Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide - NAIS

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1 G Differentiate. Build. Inspire. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools

2 2010 by the National Association of Independent Schools. All rights reserved. The opinions expressed in this book are not necessarily those of the publisher, NAIS. ISBN: 1-893021-86-6 Printed in the United States of America. The National Association of Independent Schools represents approximately 1,643 independent private schools in the United States and other countries. All are accredited, non-discriminatory, nonprofit organizations governed by independent boards of trustees. NAISs mission is to serve and strengthen member schools and associations by articulating and promoting high standards of education quality and ethical behavior; to work to preserve their independence to serve the free society from which that independence derives; to advocate broad access for students by affirming the principles of diversity, choice, and opportunity. To find out more information, go to the NAIS website at www.nais. org. To receive a listing of NAIS books,call (800) 793-6701 or (240) 646-7052. Editors: Jefferson Burnett, Myra McGovern, Nancy Raley Designer: Fletcher Design, Inc./Washington, DC All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without prior written permission of NAIS. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Brief quotations or excerpts of this publication for use in reviews or professional works are permitted as provided under intellectual property law.

3 Table of Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Marketing: Deciphering the Jargon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Whats in a Brand?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Message: The Voice of Brand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 The Elements of Message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 How Does the World See You?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Measuring Brand and Message Effectiveness. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 3

4 Introduction W hat is your school about? Do We hope you find the Guide valuable. It is the people recognize your brand? latest addition to our collection of financially Does it matter to them? sustainable school resources (visit www. for more information), As authors Carol Cheney and Peter Gow prepared exclusively for NAIS schools. explain in the following chapters, messages and brands help create long-lasting And, stay tuned for an interactive version of relationships with current and prospective this publication that will encourage sharing of constituents, relationships that are essential messaging and branding examples from our to your institutions sustainability. While it has community. There is so much we can learn always been important to articulate who you from each other! are, now it is critical to not only know how to Jefferson Burnett distinguish your school from the competition, Vice President for Government but to actually make it happen. and Community Relations This collection of articles covers two facets of [email protected] marketing: branding and messaging. Myra McGovern Look for NAISs Marketing Handbook, to be Director of Public Information released in Winter 2011, to cover marketing [email protected] as a whole. Messaging and Branding: A Nancy Raley How-To Guide is full of practical thinking Vice President, Communications and suggestions that will make the process [email protected] of deciphering what your school is about manageable and engaging. While each article stands alone, taken together, they can help you devise an effective messaging and branding plan for your school. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 4

5 Marketing: Deciphering the Jargon By Carol Cheney President, Cheney and Company marketing is building and maintaining lasting relationships with shared benefits. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 5

6 Marketing: Deciphering the Jargon W hat is Marketing? Its not sales. Its You exist to serve more than promotion. And its not Schools need to communicate in order to just about admissions. positively influence the personal experiences of key audiences. Relationships, after all, Marketing is the intentional management are a choice. And the foundation of the best of mutually beneficial relationships. Or, relationships is how you make people feel in more simply put, marketing is building the way you interact with them. and maintaining lasting relationships with shared benefits. Carefully cultivated, these People cant have a relationship with you if relationships can endure for a lifetime, even they dont know you exist. The main objective for generations. These connections are what of marketing communications is to move keep your school going. And relationships important audiences through a sequence can make or break your brand. of engagement, from initial awareness to sustained loyalty. So, then, what is brand? One definition of brand is your institutional identity system Building pride among faculty, students, your graphic standards (wordmark, colors, parents, alumni, and friends fortifies your logo, and so forth). But, caveat emptor! Dont visibility and enhances your reputation. get talked into thinking that a new identity The goal is to meet your institutional system or a cool tagline will magically secure objectivesattraction and retention of the idea of your school in peoples minds. qualified students and teachers, philanthropy, and good will. The content and timing of The best definition of brand (image) is how your communications should provide a link people remember you. In this sense, brand is between your strategic objectives and the a collective idea about who you are. How you interests of your audiences. measure up to your audiences expectations is important when it comes to brand. How In order to be heard, your message has to well are you delivering on the promise you be relevant to your audience. Who your make with your mission statement and core school is and what you have to offer must values? be important and beneficial to the people you are seeking to influence. Too many Brand strategy refers to the work that goes schools make the mistake of devising their into capturing your personality and key communication as a one-way street: They messages on a single piece of paper. This talk at their audiences through unfocused, process is research-oriented and conceptual, boringoften self-congratulatorymaterials. ultimately directing the creative execution of all your communicationselectronic, print, and face-to-face. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 6

7 Marketing: Deciphering the Jargon Now its a two-way street discovering the true power of the grapevine How can you find out what your audiences through social networking sites, wikis, and want? By actively listening! blogs. A surge in market research has been helpful Some say, if you cant tell your own story, in getting independent schools to see why try? But if your school wants to themselves from the outside in. A whole encourage good buzz in the marketplace, range of informationfrom collaborative its more important than ever to demonstrate studies to informal focus groups and your command of communications and your individual discussionsis opening schools attentiveness to audiences. The quality and eyes to how they are viewed and what timeliness of your communications should their audiences priorities are. You can be equal to the quality of whats going on access data on demographics and market in the classroom. Parents and students, trends, cost sensitivity, satisfaction, name especially, expect the school to be proficient recognition, competitor comparisons, in harnessing technology (databases, what people know about and want in an website, email, and social media) in the independent school, and much more. service of good management. Interesting, relevant content, great photography, and But an even more compelling prod sophisticated graphic design are a must toward approaching marketing as a in this information-saturated environment. management discipline is the emergence This work can best be accomplished when of multidirectional communication made the school takes an active interest in and possible by the Internet and the growing dedicates adequate resources to how it influence of social media. You cant not communicates with different audiences. Just listen or be inattentive anymore. as important as establishing and maintaining And these new media make it possible to a robust infrastructure is building a shared communicate about your school in exciting consensus around your identity and key ways. The old adage, If you dont tell your messages. When all of this is working story, someone else will used to refer to together, you will spend less time getting gossip in the carpool line. Now schools are better results. The goal is to meet your institutional objectivesattraction and retention of qualified students and teachers, philanthropy, and good will. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 7

8 Whats in a Brand? By Peter Gow Director of College Counseling, Beaver Country Day School the elements of the brand must be relevant to students and families hopes and desires for the school experience. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 8

