professional development

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! 

The Storyteller and Steward of BrandED Leadership


For leaders adopting a brand professional presence, the role of Storyteller-in Chief is a comfortable way to employ successful business brand tenets that fit in our transparent, digital school communities.  Eric Sheninger @E_sheniger spoke recently at a tech conference about the power of this role. Sharing the authentic stories of all the good going on in schools is important to getting the attention of your audience. When educators develop a BrandED mindset that is a asset to their professional growth, something deeper happens as a leader deliberately shares the journey of BrandED with a community.  In that way, the Storyteller also becomes the "Steward" of the unique school brand.  As a BrandED Steward, a leader not only tells the story of the school, but guides the authentic process of communicating brand value to stakeholders in ways that keep the community focused and the message growing strategically .  School leaders as Stewards of brand employing BrandEd leadership tools for continuous growth,  understand the return on relationship that this  professional investment brings.

Leaders like Eric can guide the implementation of BrandED strategies through their  stewardship. Stewards feel the responsibility to lead that comes from an ethic of  sharing your authentic professional brand and  creating a school brand  . A BrandED Steward uses the curated and created stories of the brand to advance  culture, performance and resources that bring school improvement. The BrandED leader guides in a collaborative fashion, and  sustains the brand message in a community. Storyteller and Steward are relevant roles for a modern day educator in a digital age.


Why Does it Matter?: Educational Leaders Can Embrace a School Brand Strategy

Why Promote a School Brand?

Brand evolved out of a revolution in the last century that is touching every of corner modern life. A respected voice in its evolution is the father of advertising, David Ogilvy,  who said, “Today, brand is the intangible sum of product attributes, the name, the package,the price, the history, the reputation and advertising ” (Oglivy, 2012). If this is true, how do we align this advertising stance in  schools ? Educators don’t have an Ogilvy advertising agency budget to create intangible brand loyalty for their stakeholders, but we can surely adapt, and we don’t need advertising to create a brand.



The term “promotion” takes the place of “advertising” in  BrandED strategy. It’s the necessary adaptation. Unlike advertising, promotion doesn't cost a thing and it is required in today’s world of education to create brand power. It’s essential for educators to promote themselves in this digital world of connection. Who is better at sharing the story of the wonderful work of the school than those stakeholders who are creating this? Kids, teachers, staff can be the genuine voices of the narrative of success that is built through promoting the school’s brand. Educators who are strategic in promotion can reach stakeholders through the tangible and intangible connection of brand awareness. You don’t have a marketing department, but leaders can promote and advance BrandED’s foundation: image, promise, and result for connectivity. These three brand elements form the focus of a leader’s plan to benefit your school. Thanks to our world of digital advantages, brand is a fit for this journey.



Today, a teenager on his own personal brand journey on social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram is pursuing the same brand elements: image, promise, and result. That average teen is not as informed as a professional, but is selling and promoting like a pro to his or her audience. Why? He or she wants to matter. There’s surely a lot of emphasis on image and result on that kid’s part, and maybe some attention to genuine promise. Teens are sailing on the social media sea  delivering personal brand value for better or worse. Recognize that their search to communicate a brand that matters is real. These young stakeholders are sitting in our classrooms. They can be among the first  to embrace and power the new school brand and they can fit into a systemic role as a school brand is developed and promoted. Leaders come from all levels. Their voices matter.


Business and Schools as Resource Brand Partners: Who do you Know?

Are you a Business who wants to add to your Corporate Social Responsibility Profile? Are you a School Leader/Manager? You both can be a part of New School Resourcing through Brand Building. Business and Education can establish new partnerships in the digital age.




I spent years in leadership positions in schools and have spent the last ten years working with business leaders, building their brand.  When I was in school positions, you couldn't bring up the business world in topics about professional development and school improvement. Nobody wanted to hear what business could teach us.  Today the business world of communication is flattened by transparency and we can see the value they can bring, and the isolationism of the ivory tower in schools has waned. All of it due to digital media and what Tom Friedman calls a "communication mashup". I'm committed to bringing those worlds together.   Brand can do this. In business, I learned from colleagues about the  “1,000 people who Know You” rule,  a mass marketing technique. It can easily be massaged as a guide for developing relationships in a brand campaign. 


As you begin, focus your effort on serving a small part of the school community. That's called "segmentation" in business branding,  Ask what their needs are. Identify and Satisfy. And keep them happy. Your most loyal fans are already with you as you lead. As you begin to tell your own brand story through social media, and digital contacts, these people will be your biggest supporters and they will work more to advance the brand cause.  These people have reach to  their own influencers. They have links to businesses that have volunteer programs where manpower can be enlisted to offer services to your school. Business also has budgets for donations. Identify your core group to start your BrandED. Create the movement with these fans and benefit from their word of mouth inbound marketing impact. Twitter makes it easy to enlist the 1,000 People you Know Rule!


EducatED Relationships: Bringing the Power of Relationships to Schools

As a self-described "educationalist", I am part educator and promoter...

I've had a long and unique, successful first career in public education that led me to opportunities in communication with USAToday. Work that  launched  my own communications consulting practice. I'm teaching again now as an instructor at Baruch College in NYC, serving business clients, and I'm adding to my authorship as I work on a forward thinking groundbreaking book about using Brand principles to improve school management with a tremendous partner.

Nothing that I've done in my professional life has come without my awareness of making connections and building networks. It's natural for me. Not so natural for others. The lack of support and awareness for that need in 2004 led me to look outside of public education, but I'm back.

Seth Godin, brilliant marketer, talks about "tribes" in his TEDTalks. Well, I'm happy to be back in the tribe of educators. My mission is to see my colleagues in schools are educatedED in relationship building.  Building relationships can improve the school experience for all involved. Building relationships positively impacts culture, performance and resourcing of schools.

Launching this blog with a post on educational relationship building and the need for being relational as we practice our craft seems like coming home. I will be blogging about all sorts of relational themes, but the EducatED Relationships that can raise the value of our public schools will be on my mind as I write over the next months. And I'm looking for fellow tribe members around the world who have this awareness. and are willing to share what they know about connecting for school success. 

It's a nosy 3.0 world of buzz thanks to the internet. That means a goldmine for building relationships. Digital and social media can do only so much. Build relationships from scratch and not from just a screen. Put out your hand, look someone in the eye and say hello. 

Hello, I'm Trish Rubin and I want to talk about the power of relational life.