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.

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