9 Whats in a Brand? E very independent school, like any other circumstances, the internal brand experience entity that offers a product or service, matches the external brand expectation is represented in the public mind by and consists of elements that affirm the its brand. Brand, in its purest form, might schools stated aspirations and prized be thought of as what pops into your head accomplishments. A durable, robust brand when you hear a schools name. Brand sustains, confirms the schools founding is nothing more or less than a cumulative, principlesits inspirational and existential. collective, and subjective truth projected Collectively, independent schools face a on the school by constituents, potential peculiar parent brand issue. Whatever the parents, students, teachers, and staff, as mission and program differences between well as the community at large. The brand one institution and another, independent may not be firsthand or complete, and it may schools share an identity as members of not be accurate (at least in the opinion of a community offering an education that is school leaders). It is nonetheless a reality that perceived in a particular way. Historically, cannot be dismissedand that becomes a independent schools have been associated kind of reference point for any consideration with academic excellence, supportive of the school. learning environments, quality teaching, Brand might be viewed as being nearly community involvement, and personal synonymous with reputation, but brand growth. But some have also been associated goes further and is less subject to short- with exclusivity, aggressive social striving, term forces. Brand management should be and elitism. This is ultimately a brand issue an institutional priority, as the vitality and for all independent schools, as it distracts the appeal of the brand play a broad and crucial publics attention from the positive benefits of role in the schools admission prospects, independent schools. development success, and long-term Schools can correct misunderstandings, financial sustainability. however, by focusing attention on their own To a certain extent, a schools brand lies most special qualities. For the individual beyond its control, affected by history and school, the challenge is to identify its own by what passes for common knowledge. best brand and, above all, to promote This does not mean that the brand cannot this brand as the essence of the schools be shaped and even reconfigured, but institutional identity. The brand must have even the most aggressive branding clear and compelling appeal to potential effort must acknowledge and build on best-fit teachers (an often-ignored but crucial existing perceptions of the school. In ideal audience) and to families of potential best- Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 9

10 Whats in a Brand? fit students. It must strike equally strong are likely to begin their work with a thorough chords among existing and past constituents: study of the school, its daily practice, its students, parents, graduates, faculty, and look and feel, and the ways in which it staff. Ideally, the brand will also resonate in is perceived internally and externally. The positive ways in the community and world effort may take the better part of a year, with at large. commensurate cost. A successful brand must meet three criteria: Those involved with brand development First, its message must be authentic. should pay special attention to the faculty, Factual indicators of the brand, such as who live the schools brand on a daily basis college-acceptance lists or assertions and will spot and reject sour or inauthentic about facilities or programs, must be notes. Once the branding program is ready obviously, palpably true. for launch, faculty and staff, as the schools most visible frontline communicators, will Second, the elements of the brand must play important roles as primary brand be relevant to students and families representatives. hopes and desires for the school experience. Above all, the elements must Even the most successful branding initiative not invite the question, Who cares? will not necessarily produce instant results. And third, the elements of the brand Because a brand is an accumulation of must contribute to and emphasize the experience, it will take time for a schools schools differentiating factorsor at least revised or new brand to take root. A strong, present aspects of the school in fresh and sustainable branding program will grow out differentiating ways. of past brand associations and build on new principles. Above all, credible members of the In sum, the brand must be nonfictionnot a school community must devote themselves pitch or a slogan, but rather an encapsulation to being the brands championsto making of demonstrable and distinctive qualities. the brand a pervasive and persuasive part of Most schools will seek advice in undertaking all the schools endeavors. a branding effort, and branding consultants Whatever the mission and program differences between one institution and another, independent schools share an identity as members of a community offering an education that is perceived in a particular way. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 10

11 Whats in a Brand? Once assembled, tested, fine-tuned, and subject matter to its social media voice launched, a new brand identity plays a should reflect an internal consistency as central role, along with the mission, in the well as a tone that underscores the schools schools ideology and strategy. Because it heritage, values, and goals. Above all, a stems directly from experience, a schools schools brand symbols must not fall into brand can be a reliable touchstone in clich or echo the look and feel of other (and the assessment of current programs as especially market rival) schools. well as in future planning. If the brand is A well-understood and agreed-upon brand well understood and broadly supported, will build a strong defense against internal excitement and innovative thinking can crises and external adversity. A school inspire further extension and deepening of committed to its brand as well as its mission the brand. Brand can also offer a rationale will, among other things, have the courage to for rejecting or dropping programs or policies avoid the temptationfelt especially among that do not fit the schools core identity or schools in hard timesto relax standards purpose. and principles and try to become all things to Any branding initiative should include all people. A strong brand gives the school the development of simple but precise permission to be itself, to reject enticing but languageboth verbal and visualthat mission-inappropriate initiatives, and to turn communicates and reinforces the brand away teaching candidates and families that in clear, consistent ways. The language are not the best fit. In a crisis, the brand can can then be shared with members of the help shape the communication of bad news school community to enhance their ability to from a position of relative confidence. In communicate effectively with constituents better times, the brand will positively echo outside the school as well as with one and reinforce the schools historic purpose another. Many schools have even included and clarify its identity and value for new and parents, as potent de facto grassroots expanding audiences. marketers, in their messaging training. Because a brand needs to represent as well as differentiate a school, a full-on branding effort should include every aspect of the schools public identity. Everything a school uses to express itselffrom its logo and website design to its photographic style and Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 11

12 3 Whats Whatsin inaaBrand? Brand? Three Acknowledgments and Resources Sources for this chapter include extensive Exercises correspondence and conversations with Tiffany Hendryx, senior marketing for Understanding the strategist at Crane MetaMarketing, Ltd., Elements of Brand with contributions from Shelly Peters, director of program management at Crane List 10 well-known education brands. MetaMarketing. What is the essential truth at the core of Other recommended print and online each of these brands? resources include: Gather a broad sample of your schools Brightmark Consulting. Brand Book: printed or electronic materials: Planning for Your Brand Downloadable at stationery, brochures, summer program materials, newsletters, application Tim Brown, with Barry Katz. Change by forms, Twitter messages, invoices, Design: How Design Thinking Transforms address labels, school profiles, health Organizations and Inspires Innovation forms. Spread these out on a table. (Harper Business, 2009) To what degree are these documents Jane Cavalier. What is a Brand? visually and stylistically consistent with Downloadable at one another? Do the style and substance of each document reflect or contribute to the expression of the mission and values Harry G. Frankfurt. On Bullshit, (Princeton of the school? University Press, 2005) As a thought experiment, try filling in Fred McGaughan. Branding Independent Schools: A Novel Analogy, FRM Consulting the blank in this statement: [Your school] Blog, 1 February 2010 is the ONLY school in the world that Wally Olins. The Brand Handbook (Thames & Hudson, 2008) . Wally Olins on Brand (Thames & Hudson, 2004) Edward R. Tufte, as told to Jimmy Guterman. How Facts Change Everything (If You Let Them), MIT Sloan Management Review, Summer 2009 Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 12

13 Message: The Voice of Brand By Peter Gow Director of College Counseling, Beaver Country Day School The main goals must be to differentiate the school from others and to highlight the benefits of the schools programs. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 13

