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


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!


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.



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.


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



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.



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.

How to "Educate with Heart" from a Student Perspective 

 I’m fortunate to have a guest blogger and former study abroad student, Ron Southwood, to lend his voice to my site! Enjoy his message that was inspired by a blog I wrote for the higher education community, especially for the global students I teach. It’s a lesson from a student who has invested in Baruch College with his heart and soul.

Recently, Trish has been encouraging colleges to “educate the heart”. As I come to the end of my year of graduate study in New York City, I’ve been musing over what that really looks like. Did my college effectively create an emotional connection with its prospective students? Or does it need to “overhaul its brand experience” if it wants to engage students with an extraordinary call to action?

The events that led me to Baruch College actually began while I was living in Spain. For three years I taught English as a foreign language. It was an amazing position and I felt so proud of my students as they discovered their potential and went on to study abroad and work in companies around the world. Yet the lifestyle was all a bit too sleepy for my liking.

I knew what I wanted; a completely different experience that would push me out of my comfort zone. One that’d make me learn and grow. Coincidentally, around this time, I also met a girl. I liked her and was looking for adventure anyway, so I decided to give it a shot and move to New York to live with her. If I’m being honest, studying was the easiest way to get here while doing something to develop myself personally. All I needed was to find a college that’d help me achieve this. Baruch’s Contemporary American Business Practices program was there at the right place at the right time. I applied and before I knew it I was on a plane to my new life in Brooklyn.

As Trish says, everyone has a story, and as I soon found out there’d be many students from successful backgrounds in their own countries whose stories would become a part of mine. Feelings of homesickness quickly disappeared as we all got connected on social media. It was only day one, and we already had a community that would be our strength throughout the year. Not only did they add value as friends, but their past professional experience revealed fresh perspectives. Karla, a Peruvian lawyer, taught me that it’s never too late to change your career trajectory. Ayako, a Japanese HR manager, showed me that effective networking can open up doors most people don’t even see.

As someone that’d been out of school for a while, I was apprehensive at the thought of having to take exams and get grades again. I was pleasantly surprised to find that though there was traditional assessment, professors focused mostly on raising up new voices and mentoring their students. Assignments would only be handed out with a clear outcome in mind. So while we had more than enough material to write a twenty page paper, instead the focus was on experiential learning; not only connecting us with successful businesses, but getting us involved, hands-on, with what they created. Trish connected my group to the amazing Cross Culture Coach, who I’d continue to work with long after the class project finished. We were able to begin a working relationship with non-profit Pajama Program that’s making an impact on at risk youth throughout the city. Our cohort also benefitted from intimate conversations with managers from Yelp, Google, and cultural insight and advertising agency Sparks & Honey. Any of our professors could have decided to assign a paper, but instead, they saw the benefit of us working on real projects, and did the leg work to set it up for us.

In addition to the experiences professors set up for us off-campus, often the professors themselves had an impact on me. Jon Harari, CEO of WindowsWear, turns a class on public relations into something personal. He teaches his students how to apply PR tactics to their own lives, particularly in the arena of networking and job searching. Something I’ve noticed about Jon is that he’s always actively writing his story. I knew that every week he´d come in and talk to us about what he accomplished since we’ve last seen him. It made me realize that there are a multitude of small actions that lead up to achieving a big goal, and I can, and should, be doing something everyday to drive me forward.

Baruch recently invited my classmate, Karla, and I to present to the new intake of students. I remember sitting in those seats having little idea what to expect, and was so happy to be able to share my enthusiasm for what I consider a wonderful program. Reflecting on the past year and being able to pass on our advice and experience made me feel that the program had come full circle.

When Trish talks about educating the heart, she’s talking about learning from real-world experiences, not just textbooks. Does Baruch do that? Absolutely. However, you wouldn’t necessarily know it if you don’t enroll in their program. For me, CAPB was my ticket to New York City. If I hadn’t been set on that goal, the information on the website wouldn’t have drawn me in. However, after completing the program, I know that Baruch’s story is providing incredible resources and experiences to passionate and successful young professionals from all over the world that want to reinvent themselves in America’s biggest city. Despite their success in this area, they aren’t effectively communicating this to prospective applicants.

