If you’re thinking about branding and how to market your school (and who isn’t these days?) then it’s good to have a strong agreed upon sense of who you are, how you show who you are and what people actually think.
Where are you?
So try this quick test with your board, your admin team and the faculty. You can also try it with your parents and students when you’re ready to start engaging in the conversation around change.
Easy of course to make fun of both ends. One is hopelessly outdated, fuddy-duddy and not meeting the needs of children. And the other end is forever chasing the latest new and shiny thing and not meeting the needs of children.
And in terms of program, the 1 schools probably devote time to cursive writing, teach Latin, emphasize grammar, have tons of AP courses and talk a great deal about grade inflation and enforcing the dress code. And 10 schools spend their time fighting off accusations of permissiveness and failure to teach basic skills while putting in the state-of-the-art design thinking studio. And both are implementing mindfulness because students in 1 schools need a break from the testing, grading and exam stress and in 10 schools because it’s trendy and goes with the gluten-free organic options at lunch.
And so on. So complete the descriptors your way.
So try it with your group. Is there a general agreement on where your school is on the continuum?
Where do you want to be?
Now ask this: Where do you want to be? And get everyone to jot down the number before the sharing. Now where are you?
If the two numbers are close then the work is to uncover what that actually means at your school and work on doing it even better. Then getting the word out on the why, the how and the what for.
If there’s a big gap – or if your numbers are all over the place – then you need to do work around your identity. And there’s a clear need educate folks as to who you are, what you do, and why.
And what if the numbers from the board are way out of sync with the faculty and admin, let alone the families and the neighborhood reputation?
What if in the course of this exercise it becomes clear that your school is nowhere really? And that in trying to please everyone you have become the all-things-to-all-people-school? Most marketing and communication experts would probably tell you that’s a recipe for disaster.
Watch this space for what you can do about that.
The featured image is from 58 Flavors (Parade Series); by Grace Gardner c. 1982.