14 Message: The Voice of Brand M essage is both the voice and The essential elements of message, as the vocabulary by which brand an expression of brand, are few but non- is expressed. This vocabulary negotiable: is verbal and visual. And like brand itself, The message must be true: nonfiction, messages may be either intentionalcrafted, supported by evidence, its accuracy purposeful, controlledor unintentional. Both readily apparent. Particularly in the kinds have enormous power. nonprofit world of independent schools, Messages are manifestations of an the message should reflect the integrity of institutional brand. Theyre conveyed in the institution. taglines, logos, visual styles, and all the The message must be specific and other methods of communicating what relevant to the needs of the audience. This the school is about. The main goals also requires that the message not contain must be to differentiate the school from jargon or language that is idiosyncratic to others and to highlight the benefits of the the school. schools programs. The challenge is to The message must be consistent in tone create messages that are accurate, truthful and content. Language must be precise indicators of the schools culture and and persuasive, voice must be compelling, principles, values and aspirations, while also and chosen media must reach the correct being memorable and engaging. Mixed or audiences and represent the institution incomplete messages can confuse, distract, positively. and even alienate audiences. Beware the unintentional messages a school Schools are seldom at a loss for things may send because of either carelessness to say about themselves, but in crafting or a lack of internal clarity. The gravest error specific messages they must focus on the a school can make is to attempt to be all needs and desires of their audiences while things to all people. Messages that over- maintaining consistency in tone and content. generalizeor that claim to be almost, but Effective messaging begins with the schools not exactly, what the school iscan attract coming to a clear, concise, and consistent customers for whom disappointment is understanding of itself, and its purposes and likely, thus weakening the institution and the valuesin other words, its brand. brand. Such messages can do even greater damage internally than externally; faculty who see what they have long understood to Messages are manifestations be a schools mission and special qualities of an institutional brand. undermined or undervalued may become confused, frustrated, and ultimately cynical. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 14

15 Message: The Voice of Brand Serious damage can result when teachers Message plays a fundamental role in the and staff, the schools most important brand well-being of all schools. Patrick Bassett representatives and front-line marketers, lose of the National Association of Independent the will or the ability to support the school Schools has suggested that the perceived knowledgeably and confidently. value of an independent school education Inconsistent messaging can also cause can be calculated by dividing perceived damage. Visual messages that do not align outcomes by perceived price. In each with the schools verbal messages can create element of the formula the key element confusion or even an impression of hypocrisy. is perception. For a family to continue its Often such mixed messages are the result of investment, the education must be perceived institutional inertia, such as when traditional as a positive experience. Not only must and beloved images or expressions have not the school be able to provide such an kept pace with the dynamism of the school. experience, but it must also communicate its Beware, as well, either a dearth or a repetition promised outcomes in a powerful, positive, of images that might imply a lack of diversity, and authentic way in order to attract that whether programmatic or demographic. family in the first place. In addition, the This can be avoided by bringing people school must position the perceived price to with multiple perspectives into the planning be paid by familiesa cost in not only money process. but also time, energy, and commitment to a new communityas an expenditure, even As more independent schools undertake a sacrifice well worth making. Schools that program innovation, many find themselves effectively and consistently communicate hard-pressed to communicate the ways these messages of valuebacked up by in which these new initiatives are linked to strong programsare positioned not just to their core values. The key is to make explicit survive but to thrive. connections between a schools enduring culture and its future direction and to clearly demonstrate how the new programs can help move the school forward. It is often during times of significant change, incidentally, that schools seek third-party expertise in the areas of branding and messaging. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 15

16 3 Message: Message:The TheVoice Voiceof ofBrand Brand Three Acknowledgements and Resources Exercises This chapter incorporates the thoughts of experts who have shared their time and expertise: including Kathy Hanson, senior for Understanding Message consultant at Marts and Lundy; Tiffany Compose the elevator pitch that Hendryx, senior marketing strategist at expresses the essential truth at the core of Crane MetaMarketing, Ltd.; Paul Massey, senior vice-president of Weber Shandwick; your school. Ask six to eight other people and Myra McGovern, director of public at your school to do the same. What are the information at NAIS. common elements of these messages? How do they reflect or not reflect your schools Other recommended print and online resources include: mission and current (and aspirational) reality? How do they relate to its current Jamey Aiken. Brand Messaging. From marketing tagline? How do they resemble Neutron LLC. Downloadable at or differ from the messages of other independent schools in your market? download/013/brand_messaging.pdf Review your schools core messages as Brand Messaging: Why You Need It, and How To Develop It. My Brand Journal from they pertain to key audiences, such as Miller Brooks, Inc. Online at http://www.mb- young alumni/ae (under 30), parents, prospective families, prospective teachers, Business Messaging to The Masses. From students, and donors. Consider whether the Beth S. Miller Marketing Communications. messages are audience-appropriate and Online at relevant and if not, they should be modified. Messaging.html Look at your schools website for key visual Richard Cunningham. Developing a Formal (non-navigational) elements of the home Brand Messaging Document. Online page. How do they compare to other school at home pages in your market? What do you a-Formal-Brand-Messaging- need to do to ensure your site articulates Document&id=21926 your uniqueness? Elements of a Successful Brand 8: Messaging, Pivot Newsletter from Hinge Marketing. Online at http://www. of_a_successful_brand_8_messaging Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 16

17 Message: The Voice of Brand Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (Random House, 2008) Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Switch: How To Change Things When Change is Hard (Broadway Books, 2010) Keeping Your Brand Look and Message Consistent. My Brand Journal from Miller Brooks, Inc. Online at http://www.mb-journal. com/archives/2003/2003-03.shtml Robert A. Sevier. Moving Ahead with Confidence: Four Strategies for Fall 10 and Beyond. From Stamats, Inc. Downloadable at occasional_papers/occasional_papers.asp Stamats Higher Education Tagline Repository online at information/tagline_home.asp Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 17

18 The Elements of Message By Peter Gow Director of College Counseling, Beaver Country Day School The most effective way to gain control is to focus not on the message itself, however, but on the substance that underlies the message. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 18

