Welcome back to school! Educators...you have a powerful teachable moment in the early days of a new school year to create an authentic, energized communication link to your stakeholders through a well-defined brand.
The Opening Bell
As you throw open the door of your building for the year, see the array of new clothes, backpacks, lunch bags and devices that reflect the consumer choices of kids, parents, teachers and staff. Be a careful observer this year of brand. You will learn about your community as you study. Get right into the halls, with new eyes meet the buses and see the micro-tribes of big corporate brands. Don't be afraid to recognize the power of those brands. See the impact on your stakeholders. Talk to the owners about their choices. These brands can teach you how to start building your own channels to new messaging that improves your school culture, performance and relationships. Brands tap into emotions with stories that build connection. You are a consumer too. Think about what you are wearing that is a brand choice for YOUR first day of school. And where did you stop for that coffee on your way in? What's the story about that connection?
I'm telling you not to miss the chance as the opening bell rings to harness lessons from big brands as they have built" loyalty and belonging" among your own stakeholders...hmmm these are great elements of a successful school year. It's time to brand build for your school success. But how to do it at this busy time of year? Simple.
This is how to launch:
1. DO as I DO...Nike famously said, " Just Do it!" They were right. You have to be a model for brand development if you want to build an engaged school community. Knowing who the community is as a tribe is part of the school brand journey. Keep observing. You need to know your tribe. To launch a school journey, you must first create your own educator personal-professional brand and take it out for a test drive. In BrandED, Tell your Story, Build Relationships, Empower Learning we give you a strategy from business brand building, A SWOT, that works like a charm for personal brand building. So just do it... Do a short SWOT analysis and reflect of your STRENGTHS, what you have going, your WEAKNESSES, what you want to build, your OPPORTUNITIES, what you can develop positively, and your THREATS, what's challenging you. Write a short reflection on each of those areas. That's Step ONE.
2. Capture the WHY...Hallmark card's mission statement speaks to their goal of "Making a genuine difference in life everyday". Get quickly to your why for your personal professional brand as you take your SWOT and condense it into 2 lines that speak to the WHY of what you are about as you educate your community into a brandED mindset. This statement can be part of your first public references to brand development. Don't be afraid to be the storyteller-in-chief here as you tell a short story of yourself and your why. Don't shy away from talking about Brand development in the first days of school. You have a perfect window with the spankin' new brands that are surrounding you in classrooms, hallways, parking lots, playgrounds to start expressing your own brand why short story out of your SWOT reflection. As an educational leader my personal brand why is:
" Connecting school leaders to communication messaging that benefits the future of schools and their communities in a fast changing world."
It's one line, but I've been doing this a long time. It addresses my thinking about strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Please feel free to create the 2 or even 3 line statement. Like Hallmark, take that view of how your unique why can be demonstrated everyday and use your statement. That's Step TWO.
3. Be the Energy... Dunkin's "America runs on Dunkin'" suggests community power. A whole country, a tribe of coffee drinkers, feels the energy of powering their day together. Less is more in sparking that energy, so look at your Why statement and now get really tight...capture who you are in a one word brand. Then get out there and claim it with the actions and messages that are the stories of your word. Visit classrooms, go to meetings, make phone calls, introduce yourself in that one word brand. It worked for Volvo...their legacy one word is TRUST. My word is SPARK. Others I know identify with GRIT, RESILIENT, AGILE, CURIOUS.... you choose you word and then find the channels to broadcast your personal professional brand, face to face, on your email signature, on your social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, newsletter, on your business card or blog to name a few outlets.To spread the word about brand in your community, find your brand curious stakeholders...students, teachers, parents, staff even community members and challenge them to create their personal one word brand to share. Open the conversation of making this a whole school endeavor during the year. Start the engine to developing a whole school brand. That's Step THREE.
Don't miss the opening of school when the positive power of brand surrounds you. If you want to SPARK a school brand that will power your messages, making them engaged and authentic in our digital world. Educators must create a school brand and help it evolve over the school year. IT STARTS WITH YOU.