A school leader today needs to have a heartfelt talk with a business leader any day of the week. Why? They have so much in common. In a transparent digital world, their respective leadership missions now must include a new, essential ability to CREATE and DELIVER communication messages in an engaged way with their respective public audiences so a two-way positive communication loop forms... a never ending story of connection. It's true in business and it's true in school leadership. So welcome to a leadership world that is flattened, making the learning opportunities for schools and business communication endless.
Here's a few simple, effective ways that I've seen business design the experience of a branded service or product to make people fall in love, in loyalty or just in line with messaging that is authentic. It's what I teach to marketing majors and what I bring to the organizations I serve... that includes schools. There are smart " edge dwelling" school leaders who are already reaping the benefit of brandED leadership and understanding how "User Experience" or "UX" is growing their school brand value.
Three Simple Steps into User Experience for School Leaders...
1. YOUR PERSONAL PROFESSIONAL BRAND IS SET...NOW START MAKING RELATIONSHIPS FOR USER EXPERIENCE
Leaders in school need to open conversations with their colleagues, the leaders across professions. Once your personal professional brand is set, you can test it immediately. Time to learn from others who are like you and unlike you. You can fashion a "User Experience" mindset to promote your organizations by connecting outside the schoolhouse. How to find relationships? Analogue still offers brand savvy leaders the real time opportunities of face to face or phone to phone conversations. Schedule at least two daily for 10 minutes with people you want to know better. Introduce your brand journey to them. At the start of the school year, leaders can consciously use their personal circle , family, association ties, neighborhood connections, health club networks, mom and pop store connections, and places of worship to promote the story of building a personal brand in service to creating a school brand. Ask: "Who do you know that might help me help my school ?" In a digital complement, leaders need to open a LinkedIN profile. It's a sorely missed channel to finding resources to building connections for a school leader. Most educators haven't seen the value in the connection, but in these leadership times your circle must be an ever expanding network of possible digital connections and a platform with so much to offer in communication like LinkedIn can not be missed. Open up a Linked IN profile and in DIY style get coached from the resource of video and articles to create your relational profile. One day you may even set up a blog on that profile to attract more network and relational power. For now, just get on the platform and show up.
2. GROW INTERNAL SUPPORT FOR A USER EXPERIENCE MINDSET.
Tell your ownstory of brand building as a bridge to creating a school "User Experience" mindset that is part of our digital age. Talk to your internal organization of teachers and staff about the power of having a brand that engages loyalty, that creates well-being. It's a step into social psychology that is discussed in BrandED. We know from brain research that emotions make connection. Look out at your early gatherings at your school meetings and advocate for creating a clear brand that connects to the experience of being part of the school community. The design of the school physical spaces, the website, the connection to kids and parents can eventually be linked to the brand your school builds. The experiences the community has with building the brand become the first script for stories. The user experiences of all those who come in contact with the services, products and benefits of the school brand are the stories that define. Be an edge dweller in those early meetings. Enlisting the internal community in co-creating the brand, find those who want to describe their own user experience as teachers, staff members, andadministrators. They can tell the positive stories that create emotion and connection that links to well being--a positive user experience. Starting with the internal organization that is empowered by brand, the internal community can demonstrate how their "stakeholder facing" positive brand voice reaches to the community and forms loyal connections. As an aside, bringing some hot baked goods into those meetings can help...marketers know that the sense of smell is a powerful connector to positive experience!
3. A THOUSAND SMALL TOUCHES CAN CREATE A WEALTH OF BRAND USER EXPERIENCE
When Michael Eisner talked about brand, years ago he said it best for today's digital user experience... " A brand is a living entity and is enriched or undermined cumulatively over time, the product of a thousand small gestures. School leaders have the responsibility to build internal awareness among their staff touse their digital and analogue savvy to offer a "User Experience" to stakeholders that is based on touch points that happen everyday in schools-- touch points that are shared with pride through many channels. It's now a competitive world of choice in education. Your school's unique brand value is experienced by users who can help you spread the story of your school and keep your community vibrant, intact and loyal. If leaders think of the number of students, staff, and parents they can enlist through celebrating the user experience in small gestures through digital and real time, the thousand threshold isn't a reach! You don't have to wait for a Friday night football game, a big dance, or a science fair to create a memorable user experience that can be a product that illustrates a strong school brand. The community can promote through their own experiences using their own channels, which is how they behave when they loyaly engage with a favorite product or service.
Co-create the "User Experience" and your community will spread the word of your school brand!