19 The Elements of Message I f brand is the essence of a schools Much has been written about sticky work and message is the voice of brand, messages: messages designed not only to crafting effective messages must be attract but also to build lasting and positive regarded as crucial to the schools operation brand images. Most independent schools, and success. In the broadest sense, every as mission-driven nonprofit organizations, human interaction involving the school is a can look to their mission and core values part of its message. as the foundation of a messaging program, but, often, these documentssubstantive The challenge for schools lies in controlling and idealistic as they may beare either this message. The most effective way to gain too long or too general to serve as more control is to focus not on the message itself, than supporting statements in a focused however, but on the substance that underlies messaging initiative. More often, the the message. If the work of the institution messaging or branding program focuses on consistently adheres to the fundamental developing such elements as: values and principles expressed in the schools mission and strategic plan, you a tagline a simple statement, usually achieve the ideal state of messaginghaving eight words or fewer, that serves as a all parts of the school community singing the shorthand expression of the schools same song. essence; a positioning statement a succinct In an educational environment in which description of the schools attributes and public schools, charter schools, and advantages; and parochial private schools offer a range of alternatives to parents, independent schools, a logo a potent and distinctive symbol in particular, must craft and communicate or icon that also serves to establish the messages that resonate with families hoping visual style of the school. to provide an optimum education for their These elements are important. But a children. Schools messages must also strike tagline, positioning statement, and logo chords with other constituencies: alumni/ae, do not make a messaging initiative; they prospective teachers, and friends. Schools are only representations of the school. A must also attend to the community at large, messaging program must build on a set of which tacitly supports private education well-understood and universally agreed- through favorable tax and regulatory policies; upon messages that provide the deep there is enormous messaging power in a context for the schools internal and external schools detailed and widely disseminated communications. These points might flow community impact statement. directly from and enhance the key points of Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 19

20 The Elements of Message the positioning statement, but they are both school, its method of doing things, and less than and more than that. They are the its educational issues are not messages. thesis statement that the schools programs The message is what your school stands and policies must prove. forand what you want it to stand for. Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the book Many independent schools are named Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive supporters of public radio segments, for and Others Die, point out several pitfalls example; consider the message value in in developing durable messages. One is the association of a schools name and the curse of knowledge, the tendency tagline with a non-commercial, globally of message developers to promote what focused news program. they believe to be the most significant and Unexpected: Find ways of communicating valuable aspects of their product or service your message that play against rather than what their audience wants expectations or stereotypes. Surprise your and needs to know about it. Schools that audience by presenting your institution focus on specialized programs, esoteric in ways that do not typify your kind of technology, or unique services in their school, at least as most people perceive promotional materials may be missing the it. Messages that break stereotypes can point that families and students want above create lasting hooks in the public mind. all to learn about the actual experience of Concrete: Messages should contain being at the school. specific examples of experiences that Another danger is the tendency to overpack are real, tangible, and familiar to a broad messages, a trait not unknown to educators audience. By all means, tout the success accustomed to wringing every last teaching of your squash team, but focus on the point from any opportunity. As models, sweaty, happy faces of victorious kids consider the core messages of the Obama instead of the unfamiliar images of courts presidential campaigns Hope or Bill or racquets. Clintons Its the economy, stupid. Credible: Whatever you say or imply about your school, whether in words The idea template that the Heaths provide or images, make sure its not just for constructing memorable and effective true but readily visible as an accurate messages is built on the acronym S-U-C-C- representation of the whole truth. Partial E-S-S: college lists that contain only the names of Simple: Keep the talking points and core a few Ivies or photo galleries in which the messages to a pithy, punchy minimum. same beautiful courtyard or faces of color Remember that the facts about your Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 20

21 The Elements of Message A messaging program must build on a set of well-understood and universally agreed-upon messages that provide the deep context for the schools internal and external communications. appear again and again invite skepticism. unedited student and staff blogs were Emotional: For schools, whose stock in powerful tools not just for telling MITs trade is child development in all its messy story but for connecting applicants to the human glory, finding ways of adding admissions office. As Jones learned, schools emotional content to messages should should take every opportunity to show be the easiest part of the job. Even so, what is actually happening on campus, as maintain a good balance between logos opposed to only showcasing conventional (the logical, reasoned part of a message) successes. Accustomed to interactivity and pathos (the aspects relating to and reality-based media, prospective, feelings) . current, and even past members of a school Stories: Because they are human community welcome opportunities to peer institutions whose products are people into and interact with the real life of the and behaviors, schools should embrace institution. every opportunity to relate stories or Messages in the 21st century could scarcely anecdotes that authentically illustrate life exist without visual and multimedia elements. at the school. When possible, tell these When personal presentations are required, stories in the words of students and schools should take note of the well- teachers. Real-time blogs, online student known backlash against excessive verbal publications, and continually updated content in informational slideshows; Guy videos of classes and other student Kawasakis 10-slide/20-minute/30-point-font activities can tell a schools story far rule provides excellent advice for keeping more effectively than the most exquisitely messages simple, focused, and highly visual. crafted viewbook. In particular, stories of Most school websites feature extensive students transformational experiences photo sections, but its important to make can have extraordinary power as sticky sure that these represent the schools key messages. messages and brand in ways that would Some years back, Ben Jones of the meet the test of an on-site inspection. In Massachusetts Institute of Technology other words, dont stage photos if you can admissions office discovered that unfiltered, avoid it. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 21

22 The Elements of Message Heres a final point to underscore: Because messaging is an ongoing and organic part of a schools existence, it should never be thought of as a campaign. Ideally, the elements of a messaging programtagline, positioning statement, talking points, logo will be quickly and naturally absorbed into the life of the school. Although there may be good reasons to revisit and refresh these elements from time to time, messages should evolve with the schools essence, tracing its origins to the schools foundation but also representing the schools ongoing development. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 22

23 The TheElements Elementsof ofMessage Message 3 Three Exercises for Exploring Effective Messaging Consider the following taglines, some of which Consider these from different points of view: prospective parent/guardian, current parent/ are or were real and the last of which was never intended as a tagline but has sometimes guardian, prospective student, current student, prospective teacher, current teacher, graduate, been invoked as such for independent schools advancement officer at a rival school. in general. In what ways do these call to mind (or not call to mind) a particular kind of school Identify three areas in your school in which experience? your schools fundamental messageas expressed in promotional materials, the Every child deserves the chance to mission, values statements, or other key feel important documentsis at odds with actual practice. Inspiring lifelong learners since 1938 Consider why this disparity exists and Excellence Achievement Leadership what kind of change (in the practice or the Theres something about the outside of a message) might bring these into better horse thats good for the inside of a child alignment. When and why might this be The world is our community important? Under what circumstances might Because the journey matters a change not be worthwhile? The Battle of Waterloo was won on the Gather 10 stories or extended anecdotes playing fields of Our School from faculty, staff, parents/guardians, students, or graduates that you would regard as emblematic of the core principles and the value of your school. Consider ways in which these stories can become parts of the schools intentional efforts to tell its story. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 23

