Defining Your School Brand: 10 Questions You Must Answer

Written By Maryam DiMauro

So, you are having some trouble getting students to become interested in your school. You aren't getting the amount of traffic, queries, students or interviews. You are going to fairs all over the world, but you just aren't generating the right amount of interest.  

What went wrong? You have a beautiful campus, beautiful sports facilities, a fantastic reputation. Yet somehow you fail to generate enough admissions.  The answer might lie in school branding. School branding, especially in the digital realm, is as essential as your academic curriculum. In order to reach out to the right clients (international families) and ultimately increase your admissions, you need a strong branding message.

How can you differentiate yourself from all the rest of your competitors?

How can you communicate to parents that your school is the right one for their child?

1.  Why is Branding so Important?

Branding goes beyond the colors of your logo, having social media presence, having a great brochure and having strong messaging.  A lot of thought should go into who the school is and why it stands out from other schools.

Your logo, your website, your messaging - all of this should give a clear and concise portrayal of what makes your school unique.  The messaging should be clear and direct, appealing to an audience whose language is not English. The more universally appealing your story is, the more likely you will be to recruit students.

If you brand your school correctly, you will be appealing to the hearts and not just the brains of your potential future students and their families. Parents and students will feel a mysterious connection to your school and they will want to cultivate their desire to be there.

Take, for example, Sacred Heart High School in Kingston. The reason why they have high enrollment is that people connect with their school through its clear messaging and concise branding. This school has shown via their website and related promotional materials that their school has a special history.

2. What is the School’s History?

Why was your school founded? How old is it? What are the funny quirks about your school? Do you have alumni that vouch for you on social media and the site? Do you have videos of successful alumni? The more you share these unique stories, the more it adds legitimacy and differentiation.

Whether your school has been around for many years or is relatively young, its history is the beginning of the story you want to share with parents and their children.

3. What is your Message?

In today's educational world, it is hard to differentiate yourself from the pack.  What makes your school special? What would make an international student want to go to your school? What is your curriculum about, your art program, sports teams?  Make sure your message is clear, concise and communicates everything that best represents your school.

One big thing to do in EduHup is to make sure your school profile has pride statements about your school’s accomplishments, with photographs representing your student body. A pride statement consists of short statements that give a summary of your school's accomplishments.

Take into account the kind of international student you want to attract and make sure those pride statements can communicate it correctly with the student.

4.  Parental Marketing Techniques

It's important to understand what might attract parents to your school and increase registration. Your best bet is to create a student profile and their journey in wanting to become part of your school In marketing terms; this is called the dynamic customer journey.  Think of all the stages a parent will go through to understand the school.  (We will explore this more in another article.)

Each international student has different needs and interests. A Mexican international student will be attracted to different things than a Chinese student. Luckily, EduHup can help you figure this all out!

Seasonality is a significant factor, too. International students from various countries have different academic schedules, and it's important to be familiar with the months where your marketing techniques would garner the most interest.

Your target audience will also be in specific social media spaces, so it's important to understand where they are and how to create a way to be visible. Having an excellent visible school profile on EduHup, as well as within your own school’s website, is key to your success.

5. Consistency

It's essential to have an editorial calendar and streamline all of your branding opportunities. You should see the consistency of your logo, message, and graphic design throughout all of your marketing materials.  Your taglines and messages should also reflect this consistency.

6. Testimonials

Part of what gives your school legitimacy is having students give testimonials about the school. Make sure your students actively promote you on social media; nothing promotes your school more than the positive words of students who are already there. This is especially important in China, where social media is far different from our own. Having current international students praise you and show pictures of us on Weibo and Wechat is crucial to getting your name out there.

Further, make sure your teachers, administrators and your school events are actively a part of your marketing techniques.

7. Building community

It's essential to create a community of people who love the school so much and feel a part of promoting the experience. Having active extracurricular activities, community events and parent-teacher exchanges are all crucial for integrating and promoting your international student admission.

8.  What sets you apart?

Make sure you emphasize all the ways your school can help the students. Remember that international students are not as familiar with specific American curriculum, so make sure you emphasize elements that they want to hear.  Some examples include university admissions data (ie, naming colleges and universities where your student graduates have subsequently been enrolled), sports options, language learning opportunities, beautiful campuses. Do your research and find out with your current students what attracted them to your school in the first place. After you do this research, it's important to communicate this in all of your marketing materials.

9. Where is your school headed?

What is the goal to advance your school? What does your school envision for the future? How will this affect your international student enrollment? Parents want to feel that the school is advancing, moving forward and creating a good vision for their messaging.  If schools don't have an excellent five-year plan, parents might not feel confident in having their child go to your school.  Showing how your school has grown and how this will affect their child is key to customizable success.

10. Not all international students are the same.

Make sure you realize that each region has different admissions needs. Make sure you check our blog for some tips in that area. Mexican students, for example, may stay less time but are likelier to come in more significant numbers. Having spring and summer camps are vital to attracting that demographic. If your brand tends to ignore the demographic and treats all international student admissions the same you won't have successful branding techniques.

Above all, it's essential to keep revising this list. Having a team that helps and support your efforts and investing time, consistency and money is key to a good school brand.

 

 

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