my book, "MADmen Principles to Inform School Principals", I'm using some respected frameworks from the PR/Marketing MADmen industry to help shape your powerful message: the value of bringing branding to your school. The book will be a quick read and user friendly. It's a desktop book guide for planning meetings and discussions around the topic of branding a public school. It can serve as a roadmap for introducing a branding concept to build identity for achievement in a school. Remember, if you go this route, you will be leading a new effort , linked to "New Thought" about connecting to "clients". It's a movement that can streamline language, attitude, and action related to genuinely LIVING a school identity/brand for student achievement'

School Branding is informed by the MADmen framework, but even in its definition, School Branding is different from Iconic Branding of COKE and COACH.

"School branding is the collective impressions that a community/clients holds about the school organization's service and product built through ongoing relationships."

Questions for MADmen Principals to explore and act upon are familiar on Madison Avenue, but not as recognized on Main Street...

What is Branding?
What is School Branding?
How to Define the School Brand?
How to Determine the Objectives of Use?
How to Define the Target Audience?
What are Barriers to School Branding?
How to Create a School Brand Packaging?

With these topics in hand, be ready to be A MADman, Mr./Ms Principal

Branding Lessons: Meet A MADman Principal

Someone give me a seatbelt because the ride in public education is getting pretty interesting. I've blogged about marketing, branding, looking to Madison Avenue for Main Street school vision, and even the interesting topic of teachers selling intellectual property online in the form of lesson plans. Pretty jazzy stuff.

Last night before hitting the networking trail to attend a Tribecca book launch, I ate dinner in front of the CBS news and nearly lost my plate. I now need a seatbelt for TV viewing apparently.


Well, as a Jersey girl I can say with pride, New Jersey education has some gems, and I was fortunate see one on TV, a medium that I often miss, and a medium that seems to rarely give the content I am needing.(Aside from AMC's MADmen, of course!) Last night was different. TV delivered. So, I've got a great network of school leaders in New Jersey. These are well respected heavy hitting thought leaders. All of a sudden, I'm looking at the future on my TV screen. And it's Mr Eric Sheninger, Principal of New Milford (and that's NJ, not CT.)

Mr. Sheninger is a MADman Principal; that's what I think. He may be among the first of a special breed that I know is out there in the ranks of educational management. One of the early adopters of being a MADman principal. He's rising to a level of recognition through his savvy and risk taking course of using social media as a meaningful part of high school curriculum. I'll bet the kids love it...he is so on the pulse. Bravo, Eric!

And in 8 months he has built a network of educators on Twitter who are building a brand...a relationship based upon who they are and the value they share educationally with each other. Of course, I started to follow him immediately from my own "TrishBIH" Twitter address. He has kids in seats in the hamlet of New Milford NJ communicating in 140 characters with other students, wth experts, with organizations, to grab valuable content related to their studies with the stroke of a few keys. Ok...I really need a seatbelt! I've got to see this in action. This is what education in the 21st century needs to be about the user...about the relationships we build.

So my work is about building that message for thought leaders...we all can't be on the CBS news, but we all can develop a brand that reaches our "customers" in a blink. A message that isn't captured by a website or a mission statement. I've been on the New Milford High School website and it does have a "warm quality" that other school sites may miss--and a great picture of the principal...but the potential New Milford school brand that I saw last night in the CBS report is bigger than what the website offers.I'm hoping every taxpayer in New Milford is smiling because of that segment.

I saw a brand promise in that spot that would make me move to New Milford if I had school aged kids, and if I didn't have them, I'd think that a school with that kind of vision could only increase my investment in a home in New Milford. Not only school achievement, but Branding and Economics 101 was what I saw in the report...and guess what I was talking about at the Tribecca cocktail party...it wasn't the appetizers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Branding Lessons: A MADman Principal Tests the Water!

I feel confident in my message about branding as I work on my book in NYC. I've scheduled meetings with business people and educators as I craft a useful small book for educational leaders who want to align the thinking about culture to standards and achievement in their school community. The conversations will soon be podcasts and the deepening of the topic of educationally branding a public school community can be enhanced and spread.

Many of my business colleagues like this approach of MADmen Principles for School Principals. They have definite views about how students are being prepared for a work-life future that is rapidly changing, and as the employers of people, people whose jobs will change on average 10 times before they are in their mid thirties, these business leaders want to be part of the conversation. And it isn't good guys vs. bad guys/"adguys".

SO how does a Principal become MAD..a MADman Principal? By testing the water...it's an interesting image since the visual branding of MADMAN for this season featured Don Draper who was sitting in his office with the water rising around him.

If this type of direction suits you. Think of the following as a testing of the water.