If I worked for Baruch, using the knowledge I’ve gained this year, here’s what I would do. Baruch’s Contemporary American Business Practices program is made up of entirely of students based overseas. Students are investing a lot of time and money to move across the world, and since most of them will come to Baruch without ever visiting it, digitally available information is crucial.  Practical information is great, but in addition, I’d highly recommend they capture and communicate the student experience.

How? Through channels that prospective students care about. First and foremost, their web presence. Communicating a narrative via social media will help build an emotional connection. They’ve made a positive first step by adding a video to their website featuring students and instructors, but they can expand on this. This could include videos of classes, student testimonies, and highlighting student involvement with local businesses. I’d encourage them to focus on the successes of students that have completed the CABP program and went on to advance their career. These alumni profiles provide real and tangible evidence of the course’s true value as a means to developing their skill-set with the aim of securing better opportunities post-study.

Several times a year, in the run up to enrollment, the college could host online chat sessions connecting prospective students with current students and professors. Not only would it allow applicants to understand the Baruch student experience, it would allow the CABP program insight as to what prospective students are curious about which they can then use to inform development of future marketing materials. This holistic approach would set Baruch apart in its competitors.

This year has been instrumental in my professional development and I’m thrilled with the very positive experience I have had with Baruch College. They successfully educated the heart. A year ago I felt frustrated by the lack of information on their website, but that was it, it stopped at frustration. Now, with the skills and strategies I’ve learned in this program, I can take any frustrating problem and turn it into an opportunity for positive growth. I have no doubt this newfound skill set and perspective will serve me well as I go forward to relaunch my career.

Driven by Emotion: "Affective" Stories of School Brand Experience

A recent article in D!gitalist Magazine explored the progress of "affective computing", the science of adding emotion to enhance the AI experience of a human who interacts with a computer. Engineers are quickly creating algorithms that will advance the likability of the robotics we will engage with in the very near future, engagement beyond  the friendly, voice activated "Alexa". This scientific industry, whose growth accelerates every quarter, is focused on the sweet spot of what drives human connection: emotion.

As a prominent researcher, Dr. Paul Ekman, discovered in 1967 when he investigated a tribe in New Guinea living in the manner of their Stone Age ancestors, there is a universal set of emotions that form the basis of all human contact. Ekman furthered his work into the facial expressions of those shared human emotions. He developed an online Atlas of emotions, a system that has informed law enforcement and security. Today his research is  teaching robots how to feel.

Why is it so important that AI have that essence? In business, it's the bottom line. The global affective computer market will quadruple over the next five years. Feeling good about the interfacing with robotics, not just voice activated tones, will scale the industry. AI infused with emotion will quickly bring trust about in humans to invest in this new exchange. As these affective computers go about revolutionizing our world, we humans can be confident that in the present we still have the upper hand  and heart in gathering ideas, collaborating, and creating information

But this post isn't about business it's about schools. So let's keep in mind that one way our school communities can aim to improve themselves is through the sharing of expression through brand. This is an H2H...Human to Human endeavor. Even while the world takes on affective computing, we take up the challenge to brand our school community. School brand lives in the telling the stories of our schools that are filled with the power of the ages: the power of true human emotion. 

You may think your school has a brand, but think again. it may have a "brand identity system",  a handful of features of what a brand looks like:  a website featuring a logo, a calendar of events, a mascot, and a serious headline or two, but that's not a brand. And where is the emotion in that first look that people get when they type in your school name on their computer? Most school websites need overhauling to capture humanity of emotion that launches the brand experience that the school provides. And much of that comes from the simple telling of stories that create emotional connection to the viewer. When you decide to take on the joyful work of building a brand, make sure emotion is a driver for you and your team.  

The world of business is building the "emotional economy" through AI and we will see the impact of this work in our exchange with big brands like Coke and Disney before we see it in our schools. That's a good thing. What separates us from robotics, at least in 2017, is that we don't have to be programmed. We can be driven by pure natural emotion to share the story of the best news, the smallest and the biggest type of stories that show the brand of our school. 

As you consider a professional development track to increasing value, look to learning about brand. Lead a brand movement in your school. Be driven by emotion to showcase the experiences to unify your community in a unique way. Your own emotion for the journey will be easy to read from the smile on your face that comes from building a meaningful school brand.


School Brand: the Engine of Successful Strategic Partnerships



Start your engines!

