How to Win the Branding Race

I am thrilled that so many of you super school marketers are honing your school’s brand and articulating what makes the school distinctive for both internal and external audiences. You are awesome.

But before you open the brand starting gate and let that colt run around the track, be sure that there's firm footing for the traction he needs to reach the finish line.

Like a racehorse, brands need backers. In the case of school brands, this means the backing of the head of school and the board of directors—both in dollars and in clout.

Everyone needs to understand the brand, buy into it, and be willing to promote it. In addition to the head and board, this means faculty, administration, and staff, with parents and alumnae/i following close behind.

Branding isn’t like the Kentucky Derby. It’s not even like the Preakness. It’s like the Belmont Stakes where endurance separates the winners and losers. 

The Trainer
Vital to developing the brand, the director of marketing communications should report to the head of school or director of advancement (not development) in order to have his or her finger on the pulse of the school.

The Jockey
Without a brand jockey, this horse ain’t going nowhere. Put an organized communications person with great writing and interpersonal skills in the saddle, and give him or her the reins... and the final say on matters relating to the brand.

The Right Stable
Members of the communications team do the feeding, grooming, and exercising of the brand. They should be in one space so they can collaborate and confer quickly and easily, and it should be close to the head of school so they know what they need to know.

The Owner
Remember: it's the school's brand, not any one person's brand. Nothing personal here.

A Generous Purse
Make sure that the communications office has the budget to get the job done. That includes enough money to get people out of the stable for professional development and to see what others are doing.

Split Times and Racing Form
Create a school-wide marketing plan, institute tracking, and assess results. Discard what isn’t working and try something new.

You're a thoroughbred. You can win the branding race. Get yourself into the brand winner's circle.

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