1. Do some beginning reading and research into what branding is...
2. Do an informal brand audit by looking at mission statement, logo, website...
3. Start an informal conversation in existing meetings about how a BRAND might help solve a problem at hand...
4. Learn the language of MADmen in branding through research and wikipedia...
5. Start to talk using the brand language as you start the walk...
6. Gather people who like the attitude and brainstorm about the school BRAND
7. Discuss BRAND PROMISE and what your group can deliver with a true organizational personality

If you have momentum, it's time to call me. It takes about two to three months to launch a brand campaign ...and the water may be rising in your district!

Brand of the Moment: Rigoletto Pizza

Ok...I'm using my blog to educate people about Brands and marketing. That goes in many content directions: Thoughtful Content, Interesting People, and Great Branded Places...so the Brand of the Moment captures the Great Branded Places of NY or wherever I roam.

Todays's brand of the Moment is in my neighborhood. 208 Columbus Ave@ 69/70 streets. It's Rigotetto Pizza. The brand promise...THIN crust. Best imported Cheese, Best Quality ingredients. Best Price. This brand delivers on its promise to the point that it has now expanded, doubled its size. It's one of the great NY pizza destinations. I am watching calories and carbs...their whole wheat fresh tomato, no cheese pizza makes dieting EASY!!!! I'm jonesin' one this moment!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's about the Educational Brand Too

Have a quick look at the landscape that you lead schools in....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIFYPQjYhv8

Branding Lessons: Tick Tick Boom!

So what are some of the questions that have bubbled up so far as you think of a BRANDING Campaign in a school setting. I'll bet one goes to TIME.

Private schools and universities have already taken up the MADman approach to developing a REPUTATION. Building a BRAND that is credible is an ROI that hooks to revenue. Public schools may see that as an offshoot of their campaign, but the primary purpose to invest TIME in such an effort is to align the internal organization with the clients it serves in a more personable and customer oriented approach. This bring positive return on investment-- Student achievement being the biggest. The goal of making everything about the kids and their success makes the question of time easy to answer. Who doesn't have time to spend for student achievement in a public school? Time Principles are important for MADmen Principals as they craft a beginning campaign to enhance student achievement through Branding.

1. Take Time to DEFINE what Branding is with the organization.
2. Take Time to deliberately mine what BRAND the school may already be living and restructure it or build it up.
3. Take Time to think about expectations of all involved with the BRAND.
4. Take Time to find the driving reason why the brand needs to be built to fill a need.
5. Take Time to find what makes the school community distinctive and unique.

The journey to developing a brand takes two to three months of meetings, of interviewing, of discussions around the existing artifacts of a potential BRAND campaign. MADMEN need to review mission sttaements, logos, taglines, websites, etc.

The path of spending time, the tick, tick, of intention to build a reputation results in a RETURN on INVESTMENT ...BOOM!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brand Lessons: Marketing Mayhem...It's Happening Already in your Schhols

Yesterday's Metro Section of the NY Times featured a story about public teacher entrepreneurs selling their lesson plans online. Some use the money to support a classroom purchase, much like a bake sale would...others admit that the money is going to mortgage payments and vacations.

It's a challenge to districts because...who owns the plans? Are they made during school time on employee time? At home time? Are they about content that is standards based and the realm of public education? Who monitors the quality of these plans? Lots of issues to resolve here. But I think it goes in the beyond the direction of Branding in schools to Marketing...sales...so isn't it interesting that teachers are sellng their intellectual property...or the school's everyday...online. It's MARKETING folks,pure and simple. And it's in your school.

So my response is to say, that's the new world of education. As my Branding thesis suggests and the song from the Tony award winning show CURTAINS says," It's a Business!" And MADmen principals know that schools are turning into business and turning a profit even without their knowledge.

Again, I want to define that the brand of a district, is its reputation. Is the brand supported by teachers who sell lesson plans online so they can take a trip in the summer? Is it supported as a bold entrepreneurial step?...something that is part of the school bradnd IF all proceeds go back to the kids' classrooms...a brand buzz around "WE make KIDS our BUSINESS "would fit!

Historically schools and businesses haven't shared common ground;at least not so overtly...YET now with the internet, social media and 24/7 access, times have changed. The MADman principal who grasps the need for BRANDING and even MARKETING in a district is on the right track to developing and yes...selling a credible reputation to a niche market..the community.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why Branding LESSONS? Why MADMAN? A new World...

I'm enjoying writing book two, and it feels like a great FIT for me.