24 The Elements of Message Acknowledgements and Resources This chapter incorporates the thoughts of Tamar Lewin. M.I.T. Taking Student experts who have shared their time and Blogs to Nth Degree, New York Times, expertise: including Kathy Hanson, senior 1 October 2009 Online at consultant at Marts and Lundy; Tiffany Hendryx, senior marketing strategist at education/02blogs.html?_r=1 Crane MetaMarketing, Ltd.; Paul Massey, McShea, Kathy. Message Development: senior vice-president of Weber Shandwick; The Secrets of Creating a Sticky Message, and Myra McGovern, director of public (2008). PowerPoint slideshow online at information at NAIS. Other recommended print and online development resources include: Diego Rodriguez. Designing Sticky Branding Bytes e-newsletter from Messages, Metacool blog, 10 November Checco Communications. Online 2008. Online at metacool/2008/11/nascar-sticky.html bytes_V001-I018.htm Derrick Daye and Brad Van Auken, Brand Messaging: Visual Over Verbal, Brand Strategy Insider, 8 February 2010. Online at http://www.brandingstrategyinsider. com/2010/02/brand-messaging-visual-over- verbal.html Heath Brothers website, (Incorporates content from Dan Heath and Myra McGovern. Sticky Messages, NAIS Financially Sustainable Schools Podcast, 16 February 2009, Podcast%20Dan%20Heath%20309.mp3 Guy Kawasaki. The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, How to Change the World blog, 30 December 2005. Online at http://blog. html#axzz0neSrH5pL Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 24

25 How Does the World See You? How Does the World See You? By Carol Cheney President, Cheney and Company Consistent satisfaction matters, and that means you need to deliver on your promise every day

26 How Does the World See You? W ell, it depends on the audience. complex cases. These prior investors weigh their involvement with your school from The insidersfaculty and staff, another time and circumstance against what, students, parents, grandparents, if anything, are you doing for me now? neighbors, and key volunteerswill rank you according to how you treat them, which You can hope for a positive assessment from translates to how they feel about their people who remember you kindly. But your accumulated experience with the institutional most influential allies among this group of family they bought into or live next to. If would-be endorsers are the individuals you theyre satisfied overall, theyll be more willing steward into the present and the future. Show to forgive the quirks, especially if you really Ms. Alumna, Dr. Parent, and Mr. College make them feel proud. The more notable your Admission Officer how you have carried reputation, the easier it will be to get a high forward familiar bedrock values to each and score, even if you could have done better at every student, and you will have them hook, certain things. line, and sinker. Forget to communicate with them or throw a new brand at them without But if you make too many mistakes, get ready a thoughtful plan, and be prepared for the for a Facebook page, carpool line, or faculty cold shoulder. room reexamination of what am I getting/ doing for my money? On a grander scale, if The outsidersthese are the prospective there is too much unexplained and difficult students, families, and teachers; peers; change, youre headed for trouble. This is partners; and the public, the audience the reality of the perceived outcomes and segments we refer to most often when we perceived value equation Pat Bassett talks use the word marketing. about. You are already communicating with all those Consistent satisfaction matters, and internal and external groups in very personal that means you need to deliver on your ways, to the extent that your staff, volunteer promise every day, year after year, at every programs, and budget will allow. But external intersection of those internal audiences audiences know you only through word of who bump into each other all the time. The mouth plus advertising, directories, websites, message on the inside is customer service, and newspaper articlesand thats where set against a backdrop of expectation, pure what you say becomes really important. and simple. We really know who we are; we just dont The insiders/outsidersalumni, past know how to communicate it. We never parents, former faculty, summer program brag about all the great things going on at attendees, and collegesare definitely our school. Our publications and website Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 26

27 How Does the World See You? are drab and boring. Our logo looks like it Survey current parents to assess their came out of Camelot. If these are maladies satisfaction with your school. Parent you suffer at your school, follow this four- satisfaction is often measured using a step process, and youll be well on your combination of quantifiable surveys and way to improving your brand. The steps informal focus groups. One school found need not be sequential; this work can go on that the best way to capture parents simultaneously. attention was on fall teacher meeting nights when parents could fill out surveys 1 Look in the mirror on clipboards while waiting to see their You wont really know how the world sees childs teacher. you until you start actively listening and Conduct focus groups with representatives asking. Do you really know yourself? Heres of your important internal and external the front-end homework: constituencies to find out where they think Test your mission statement against the you measure up or fall short. Engaging in reality of your schooldoes the founding discussions with small groups of people philosophy remain relevant and accurate yields more than great stories. Focus today and tomorrow? Are you living the groups get at the hearts and minds of your mission 100 percent? Remember that a important audiences. mission statement articulates a schools List your schools attributes and points core vision, beliefs, and hopes for the of distinction that support the promise total educational experience offered you want people to remember. Include to students. Viewed from a marketing signature programs, individual and perspective, this general statement does community achievements, facilities, not necessarily differentiate a school philanthropy and volunteer involvement, from competing schools, which may have financial aid, location and access, and so similar values and goals. forth. Gather all the research youve done on List obvious weaknesses and your school in one place and study the misperceptions about your school findings. Consider accreditation self- (you know theyre out there!). These studies, strategic plan meeting minutes, may include uneven quality among feasibility studies, exit interviews, departments or divisions, frequent admission studies, college freshmen turnover of staff, inconsistent discipline, surveys, reunion questionnaires, individual too-frequent or confusing communication, discussions, and so forth. cost, excessive homework, lack of good outcomes, and less-than-great facilities. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 27

28 How Does the World See You? Look objectively and critically at your 3 Compare your school visual identity system, including the to your competitors logo, and all your print and electronic Market research can verify your findings. A communications. Does the overall combination of qualitative (opinions/feelings) presentation make an impact and match research and quantitative (statistically the quality of your programs? You cant significant surveying) works best. expect your sterling reputation to do the heavy lifting while youre sending 4 Scan the horizon out dull or amateurish messages. The What are the external factors in your area most discerning schools know that that may affect how you can talk about their communications materials send your school most effectively? For example, cues about their professionalism and is your school located in a growth area? Is management; mediocre and unmatched your prospective population changing? Is materials tell the world that the right hand it expensive to live near your school? How doesnt know what the left hand is doing. far are people willing to travel to get to your school? Suggested homework: 2Get to know Send for your areas Chamber of your competitors Commerce relocation package and Become familiar with your competitor schools economic development reports beyond hearsay and stereotypes; study your cross-over and aspirant schools closely. Use the NAIS Demographic Center tool Among the steps you can take: ( and StatsOnline ( Scour their websites Assign business people on your board Send for their publications to talk to community influencers who Find out their tuitions can assess the awareness and stature of Assign parents to mystery shop these independent schools in your area and the schools and attend school fairs relative strength of the public and charter Ask your students about the schools their schools friends attend Next step: Look at the buzz on the parent networks The positioning statement and ranking guides Youve gathered the data that will give Go to their athletic events direction to your marketing communications. Have your colleagues talk to their peers at No more guesswork! Now you can augment competitor schools your mission statement with a two-sentence Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 28

