With an education brand, you manage expectations of not just the students and parents but also the society.
Education is a tricky business. Finding the right value proposition and communicating it to the audience is always the first step for brand creation. It becomes even more challenging in the education sector, with a fine line between business and social value creation.
It is fundamental for schools to offer relevant curriculum, quality teachers, and technology-driven infrastructure, equipped in classrooms. However, merely investing in these functional attributes is not enough to build a brand. The students and parents (key decision makers) are looking for emotional rewards for engagement. The intangible attributes often make or break the deal for the target audience. Thus, an education brand needs to understand what makes the target audience tick and the institution stand apart from the competition. Here are the three steps on this journey:
A clear vision for the brand
Invest time and resources to understand your target audience, influencers, key decision makers, and market forces. This will help you arrive at a unique proposition and the vision statement. This vision statement is not merely for the target audience but also for the team. Thus, do not underestimate the value of an impactful vision statement. An education brand needs a vision statement that is not merely business-centric but also triggers an emotional connect. Once this is in place, we can proceed to develop visual/verbal cues to support this vision and brand positioning. The key here is not to look for a fancy looking statement but being truthful about who you are and what value do you promise to bring to the table. If your prospects are looking for a campus-based face to face education but you would like to explore a technology-driven distance education solution, look for a different audience. But be realistic about your vision, positioning, and target audience.
Having done this exercise, develop key messages and identify the platform to take it to the audience. Continue to refine your messaging and audience mapping. The communication plan is a work in progress document.
Engage with your community and realign visions and goals
Education is not a onetime transaction. Communicating your offerings and value proposition to the target audience is merely half the battle. The rest half is about building an emotional connect and strong recall among the audience. They need to know your brand attributes that they can associate with, on a personal level. Take feedback from the community that you have built, be it your employees or the parents and take actionable measures to bring the brand closer to your consumers. The bottom line is to move beyond the “what” you do to talk about “why” you exist. When your institution reflects that purpose, your target audience will become more receptive to your marketing messages.
Integrate the brand via all channels
Having done all the work on the strategic front, it is time to integrate your education brand into relevant communication channels and follow a consistent approach to implementation. The websites, brochures, smartphone applications, and media communication should support the strategy and position the institution as a ‘business with a mission’. Last but not the least, do not let your brand from straying off course.
Keep on the self-evaluation and improvement. As an education brand, you manage expectations of not just the parents (decision makers) but also the society. Thus, it is good to pose tough questions for yourself (the brand) and keep improving basis these questions.
CEO of Safari Kid India