School mottos, taglines or slogans may seem like an afterthought when looking at marketing a school, but nothing can be further from the truth. In the mind of prospective parents, it is important to apply the proper theories of branding, and a proper tagline helps immensely.
Why taglines matter
The first interaction a prospective parent as with your school is the school's name. A school name like Oregon Episcopal School (OES) denotes many pieces of information: firstly that the school is geographically located in Oregon, and that it is large enough and well-known enough to hold the name of the state. This may not always be true, but the simple name denotes "size", and "importance". Secondly, the name will indicate a religious affiliation. A tagline will help to extend the branding image that the name can have. OES' tagline is "Always Open". These two very simple words connote transparency, accessibility, and availability. The total of five (5) words have a substantial effect on the school's brand. They tell a story with immense efficiency.
More examples: La Salle Prep, Portland, OR
This private Catholic preparatory school has the motto: "Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve." This brilliantly explains their mission and values. They are telling you that you may enter as a student for no other reason than to learn, but they are looking to transform you into a person looking to serve. It's more than simply that; the expression has the opposites "Enter/Leave" connoting the idea of transformation as you pass through the school. There is a sense from these words that the school is looking to equip you for the world. The secondary expressions of Learn/Serve are not in contrast, but they show the two sides of the school's goals: education and service.
Jesuit High School, Beaverton, OR
Their tagline is "Education as formation and Transformation". The school is very obviously a Catholic School, as is seen in their name, but their motto helps prospects understand their goal a little more. The idea is that they offer "Education", but the goal is to change ("Transformation") the individual student. This simple motto is actually a definition of their view of education; it is to form the child and transform their lives.
Don't use the same old tired cliches
When looking to create a school's motto or even a tagline for a campaign, make sure to not use the old cliches. Taglines like: Making Your Child’s World Better, No child should be left behind, Opportunities For Lifelong Learning, Preparing Students For Success In A Changing World or even Putting Children First are quite tired and have lost all effectiveness. Choose a tagline that fits with the school's mission. Is your mission about openness? then use words like open, clear, free, and direct. If your school is Christian, then use words like Christ, values, service, Bible, and faith.
Remember that in the end if your tagline is Education is power, you might as well not have one.