29 How Does the World See You? positioning statement about how you would products manufacturers have relied almost like to be seenthe best in your category, of entirely on the content of their productsthat course. Remember that your wish must be is functionality, quality, usage information, based in reality (expect initial disagreement lowest priceto build their brands. But this and forget being the premier school in the approach is no longer sufficient. Crawford country). and Mathews then go on to describe a The positioning statement articulates how Customer Relevancy index that includes a school wants to be viewed by the outside five attributes: world. It focuses the messages that direct 1.access the marketing communications program. Its 2.experience most salient benefit will be to help the school 3.price achieve its strategic goals through consistent, 4.product cohesive, and differentiated communications 5.service with important audiences. It is not intended as a public statement but is used internally to ...with an emphasis on context over content. guide strategy, planning, tactics, and creative Consumers are looking for products that are approach. inspirational, empowering, and that reinforce or improve their self-image. Manufacturers, How to connect on the other hand, are still by and large with your audience lost in the land of efficacy....Human values, In The Myth of Excellence: Why Great not commercial value, have become the Companies Never Try to Be the Best at contemporary currency of commerce. The Everything, authors Fred Crawford and Ryan authors note that Today, differentiation is Mathews say that a products features and found in the manner in which the product or functions are no longer enough to capture service is rendered, viewed through the lens the imagination...For years, most consumer- of human values. the one overarching, defining messagemust grow from ongoing internal dialogue, an unwavering commitment to core values, a strong connection between research findings and superb creative execution, and consistent, well-planned communication across all available platforms. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 29

30 How Does the World See You? The ideas they express should be part of Keep in mind that about 95 percent of an school thinking, too. How a school interacts independent schools identity is true of other with its constituencies is as important as or schools. The 5 percentthe one overarching, more important than the programs it offers. defining messagemust grow from ongoing How do schools make people feel welcome, internal dialogue, an unwavering commitment valued, and safe? By doing such things as: to core values, a strong connection between answering the phone pleasantlyno research findings and superb creative automated trees execution, and consistent, well-planned communication across all available platforms. caring for the facilities and the campus posting easy-to-follow signage Active management of your brand means assuring that your schools word-of-mouth responding quickly to email and index is five-star. Whats required is seeing othercommunications things from the other persons point of view providing clear, trustworthy and doing unto others as you would have communication from teachers, the them do unto you. business office, and the website (from report cards to school closings to annual fund expectations) offering nutritious, tasty food making drop-off and pick-up fast and efficient being fair about discipline From listening to messaging This all starts with listening! It seems so obvious, but schools are distracting themselves with the hunt for a brand as though this is something that can be heaven- sent. Often they are asking the wrong questions. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 30

31 How Does the World See You? Resources: NAIS Advocacy Initiative Communications How to Unleash the Power of Brand Handbook (core messages for all Repositioning: A Four Phase Process by independent schools) Gregory Pollack; True Stories: A Cautionary files/PDFs/AICommHandbook.pdf Tale of Rebranding Gone Astray by Liz Conlin; and other examples of smart thinking An Anthropological Context: Making Your Mission Statement Mesh with Your Curriculum By Lauren W. Hasten from Fall Managing communications, technology, and 2009 Independent School social media: a blog by Elizabeth Allen Articulate to Resonate: Crafting and Communication Messages that Matter by Mission, Mantra, Meaning from Fall Eric Norman, Sametz Blackstone Associates 2009 Independent School http://www. The CMOs guide to: The Social Landscape cfm?ItemNumber=152255 (ranking ten social media in an easy-to-read Office space: Dont lose focus by Carol matrix) Cheney in the July/August 2010 issue Crawford, F. & Mathews, R. (2003). The Myth of Case Currents (accessible to CASE of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never members only): Try to Be the Best at Everything. New York, Publications_and_Products/CURRENTS/ NY: Three Rivers Press. CURRENTS_Archive/2010/JulyAugust_2010/ Office_Space_Dont_Lose_Focus.html Demonstrations of Learning for 21st-Century Schools by Patrick F. Bassett ismagazinearticle.cfm?ItemNumber=152280 Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 31

32 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story By Carol Cheney President, Cheney and Company The key to success is starting with high-quality ingredients Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 32

33 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story T he realities and challenges of who already know you (alumni, past parents, increased competition from faculty). Your indecipherable seal can actually private and public schools in a reinforce the negative perceptions of elitism demographically shifting and economically that independent schools work so hard to squeezed environment are relatively new to overcome. (Unless you want to be viewed independent schools. When seats and beds as exclusive rather than inclusive, consider were full, no one thought too much about the saving the shield for your diplomas.) importance of marketing communications, A warning to change agents! Schools have but not so today. begun to put a lot of money and energy into Responsibility for communicating has been so-called rebranding, mistakenly thinking scattered across offices and departments, it begins and ends with a new logo and and the tactical habit has been Do what we tagline. There are often so many divergent did last year. Under these circumstances it yet strongly held opinions about a schools has been very difficult for schools to think identity that the process derails, distracting strategically about their audiences and leadership attention away from building messages, and their materials generally consensus in other areas, such as curriculum, fail to distinguish one school from another. financial aid, and new revenue streams. Everyone is obsessed with brand and The truth is, its not easy to find the magic searching for an iconic emblem and tagline tagline that avoids triteness or generalities that will instantly set them apart in the crowd. and, frankly, most big ideas have already They think that commercial branding models been expressed by someone else. If you want will work for schools. But schools are highly to take a look, go to complex service organizations, and their and download The Nonprofit Tagline Report, stories cant be told effectively in a word which discusses the topic in detail and lists or two. more than 2,500 taglines. The most important element of an identity Visual Brandingthe system is not the icon or the motto. It is Thumbprint of Your Story your name and your ability to become more The popular definition of branding is whats strategic and systematic about getting it out at the top of your letterhead and on the spirit to the public. This is all about typography wear in your store. and color, not doodads. Think about Yale and Traditionalists stick with the time-honored Bryn Mawr and CalTechits the name that heraldic approach to school identity. But this conjures up your thoughts of the place first is ineffective in distinguishing one school and foremost. from another except among the audiences Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 33