 The world is changing at a rapid pace. We are going from zero to sixty in a blink thanks to technology, add in AI and VR and we see a revved up climate for change that is unprecedented.

Keep up with the change. Find your partners who can help you resource your school and support your students every step of the way into the world of work. Here's a 2017 Resolution--Make partnerships a priority. Become the ENGINE for resourcing your school through the strategic building of partnerships with business and with higher education, with agencies and with entrepreneurs. Look beyond the micro-community of your school to the bigger pond, the external community where thanks to innovation in communications, you can reach out to any entity. Find potential partners in  an individual, a local group, a mid-sized business or even a corporate partner. Offer them value, the opportunity to help prepare students for the new workplace in ways that helps them resource themselves. Partners give value to each other. Many of these entities, want to help, but they don't know how to get started. You have to take the lead. Be the engine of connection. Be a brandED leader and you can tell your partners how to help.

Your first step is to make sure you have a personal professional brand to share as a leader. As the engine, you will drive the effort to build relationships for your school. Model your brand persona, then gather a collective to design and build a school brand that's fit for partnership. You must define who your community is and what it stands for, what it's successes are, what are its challenges. Your collaborative effort to tell this story about your unique value communicates to a wide range of local and even global partners who can say..."They are like me! I want to help them!" Empathy becomes a great connector. An entrepreneur or a corporate giant can see the common ground between their own BRAND  and mission and your local school BRAND and mission---if you take time to define and shine! Get your story of your brand out into the many channels that digital and social provides.  

This post is inspired by one such channel, Twitter, in a post  by Dwight Carter, New Albany HS Principal, whose "whatever it takes" mindset would resonate with any potential business or agency resource partners. And apparently it has from the his recent tweet citing the partnerships @napls has developed in the community!


Plenty of topics bring business and education together to get the motors running for partnering. In the world of business marketing the diverse population that is sitting in our schools and one day will be the major consumers of products and services creates a conversation just waiting to bring us together. When we read the results of the 2020 Census we'll see the American landscape change to a minority majority demographic. A major shift powered by the rise of Generation Z, who are now 18 years and under in age: the most diverse demographic in the USA. We know this will be relevant on a wide scale. Let's not wait until 2020. Let's partner now.

This one topic alone gives us common ground upon which to partner. Schools will be challenged to create solutions to address educating these students to become civic and economic mainstays of their communities and the digital citizens of the world. Businesses see workforce needs and structures changing rapidly in front of their eyes. They need to open conversations with educators about the changing world of commerce where these students will be seeking jobs. Marketers can join the conversation with industry and schools so they can to educate themselves about speaking to this demographic who will need to become more intelligent consumers that keep the economy robust through the shifts of a modern, automated workplace.  Again, let's let them know how to start to help.

Strategic Partnering is priority. Build a brand that gets you connected to the right resources for your school so our kids can motor on the open road of the future with a finely tuned direction supported by the worlds of business and education co-existing for success.  Power up your school brand!

Why be Fragmented in 2017? Unifying School Brand is your PD New Year's Resolution

 'Tis the season for making New Year's resolutions ranging from calorie counting to writing your great American novel. (And yes, my own novel, a YA read, is currently on my desktop next to my Weight Watcher tracker!) But whatever progress on the personal word and weight front I make going forward, I have a true resolution keeper for you in the 2017 school year. Make a new brand promise: disrupt the diminishing energy of a divided school agenda. 


Stop fragmenting a school's identity and build a unified school brand. Put that on the top of your list. Look at any winning brand in today's market. The success of that brand with their loyal audience comes from clear, connected messaging. Let's see this proven business brand element live in our schools in a unifying way. Look at increased competition brought by charters and vouchers and you will see the need to define your school is a priority. A unifying brand creates contagious community commitment: we know what we are about and who we are. We stop the fragmentation madness. Any decision we undertake as a school community is made with the brand of the school at top of mind. Turn attention to stopping the fragmentation of a school identity and you put a school's communication on a diet while you create storytelling power-- you address weight and word of messaging that gets the brand on a unified track to satisfying audiences. In our book, BrandED, Eric Sheninger and I offer practical strategies that help make that resolution possible.


The fragmented identity of your school is weighing down the exchange of clear communication  It's 2017, and after our 2016 election process, we see the continued power of targeted delivery of engagement-- in even 140 characters. A connecting brand voice is missing in your school improvement plan if your school messages are fragments.

