Welcoming Brand: 3 Simple Ways to Start your School Brand Engine in the First Days of School

Photo by Rawpixel/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by Rawpixel/iStock / Getty Images

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.

 

Brand Consumer to BrandED Builder: 3 "Brand Sure" Ways to Start your Storyteller-in-Chief Journey

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As the photo of my Baruch Marketers, all holding marketing materials for my book BrandED, with Eric Sheninger, shows shows, Brand is never far from my mind professionally and personally. School leaders who are reading and reviewing our book this summer...even on the beach... are getting ready to take on the Storyteller-in-Chief mantle for leading their schools that will bring them into a new world of communication with stakeholders. Today I heard that the book is "user friendly" Thanks to  principal Neerja Pujabi from the Peel School District ON  for that view. It inspired me to do a short post that can help people move more quickly into the role of school brand champion before summer is over. It's simple to take this on if you start with reflecting on being a CONSUMER of BRAND before you become a BUILDER of BrandED. Ask yourself:

" How have brands impacted me and secured my LOYALTY?"

Once you identify a few ways that the "MadMen" have used to enlist you as a loyal CONSUMER of brand, you can adapt those strategies to a school brand while you are  executing as a BUILDER of brandED.  So how do they do this?

Here's THREE "BRAND SURE WAYS" to Adapt!

1.BRANDS INTERRUPT OUR PATTERN

If you want to bring the power of brand communication, you have to step out into Business as UNUSUAL. Think about how you usually get people's attention at the start of the school year and DO SOMETHING UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT that calls attention to your brand strategy. Corporate Brands are masterful at  shifting people's behavior patterns. and you need to INTERRUPT the pattern of perception of your stakeholders by doing something different at the start of school. Do a video instead of a newsletter, ride a scooter into your opening day... whatever it takes.

 

2. BRANDS CREATE WELL-BEING

In our book, we spend time talking about social science and well -being...why? Because people gravitate to what they trust and know. When you add something new like brand to your leadership style, balance it against what is known and trusted and comfortable. Start with the familiar identity system of your logo and school colors and then drill down into finding out the intangible feelings that identity system represents. What does it mean to be a LEWIS INDIAN? I was part of that Identity system when I taught middle school, but it really needed to go beyond the logo and tagline to what are the intangibles of that identity were in order to get the best of culture, performance and resources for the school. Brands lean into stories and find the ones that powerfully build emotion--then they share them! Don't be humble. Amplify out of that feeling of trust. Start hunting for the stories behind your school brand...those that have been going on this summer and share them immediately as part of a brand plan.

3.  BRANDS ARE ABOUT BENEFITS 

IN brandED we think about neuroscience because marketing and brands are experts in the conscious and unconscious development of ties to their audience. Why did you buy that $7.00 cup of  Starbucks coffee and not the $1.00 Mc Donalds' version? You get some sort of brand benefit that is truly intangible.( especially to me because I love DUNKIN'!) Brands lead our imagination to a place where we get benefits from our buy. School leaders who focus on the feelings and emotions of storytelling are going after the benefits to  brand loyalty. Understand you have leadership opportunities to build loyalty that improves your community culture by  starting a school year brand strategy that impacts the prefrontal and reptilian sections of your stakeholders' brains. It's not manipulation... it's information that can help you TELL and not SELL, which is the root of brandED thinking. 

 

Exactly Where I'm Supposed to Be... A Study Abroad CASE STORY

                                                             Guest Blogger, Justine Delaunay

                                                             Guest Blogger, Justine Delaunay

When I speak to the community of Study Abroad global professionals about marketing their school's benefits with the help of their students' positive experience, Justine comes to mind. Instructors who have the H2H...Human2Human view of teaching hold an untapped resource for retention. Justine's experience confirms that caring and sharing are true marketing tools in a digital age. I'm happy to introduce her to you as she describes her study abroad experience at Baruch College. I'm sure she is amplifying her experience to her network!  Along with my partners in thought leadership, Irene Tieh, global education strategist, and Angel Ahmed of GNET Global Network, we use the term "CASE STORIES" as we present strategies to recruit and retain students. Justine's experience is a CASE STORY full of reasons why the Baruch community presented great resources to her that she is proud to share! 

