Monday, November 09, 2009

Branding Lessons: Mining the Emotional Trigger to Define School Identity

Say Disney. Say NIke. Say Tiffany. Say Godiva. Now sit back and feel the magic. One of those brands or more than one has immediaely created an emotion in you.

Say Enron. Say Bernie Madoff.Say Bear Sterns .See the difference?

So If you are still wondering why you should care about understanding branding as a school leader, repeat the above exercise. See if the result doesn't lead you into valuing the power of branding and learning more about MADmen principles. See if you can think of brands, business or personal brands, that carry split second emotional response. They hold brand triggers. research says it takes about 9 seconds to know whether we want to engage with someone in face to face situations. Knowing if we want to engage with a brand though logo recognition is even quicker.

Say Paris Hilton. See what I mean?

If a school organization becomes more attuned to the market that it serves, it can use that awareness to create the school brand as an emotional trigger that promotes brand loyalty. Your chosen brand therefore, must not be taken on lightly. It must be a genuine match to the organization. It must be more than the logo. It must go immediately to a promise. The development of the brand should be intentionally mined over at least three months, so that when the process of BUILDING the brand is begun, the implied promise that the brand suggests will be easier to demonstrate, especially around key decision making times in a school calendar.

Branding is an implied promise. Getting the buy in from the community of teachers, students parents and administrators as they brand in developed is key. Going beyond the commercialization of schools, the emotional connection each of the groups has to the brand can make the promise easier to deliver. In schools, even more than in business, I think a key to finding a trigger is to mine the question, "Why do I like being here?" As a student, as an employee, as a homeowner...the question gets to emotional connection that can be the foundation of early talks on building the school brand.

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