The Gow School Proves Small Schools Can Have Powerful Brands

Chosen because branding can be a daunting process for any school, let alone a small one. The Gow School embraced both the process and the results.

You might think that schools that serve distinct populations wouldn't have to establish their brand in order to distinguish themselves. Not so. There may be fewer peer schools in their universe, but their star needs to shine just as brightly. The Gow School, which serves students with dyslexia and similar language-based learning differences, understands this. Realizing the need for branding, it engaged in an inclusive process, which resulted in brand messaging that resonates with the community because it came from the community.

But Gow didn't stop at just "doing branding" (a pitfall for many schools, which conduct the exercise, cross it off their list, and let the results languish on a shelf somewhere). The school ran with it, implementing the brand in a new viewbook and website redesign, hiring staff to shepherd the brand, and reinforcing messaging to internal and external audiences. Whether to prospective families or alumni, Gow is clearly and regularly communicating what it does best.

Gow's twitter feed rallies the community with #gowunited

Gow's twitter feed rallies the community with #gowunited

Some examples:

  • On the Gow homepage, a rotating series of photos trumpet the brand messages, which are reinforced on interior pages.
  • Gow hired a new full-time Associate Director for Marketing, Communication & Branding who is applying the brand in varied vehicles to all constituencies.
  • "Gow United," one of the brand messages, has become part of email signatures, a phrase used on campus, a powerful Twitter hashtag, and even an enamel button given to donors.
  • Gow's headmaster, Brad Rogers, uses brand messaging in his speeches.

And lest you think that a school needs to be big (with a big budget) to develop and implement a successful brand, you should know that Gow has only 150 students. In this case, small means nimble. As in most things in life, when it comes to a brand, it's all about commitment.

The Gow homepage rotates through their brand messages.

The Gow homepage rotates through their brand messages.

Listen to InspirED's podcast with Gow's Head of School, Brad Rogers, on "Investing in Marketing for the Long Term."

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Andrea Lehman

STRATEGIST, WRITER, AND EDITOR  Andrea Lehman is a freelance marketing strategist, writer, and editor for independent schools and colleges as well as for travel guides. Author of Fodor’s Around Philadelphia with Kids, she previously was Editorial Director of the School Division (college and independent secondary school guides) for Peterson's Guides. She and her daughters are the proud products of terrific independent school educations.