 

                                    Why I Chose to Study Abroad in New York… a Place that Cares!

My name is Justine DELAUNAY. I’m a Communication & Marketing student and I’m excited to share my study abroad story.

I define myself as a passionate millennial. I’m curious about everything. I love studying and I realized that we never forget what we learn with pleasure. I seek the things that make my heart smile and I’m constantly learning. I learn from people I meet, I listen to their stories and I share mine. As a Digital Native, I follow trends and I do my best to understand the information I get and use it in a meaningful way. I love to travel, read and eat really, really good food. Let me share why chose to come to New York and show you  how valuable an international studies experience can be to a student.

A short six months ago, I decided to cross the ocean to discover and live the American life, to study and work in New York. I did one semester in Baruch College where I had the chance to learn from the best instructors I’ve met. From Brand Management to Web marketing & Integrated Social Media and Data Management, I learned so much in 4 months. Indeed, what I was used to during my 3 years of classes in France was so different from the way I studied in Baruch College. Not only are Baruch  instructors  passionate about what they do, they care about you, your aspirations and how their students can take the best from their classes. I’ve never felt this vibration, this strong feeling during a college class. A feeling that was telling me that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. From there, I enjoyed and listened. In every single class, I learned and met incredible people. During my semester, we had the chance to go out and see the real world of New York City business from Madison Avenue to Wall Street.  We visited the unique and highly regarded marketing agency, Sparks & Honey,  where we learned that connecting with people is the most important thing in business. We also worked for a mobile fundraising company rethinking its digital strategy. We listened to amazing marketers who helped us understand the real meaning of Marketing. One even said that for him, “Marketing is like a suit.” Marketing is all about the right fit for doing business!

After 4 months in New York City I returned to France with ambitions and big dreams that were fired by my study abroad experience at Baruch. Trish Rubin, who was teaching my class Brand Management, kept writing me, giving me advice and encouraging me in so many ways. In her last publication "BrandED", she talks about the importance of finding your virtual mentor. Well, I found mine. Because no one ever believed in me the way she does. After studying Brand Management with Trish, I understood that education is about connecting with people, spreading happiness to help individual’s growth.

After New York, I’ve seen opportunities coming from everywhere. I learned that if you show an honest interest in what people do, they will be ready to listen to your story. I am growing my brand. This is how I started to connect with editors-in-chief of online magazines, creative directors, artists… I learned about what they do and  I told them who I am. Little by little we realized what we could do for each other. Ivan Misner said: “People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” This is it. Virtually connecting with people is showing me that my voice counts and that with passion, curiosity and patience, door will open to great opportunities.  

Determination and self-confidence is something New York City taught me. As students, we must realize the range of opportunities and the time we have. It’s precious. Believing in myself completely changed my life, and Trish Rubin has something to do with it.

Bring the Romance Back to Leading: Three ways to Create Heart for Change

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Once upon a time in America,  TV wasn't a 24/7 source of entertainment. Black & white TV broadcasting stopped at a late hour each night respectfully allowing Americans to rest. It was a stressful time for adults and kids with the possibility of atomic attack threatening post WW2 lives. Americans needed their sleep and endless broadcasting of breaking news wasn't a glimmer in any programmer's eye. Each morning Americans woke to an expected reveille of sorts in front of a TV static test pattern. A few years into this watershed communication era, product line extension featured color TV, and more programming filled the night. 

Change happened in those days as this evolution of TV shows us, but the future beckoned in those days in a way that was romantic. Black and white TV's were the window into that future. In those bygone days we were protected as we faced those future visions of what was out there for us. The messages on TV were about being  patient. We saw the promised land of products and services, but the tone was "Get Ready" because the best is yet to come.  We set our sights on it, saved for it and imagined how good it could be when it came. From where I sat as a kid, the vision of a Jetson's like-world promised a romantic view of what life would be for me. Now, as I Skype my conferences and speak to a virtual assistant it seems worth the wait.