A school without a brand unifier is trying to be all things to all stakeholders. In that fragmentation, a school's power to communicate efficiently diminishes. The array of agendas, initiatives and mandates that are part of a day to day delivery of service needs a unifying umbrella. How do we keep those seemingly disparate pieces in focus? We develop a compelling thread of content and activity across our initiatives that shows why we do what we do for our kids. We deliver that message every day across select digital, social and traditional face to face engagements.


Address the school IMAGE, make a brand PROMISE and attain new RESULT. Stop doing the same things over and over for little result. Innovate in our fast moving world of communication with a solid school brand presence. Understand the weight and the word issues in your current communication platforms. Create a powerful, deep connection to school brand using a map, a BrandED Strategic plan. Take on a PD journey to school strategic development. The BrandED plan unifies and defines--and you and your team co-create it in the new year with a map based on 5 elements--BrandED Drivers . 

Make a commitment to brand part of your New Year Resolution for Professional Development. Lose the word weight and gain communication storytelling power through a bold BrandED professional development experience that skillfully brings about a unique, unifying school brand . You and your team may just write the great American story of BrandED success as you brand build together using the power of BrandED!  Cheers! 

Get Busy this Winter! Lead a BrandED Team on the Fresh Snow of Innovation in 2017


Looking at the calendar in NYC, I’m thinking snow. Actually we  had our first snowfall here this past Saturday. As we welcome winter tomorrow I see this image of fresh snow as a metaphor for a BrandED Storyteller-in-Chief. For those of you, like my co-author in BrandED,Eric Sheninger, who won't experience the chill of an east coast winter, you can still use your imagination to see the future of innovation using brandED thinking !

We welcome WINTER, but have our Wyllie Jossey Bass publication date in sight for SPRING: April 2017. The landscape of a new snow is a natural metaphor where creative untapped ideas, like a BrandED mindset for school improvement, await innovation. In that field, ripe for change,  see the faint outline outline of the those who led the way, those who influenced your own innovative thinking that brought you to the field.  The thought leader’s prints of the new insight are part of the great wide open possibility that lays before you--follow us. It's our invite to innovate. The field in 2017 is awaiting your tracks and, more importantly, the tracks of your school collaborators and early adopters who can support your interest in developing a school-wide brandED presence. If you take on a BrandED professional development mindset, you won’t be alone for long as you venture onto that field. Building with BrandED is contagious.

Eric Sheninger and I had our footprints in the snow back in 2009 for developing school brand. It was  disruptive thinking about using a business tenet of BRAND that was influencing our professional lives in connecting ways. It was fired by that little blue bird of Twitter. 

As early adopters on Twitter, Eric and I made connections on the “fresh snow” of the digital field and created a mindset about brand. Since then, the world has rapidly changed as digital and social reach grew. We have developed our first 30 pages of 2009 thought into a professional leadership book with the help of a valuable academic publisher. And our field of digital snow is now Amazon! As we bring BrandED to the educator community, I know  BrandED will be an unifying innovation.

Don't wait for SPRING! Look around this winter, school leaders. Start talking about brand and gather  like-minded team members  who are probably standing with their snowshoes strapped on tightly ready to take on the BrandED challenge. You can lead a capable diverse team in a Distributed Education model to craft and deliver a school brand. But start the conversation now. Find early adopters who will see your own "Storyteller in Chief " footprint on the snow-covered field of school innovation. Enlist a diverse group to talk about brand and then partner in an effort that improves their school. In the spirit of collaborative Design Thinking, your team can join you at the edge of the snow covered field of a BrandED innovation as a diverse collective. They will be a powerful, multi-generational stakeholder force, owning a range of human capital skills and social capital skills that rival a Madison Ave creative social media brand team-- they can power the communication change that is BrandED.

Thanks to the support of Twitter followers and testimonials, my own position on the field feels exciting. I’m feeling the connected presence of awesome educators who are out there on the edge of their own BrandED Thinking, and they are ready to learn new strategies to define their work and strategically build their school's positive perception in the community. A BrandED leader builds a collaborative team using the role of Storyteller-in-Chief and purposefully guides them to brand building as their capable steward. Make yourself known on the field of innovation now as you welcome winter-- use BrandED as your guide and create your own unique footprint in education.