34 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story Genus & SpeciesYoure More The Power of Storytelling Alike than Different When trying to define your school in Historically, independent schools have emotionally compelling ways, one challenge been preoccupied with demonstrating how you face is how to quantify your schools different they are from one another, but the benefits. Its hard to prove youre worth the truth is that your institutional DNA makes your price tag. school part of a family. You are 95 percent And this is where storytelling comes into play. like the other independent schools, and thats Storytelling conveys meaning at an emotional something to applaud, especially given the level, connecting the teller and the listener sorry state of American education today. through metaphor, drama, and memorable You dont need to take your eye off your details that leave a lasting impression. competitors, but you do need to redirect Traditionally we have not associated your view to focus on your customers. storytelling with school recruitment materials, Since you are far more similar to other magazines, and websites, which have schools than different from them, figuring been designed to convey a broad array of out your distinct attributes and a way to information through a factual presentation. express your value proposition is crucial. The UMagazinology credo Be read or Acknowledge the elements that make up dont bother refers to magazines, but your independent school identity. People the principles apply to all marketing have come to expect that most independent communications materials: schools will exhibit these traits, so you have to go beyond the obvious. To stand out in The only people required to read our the crowd, you have to accentuate that small magazines are our life partners, and half percent that is unique to you. of them duck out on us. For everyone else, reading a campus magazine is voluntary. Your essence grows out of the interaction of the people who make up your community If your magazine is not being read, every students, faculty, administrators, parents, dollar that your school pours into it might alumni, and friends. Families are seeking as well be poured down a storm drain. quality teaching and want their children to What do people read? People read stories. have strong relationships with their teachers, Engaging, compelling, deeply reported, for example. Yet very few schools do much well-crafted stories. True stories. to present their faculty to prospective families Ergo, if you want people to read your and alumni as dynamic, dimensional human magazine, and thus not waste your beings. schools money, you need to tell great stories, real stories that have narrative Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 34

35 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story drive, vivid actors, and meaningful The most important element knowledge, all conveyed with a storytellers verve. of an identity system is not the Reading is a form of commitment, and icon or the motto. It is your name the longer your reader engages with your and your ability to become more material, the more your perceived value will strategic and systematic about grow in their minds as a leader and authority in your field. The longer they spend reading, getting it out to the public. the more likely they are to give serious thought to taking action. prospective family can make? What about When putting together your magazine or donors thoughts as they review your appeal other materials, you have to get out on the along with the other causes they want to beatteachers will not automatically come support? to you with story ideas. They are immersed You must anticipate your audiences needs in their students and classes, so you need to and expectations and help them get a sense be the one to ferret out the individual tales of of what life is like at your institution. This is excellence that abound in every classroom. best done by connecting the overarching theme of your story with specific, interesting Elements of a Good Story examples, often conveyed through the voices Reading a magazine, paging through a of real people who make up the schools school viewbook, or visiting the campus extended family. website should provide an experience, not an encyclopedia entry or list of attaboys. Authenticity is a key ingredient of a powerful The content and presentation are far more story. A narrative engages its audiences effective when the focus is on feelings rather through psychological realismrecognizable than features, and this means engaging emotions and believable interactions with your audience on its terms, something among the characters involved. This is why schools often discount or fail to consider. its so important that your materials use language and examples that are not full of In other words, the key to bonding with the inflated rhetoric or generalizations that will audience you seek to attract is empathy bring a Yeah, right or Huh? from your putting yourself in the other persons shoes. readers, especially among families new to What are your audiences hopes, fears, independent education. questions, and concerns as they contemplate Show, dont tell should be a schools one of the most important, deeply personal, editorial mantra when producing materials long-lasting, and expensive decisions a Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 35

36 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story to support recruitment and parent/alumni Todays young people are very sophisticated relations. Move away from the hugs and visually and technologically. Most applause that fill hundreds of school independent school ninth graders can build publications and toward real photojournalistic a website in half an hour. Teen audiences content that matches the philosophy and respond well to a photojournalistic style that excellence of your education. Magazines looks unposed and natural. Remember that should not be glorified society columns, and people, especially kids, have an uncanny viewbooks should not be owners manuals. knack for spotting things that look phony or Let your audiences connect the dots. After set up. all, the people you cater to like to think. But Every cell phone and PDA has a camera, and dont expect too much from them. People every user fancies himself a photographer. are busy and easily distracted; theyre Snapshot photography is everywhere, bombarded by all kinds of messages every and school websites and Facebook pages day. Remember that a good story shouldnt need constant feeding. To meet this be full of unnecessary verbiage. need, bloggers and school webmasters Humor and surprise strengthen your story. rightly advocate for the use of in-house Honesty and openness increase your shooting to show the daily life of their credibility. schools. But there is a time and a place for everything. Professional photography can Photos Tell Stories add to the impact of both print and online School communicators need to remember communications. Well-composed, beautiful that photos are just as important as words images pull the viewer into a scene. Photos in telling a compelling story. The text and should be taken with high enough resolution visuals of your publications and website that you can use them in print, not just should support each other. Aim to combine online. A good rule of thumb is to budget for interesting or unusual bits of information at least a day of professional photography with relevant photos in an arresting graphic every academic year, supplemented by presentation. informal shooting using in-house talent. When choosing photos, too often political A Difficult Balance considerations trump good storytelling. From an operations standpoint, schools Insiders may lean toward selecting shots of face a real problem in keeping up with all the popular students and faculty regardless of new delivery vehicles that seem to appear the quality and message the photos convey almost weekly. Web, email, and social to the intended audience. media have been added to traditional print Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 36

37 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story communications without new dollars or staff automatically accept data entered online into to support the expanded effort it takes to their software systems. Fix your databases manage them. and information integrationnow! And most schools already have inadequate Paper calendars, invitations, and even annual staff to handle communications. Those with fund appeals are disappearing, and many no designated director may be scrambling schools are no longer publishing annual to take pictures, update the website, train donor reports, which have suffered from low faculty and parents on email and portals, and readership for years. otherwise troubleshoot on top of editorial Schools and colleges continue to publish work, media relations, event planning, design, print magazines, but the content has become and direction of outside freelancers or more thematic and timeless, with feature agencies. And someone has to monitor and stories more tightly aligned with mission and manage the social media. program. (Thats a good thing!) Those who No wonder different offices and departments can afford it adapt these periodicals for the do their own thing as an essential work- website and electronic newsletters. This is around. When this happens, though, not the same as simply posting PDFs of print coordination of strategy and message often pieces. You may save printing costs, but you flies out the window. Publications arrive late are likely to lose even more audience interest and the website features last years content because people dont like reading online and or empty pages. Youve got to make some are not likely to download a bunch of PDFs. smart choices. If you want to know how your audiences would like you to deliver various kinds of Paper vs. Pixels communication, you need to ask themthink Well do more and more reading on screens, but survey or focus group. they wont replace papernever mind what your Its pretty clear that print is here to stay, at friend with a Kindle tells you. Rather, paper seems to be the new Prozac. A balm for the distracted least for a while longer. There is a tradition mind. Its contained, offline, tactile. of paper that people expect, and its feel is William Powers, Hamlets Blackberry satisfying. Paper is tangible and lasting and frees the reader from computers and hand- Its clear that the paper newsletter is held devices. Paper also allows for in-depth vanishing, as it should, since electronic stories and an emotional connection with the alternatives can be updated continuously. reader. One of the advantages of print is that Forms are also going electronic, although you can run photos large, thereby increasing many schools are finding the transition their impact. difficult since they do not have the capacity to Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 37