Today, the age of impatience is here, coupled with an age of acceleration in tech and media. Wait? Who waits? Change happens at a rate that is close to breakneck speed, taking with it our time to romanticize the future, and robbing us of the opportunity to get  ready for what is coming, We've lost the chance to think our way into believing what lies ahead is better than what we are experiencing which is important in changing an attitude and action. I teach this historic view as I teach international business students about marketing and see its application to leading.

I think leadership today has lost its edge in the romance department.

 

ROMANCING LEADERSHIP

Because of the rapid pace of change. Romance, the ultimate feeling of well-being that was a large part of a pre-digital world, has gone missing making life harder for agents of change today. Who has the time for romancing the future? In the world of social relationships any app will create a reasonable facsimile of romance in a matter of minutes. But that's not where organizations need to go with their future ready eye to change. An app is not going to create the human to human or H2H feeling that helps organizations grow.  A leader with an eye on romancing the near future could try out that classic view of being future oriented with a bit of patience. Remember Yogi Berra's quote, "The future ain't what it used to be!"  So true today because of the galloping rate of change that is part of modern life. We are leading our organizations into territory of robotics, VR and AR with little time to process the change these exciting tools bring. How can we lead our teams into this time rapid change? 

 Creating a commitment to well being through change and fostering some small but human behaviors can help you show the love that a fast-paced multi- generational workplace needs. Put a bit of romance, a throwback to an earlier time, into your leadership. These three touch points can inspire without buying everyone on your team  flowers and candy.

1. Create Well-being  The field of social science is a place to access  strategies that develop well-being in this tumultuous time. Neuroscience thought leaders and their content are available to you on Twitter and through platforms like Medium. Do some DIY work on brain research and give yourself a solid grounding. You will see your time spent on building well-being is worth it. It takes you back to a classic point of development for change. Don't think of leading change as a pitch or a sales job. Look at it as a change to tell the story of where the organization is and the story of the near future. Be the story-teller-in chief. Use the research on getting people into "The Zone" for change using a supportive model like Seligman's PERMA model featured in brandED. Work by Adam Grant is also an access point around creating well being. His book Give and Take is a great place to start. 

2. Think H2H  Leaders in business use a Business to Business (B2B) or a Business to Consumer (B2C) model as they develop change.  Bryan Kramer's work  is as close to being romantic in leadership as you can get. Human to Human behavior (H2H) is needed as we look ahead into our future of machines in the workplace. Look ahead to a world where "HR Dept of Machine Interface" will exist. How do we meet the change that brings this evolution of co-working with machines and more into our workplace.? We do it by valuing our human brand. Leading with an eye on the romanticizing the human experience as we move toward interfacing with efficient machines and robotics is essential. Personal brand development is needed for leading and building teams. As change occurs threading that value through leadership will distinguish  any leader 

3. The Power of Small  Wherever you are leading...in a start up, a school, a company take the romantic view of the small moments to heart. They create big gains in your organization. The pressure to innovate is high in the accelerated age. The power of new is upon us and  the noise of constant new ideas competes across media channels for our leadership attention. Don't get pressured into riding the wave of the next big thing that comes across your screen. Great leaders know how to tune out the shiny objects and dig into the small, classic pieces that are working in their organization and then refreshing them rather than getting into the next big thing. There are plenty of new things in the near future that look interesting to you, but first take a deep dive into what is the core of your product or service and do as the Sparks & Honey  cultural trend agency shows us. They offer support in following trends in an element of culture called the "Refreshed Classic". It's quite a romantic thing these days to be seen as a classic, even in a rapidly moving time. 

 Use approaches like these and pace yourself through new times as a classic leader.  What is often missing in change is the heart for it on the part of your organization. Adding a bit of business romance may help you create some magic in your role as change agent. 

School Brand Building: 5 Steps to Belonging

It’s simple. The concept of brand can be stated in one word: Belonging.

Belonging is a central part of the human experience. In a word, belonging is a simple  one word answer to the reason for building of a successful school brand.

The feeling of belonging ties a range of ideas found in busy schools. Creating an idea that unifies, one that will sustain belonging is work. Today we are seeing value attached to brand building in schools. What took us so long? The great brands of today create belonging in our daily life. Many of us claim we belong to the Apple, Google, Nike, Starbucks brands. We are loyal to those brands and serious about our conscious and unconscious devotion.  Brand is a powerful communicator of belonging. Why not use the same path in education?Adapting brand in schools  increases the feeling of connectivity in a school community. Here are 5 steps to embrace belonging in the process of building a school brand community. A brand leader can come from any part of the school,but  brand building  is a collective experience.