The topic is branding as many of you know, and I'm combining my two professional journeys, one in education and one in business to create a book for educators that contributes a text for school leaders that opens up conversations about school culture in a new way. I'm using the MADmen world frame of BRANDING because the powerful social media movement exists as branding online: facebook, myspace, twitter, all create BRANDING opportunities for users. We live in a world of BRANDING. Personal Branding starts even in utero as the cartoon suggests! Ever hear today's parents tortured decision making about names for babies in this new world? They are BRANDING! SHould she be called APPLE or AMY? Get the difference?

Rather than lament this as we as educators can do to when we see monumental change sweeping into our classrooms, let's welcome branding as a powerful tool that can be used to create positive shared language and positive shared attitudes about WHO WE ARE as educators in any school district...and WHY we should be trusted to deliver excellence in service that leads to achievement.

School agendas are thick and heavy with standards and compliances. A fresh direction with a new conversation on branding can help those discussions. Hard issues can be tackled better among people who have a common belief in a brand and in building relationships within the organization; relationships among teachers, staff and managers advance the brand.

The Branding conversation should move out to the public-- the customers; parents, businesses, community members and seniors in order to show the PROMISE of the school brand daily, and HOW is offers each group value. Every yearly budget vote can be empowered to a positive ROI if the Brand of the school is understood, and once the brand has been operationalized, moved into every facet of the community through all sorts of channels, social media, print, word of mouth, positive attitude follows.

It is a brave new world for schools who brand...not at truly a mad mad world!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brand of the MOMENT: Black Dress Traveler

Wanda Mann is the Queen of elegance! She,and her Black Dress Traveller Brand, are the BRAND OF THE MOMENT . Wanda's beautiful event at Jazz at Lincoln Center couldn't have been better. I wouldn't have been anywhere, but there in NYC tonight! A fantastic private cocktail hour , bath junkie, free makeovers...and FRONT ROW Center seats for Wynton Marcelis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra...and are these men attractive as well as talented!!! The amazing big band and jazz music of Marianne Williamson was so special. I wanted to jump from my seat in the front row to the stage and dance! Billy Jean King provided the story of each composition...I'm heading for I tunes!!!

Brand Lessons: What a Brand Promises..The APPLE Store on 67th

Yesterday's last posting was about the APPLE store that will open tomorrow in my neighborhood. APPLE is a prefect example of how a BRAND PROMISE delivers. Apple expects to open 50-70 stores even in this downturn. What have they done to take such an aggressive route? They have defined the benefit they offer to the customer, the consumer develops a relationship based upon expectation, and then Apple delivers again and again. Apple users are evangelical about the brand. I was one of the many who stood in front of the blazing cube of light last evening on 67th and Broadway. As I did, I was reminded of those classic movies in black and white, where people gathered around a TV set in a store front electronics store trying to get a look at something cool on the fuzzy screen.

On Broadway we gathered in front of the towering curtain wall of glass, but what we were seeing wasn't fuzzy. It was simple elegant product arranged on white, stark , modern tables-- hundreds of MAC computers waiting to be played with, and waiting to benefit people's lives, waiting to fuel the economy, waiting to deliver on the brand promise of a hip, cool, user friendly, safe product, and always supportive face to face and online service.

As a MADMAN principal seeking to create or regenerate a brand, spend time thinking of Brand Promise. It's what we do implicitly everyday as leaders. Brand promise is about benefits and expectations and delivering results. All of this is tied to the pressure of school reform and student achievement. Making the Brand Promise part of discussions about a school culture of achievement may spark your ongoing internal effort with teachers, new and seasoned, support staff and fellow administrators.

Let's approach this as building TRUST EQUITY in the organization. If every player in this Branding Push knew exactly what the brand stood for and could articulate it and build trust daily with students, parents, the community and their colleagues, how would that Trust Equity factor improve...maybe as quickly as APPLE's has.

The bumps in administrator's roads often come when trust is broken with the customer/client. As The Chief Operating Officer, you can't be the only one responsible for achievement, for a culture of continuous learning,and a culture of respect.

Breaches of this trust happen every day in the ranks when your people don't know what the brand is or worse, care. They may have created their own brand promise with attitudes and practices that don't fit with the district's vision. Then the phone rings and rings and rings, and it's not good news.. Keeping the brand promise through action and attitude is key to building the trust that keeps the branding effort genuine and on track.

When a new hire walks into a faculty room, would you want them to be hit with the..." We don't do it THAT way", intimidating
message. That comes from operating in a vacuum, Having a strong brand promise assures that from the newest hire to the nearly pensioned, people know what they are charged to deliver, to promise...and they "over-deliver" that benefit every day. They can even be measured on it.

Trust is built through building on a brand's promise. And an exciting brand attracts the best. People flock to work at APPLE. And I haven't had a single instance where any of these employees has not delivered, and I'll bet nobody tells an APLLE new hire, we don't do it THAT way here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apple Store Upper West Side Opens Saturday!