1.     Awareness – The world is a noisy oversaturated place of endless messages. Schools are part of that world. The school community consumes messages, but also must create  a range of persuasive messages in a digital and social era. Stakeholders, internal and external, want to be connected  in traditional, digital and social exchanges. Good content that comes from across every part of the school will create a community that offers that feeling of safety and belonging to all members. Become aware. Start with the “why” of branding. A best practice comes from  leaders building a personal professional brand and  getting the community’s attention for brand building with their own one word brand. Leaders, both administrators and teacher leaders can deliver on the value of their own one word brand for the community at formal meetings or casual school events.  Introduce the concept through a model and gain early brand ambassadors or pioneers. Leaders can write about brand in newsletter, through a leadership  blog, or in a video on a school website to get the attention of the community and build awareness for belonging through brand.

2.     Differentiation--- Following the “why” of being part of a brand effort, spend time building a school brand with a collection of people. Imagine what is unique and special to those who experience the brand every day. Schedule time with stakeholders including kids, staff, teachers, and parents to seek their help in describing what’s different about the school. Use a short survey to those in the community who are aware of brand. Their participation can make them brand pioneers. Collect a bit of data on what’s different about the school that can lead to creating messaging about the brand . The school’s authentic brand is the magnet for belonging. Finding the difference a school provides is necessary step  to crafting a school brand.  Why would anyone want to belong to something if they didn’t understand the core, the beliefs and the essence that sets it apart from others? What makes the school different, its reason for being, is a powerful way to unify  across the community.

3.     Articulation --- Identifying,” Unique brand Value”  the difference of the school, leads to telling the  story of a school in an authentic way.  Articulation fuels belonging. Who will engage with your story? You have a range of stakeholders in a school community. Who will want to belong? Different segments of your community will engage with your school content once storytelling is launched. Spend time talking to people: staff, kids, parents, and community members. Build knowledge of the various demographic segments in a school community and find out what types of communication they value. Traditional, digital, social and face-to -face channels are open for sharing the content of new brand. The stories create belonging that is important to sustain good vibes about the school  brand. Invite your community to share their stories of interaction with the new brand using social media, video, and digital content.  Collecting data in informal conversations or through formal surveys of the community, reveal how the community wants to be engaged in communication with the school.

4.      Accessibility--- Make the belonging easy to achieve. Make the interactions with the brand frictionless as possible. After investing time and energy in the development of a brand, continue to make engagement with the brand as simple. The image of the school brand and the identity features of the brand image can be strategically placed through visual reminders and messages. Use school websites in new ways to access and communicate with stakeholders by posting  informational “Help Content” and “Storytelling Content” that is based on the good work the school is doing every day. Broadcast the brand with excitement and engagement in the chose channels of access. With professional development linked to a school brand, schools can consistently define who they are and control the narrative of the good work they do. Having a strategy and direction for accessing the school brand is about “promotion”, and educators haven’t been promoters of their good work. Accessibility  creates the positive “user experience” that stakeholders value in their brand daily engagements. It is key to the feeling of belonging.

5.     Emotion---  Brands that are best at belonging are not afraid to create connection with their community through emotion. Once a brand establishes the intangible connections with a tribe of supporters, the feeling of connection is so strong that people in the community move to a feeling of brand insistence, of wanting to belong at a deep, sustaining level to the community. As a school brand conversation develops, emotion figures into the plan. This as recognized as the “H2H” value of a brand, the Human to Human value.  A school that builds a branding with belonging in mind develops messages, both visual and print, that create emotional connection to the community. People come to believe in the community through authentic stories . Your chance to sustain a strong brand position with the community is  strengthened when a school identifies the common, emotional  bond that stakeholders share and weaves that through communication message online and offline.

Each segment of the school  stakeholder community can find their  connection to a school brand in a plan that focuses on belonging from brand awareness to emotional brand allegiance.