Ok, The Brand of the Moment is a giant... Apple !!!

The Upper West Side Apple store opens on November 14th!!! My neighborhood just got even more amazing. Alice Tully's incredible space on 66th and now the Apple store...the neighborhood is full of light from these two amazing shimmering palaces of bright light. Apple wants to open 50-70 new retail stores this year...I LOVE it...if it's 24 hours I may never sleep!!!

Brand Lessons: MADmen Principals Brand a Better School Culture from the Inside Out

If you've been listening, you are getting the sense of why BRANDING, a MADmen Principle from MAD MADison Avenue, should be part of every administrator's vision for sustaining or restoring a school culture. Branding is about building relationships, knowing what you stand for, and agreement to deliver on that promise.

Doesn't sound too crazy to me. Doesn't sound like "adspeak". It sounds genuine and it sounds necessary for leaders to act upon.

Still I talk with people who think BRANDING is MARKETING, and the feel uncomfortable with that sales concept. I tell them not to worry, educators are great at marketing...selling education to the masses, standards and testing...it's all about marketing

So briefly, and if you are trying to get your head around using this branding model as part of your professional toolbox, schools need a branding model today to invigorate culture quickly. Spending time brainstorming about branding, facilitating thinking and finally clarifying a school brand is time well spent. The language and attitude that shifts positively in the process of understanding and building a brand is an end in itself. And if that's all that happens on the inside of a school organization, fine. People will recognize themselves as part of something and that impacts behavior positively from new hires to "lifers". Now when you want to Sell your built BRAND to the community...that's marketing!

an audit about what you stand for

defining the total experience of your customer, consumer, client with your service

an action item that goes to what you promise to deliver, and people's expectations

a visual image of positive signals and your effort to make them pervasive

MARKETING is something else. When you bring your brand to the audience to sell, to the bigger stage...you are marketing. Another worthwhile endeavor. But one step at a time folks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Branded Love...Rumi

Well..For the Brand of the Moment...what I found on he wall of MAMA Mexico...a brand of love and devotion for the ancients..and at home on the Upper West side...Rumi.


As a former middle school teacher, I am keenly aware of the "Turn Off "factor. The challenge of keeping a 13 year old's attention...a room full of 13 year olds, in fact, has been a training ground to me as a presenter, a consultant, a writer. Add in three experiences with my own kids going through their teens, and I will set myself up, a la Lucy in Peanuts with My sign: The Doctor is in! That's why this post is here.
It's not just 13 year olds who ignore; the new age of media has shortened our attention.

So who's my niche market in my "doctor's office/blog "? The Ignoration Nation, that means anyone who feels bombarded my the" too much information age", and has tried to sift, to select, to discipline themselves in receiving information, but still comes up feeling bewildered by the proliferation of stuff to know, see, and process.

As the visual suggests, you may feel you just have had enough and are in information free fall or flight!

Well, just being a blogger smacks of contributing to the internet rabbit hole that any Alice or Alan can fall into on any day of the week, so I will point to the idea of being relevant . No this isn't a Goodle Adsence driven site.There is good content for branding here. As consumers of information we must manage the knowledge, the content, that is available. It presents a time drain, and we are time poor in the 21st Century .On the other hand, creating the best content is another challenge. How do we as brand developers get our brand message across to those who are part of the IGNORATION NATION, and could benefit from our service?

As you work toward Understanding Branding and Building a Better Brand for your Organization, here's a few touchpoints:

KNOW WHY YOU ARE BRANDING---It should be based on your need to build relationships. Don't become part of an internet "Echo Chamber" by putting out stuff that is only relevant to you or the people with whom you are working . Branding is about touching people. Marketing research says it takes, on average, 8 touchpoints to deliver brand loyalty.

CREATE A SIMPLE MESSAGE THAT HOLDS POWER---The KISS principle here. And think of the superficial trappings like LOGOS and COLORS and TAGLINES as visuals that can get people's attention. I've included the powerful MADMEN image in this posting. It's a version of he original shadow figure. Powerful visual.

CREATE VEHICLES THAT SUPPORT THE BRAND--- A short relevant newsletter, not endless text, can continue to bring the brand home to clients or customers. The direct email that gives value, a link to good information, a partner offering a discount or service. Make sure any content you use is the result of educated research, make the information irresitible in your branding campaign and your brand with ring with credibility.

As you begin to bring your winning, connected brand to your market, understand the challenges that you face. Knowing how your market gets its information and sifts this information will inform your developing brand. The IGNORATION NATION won't stand a chance against a brand that hits the mark and delivers its brand promise over and over. Just ask GOGGLE, COKE, NIKE. Last time I checked ...most people weren't ignoring them.