38 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story The downside of paper is that printing is Resources expensive and consumes natural resources. Articulate to Resonate: Crafting and Content is out-of-date by the time of printing, Communicating Messages That Matter and publications require high-resolution photography. Some people view print as articles/2010/3505/articulate-to-resonate- outmoded and anti-environmental. crafting-and-communicating-messages- that-matter Committing to the Story Tips on developing and using your message When comparing the cost of print vs. (membership required) electronic communication, many schools Brand Control to Major Tom: falsely view electronic options as low or no The New Rules of Brand Management budget. They forget to factor in staff time. It takes people to develop content and maintain php?option=com_content&view= websites, and the same careful planning, article&id=420:brand-control-to- content development, visual design, and major-tom-the-new-rules-of-brand- brand consistency are just as necessary to management&catid=22&Itemid=132 electronic materials as they are to printand Advice on controlling (somewhat) your brand in the age of social networking and two-way time and talent are expensive. communication The future holds less paper, for sure, but I Five Things to Think About Before You hope it also holds more professional attention Launch Your Next Website to all communications materials so they can better align school goals with audience articles/2010/3678/five-things-to-think- interests. The key to success is starting with about-before-you-launch-your-next- high-quality ingredientssmart, sparkling website/?adref=znnpbsc42610 interviews and quotes, gorgeous photos, A practical guide to planning a successful launch great designand creating communications or relaunch (membership required) that demonstrate the relevance of your Lazy Eyes: How We Read Online education and how you envision the future for your students. Advice on writing for the web Hamlets Blackberry: Why Paper Is Eternal Hamlets-Blackberry-Why-Paper-Is-Eternal A fascinating essay on why paper isnt going away Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 38

39 Conveying Your Message by Telling Your Story Operation Reputation: How to Manage and Wally Olins: The Brand Handbook Protect Your Institutions Online Image (Thames & Hudson) The best book ever on all things brand-related Products/CURRENTS/CURRENTS_ Word Perfect: Rewrite Your Website to Archive/2009/October_2009/Operation_ Engage Customers and Inspire Their Trust Reputation.html A great CASE CURRENTS article (membership online-seminars/222 required) An excellent online seminar (membership The Social Media Cheat Sheet required) social-media-cheat-sheet/ A terrific reference chart showing the best uses for each social media tool Ten Commandments for Online Social Networking articles/2009/3213/ten-commandments-for- effective-online-social-networking A 10-step plan for social-network involvement. True Stories: A Cautionary Tale of Rebranding Gone Astray articles/2009/3263/true-stories-a-cautionary- tale-of-rebranding-gone-astray Tips on avoiding the perils and pitfalls of rebranding (membership required) The UMagazinology credo umagazinology-credo/ An explanation of why readers read magazines Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 39

40 Measuring Brand and Message Effectiveness By Peter Gow Director of College Counseling, Beaver Country Day School Your school should expect to hear positive echoes of your key messages within the hallways, from applicants Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 40

41 Measuring Brand and Message Effectiveness A branding and messaging campaign website. As in any measurement program, must be built around clear, make sure you start with good baseline definable goals. Measuring your data to measure your progress against. progress will improve the odds of meeting Media Coverage: Monitor and analyze your goals and help you make changes if the media presence of rival or comparable an approach or message is not working as schools. Apply marketing guru Katie effectively as youd hoped it would. Delahaye Paines Kick Butt Index: Is your school receiving more favorable, brand- To track and measure the effectiveness of resonant coverage than theirs? This would your schools messages, consider three key also apply to the schools social media factors: footprint and activity level; work to win the OUTPUTSthe number of products battle of comparative data. generated by the campaign (press releases, Inquiries Plus: Consider the answer to articles generated, times the spokesperson How did you hear about us? as crucial is quoted, and so forth); information when processing inquiries OUTTAKEShow these messages are but extend the question by asking what perceived by important audiences; and factors made inquirers decide to take the OUTCOMESoperational and behavioral next step and contact your school. For changes, both internal and external, that can example, a prospective student might be attributed to the campaign. flag the schools strong commitment to environmental sustainability as a key Use the following dedicated, school-specific reason for the admission inquiry. tools to evaluate brand and message effectiveness: Admission Funnel: Think of the funnel from inquiries to interviews to applications Web Analytics: Drill deeply. Carefully to acceptances to enrollments. Yes, monitor activity, including timelines, on you want volume in inquiries, but you your sites most brand- and message-rich also want to see an upward trend in pages; note spikes, or the lack thereof, yield (enrollments as a percentage that indicate whether specific messaging of acceptances), indicating deeper initiatives are driving traffic to your penetration of the schools values and Diminishing inquiry volume may mean that your brand is actually being better understood and that non-best-fit applicants are being weeded out Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 41

42 Measuring Brand and Message Effectiveness messages. Dont forget that diminishing Acknowledgments and Resources inquiry volume may mean that your brand Material for this chapter came from is actually being better understood and conversations and correspondence with Pat that non-best-fit applicants are being Bassett, president of NAIS; Tiffany Hendryx, weeded outbut the proof of this will senior marketing strategist at Crane be revealed in higher percentages of MetaMarketing, Ltd.; Gary Kohn, marketing interviews, applications, and enrollments and communications director at Keith as measured against initial inquiries. Country Day School (IL); Myra McGovern, director of public information at NAIS; Katie Faculty Count: Dont forget prospective Delahaye Paine of KDPaine & Partners; faculty as a brand and message audience, school finance expert Jim Pugh; Jeffery and track both yield (percentage of offers Wack, principal of JTWack & Company; and accepted by the schools first-choice Thomas Yoshida, new media specialist in teacher candidates) and attrition in the first communications and community relations, one to three years of teachers tenure. Exit Kamehameha Schools (HI). interviews can provide further information Other recommended print and online about how well your schools messages resources include: match up to reality in the area of faculty recruitment. Dawn Anfuso. Measuring Brand Perception (interview with Deborah Fund-raising: Giving, quantified in both Eastman). In iMediaConnection online at dollars and participation, is a brand measure on two levels: From current and content/7332.asp very recent families, it is an indicator of customer satisfaction, and from past Guy Kawasaki. How to Drive Your students, families, and friends, it shows Competition Crazy: Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit (Hyperion, 1996) both long-term satisfaction and pride of association. Watch trends, and monitor Guy Kawasaki. Selling the Dream differences among constituencies. (Harper, 1992) Address discrepancies by improving KDPaine & Partners. The Measurement programming as well as messaging. Standard online newsletter. Subscribe In the end, your school should expect to hear at positive echoes of your key messages within signupId:43798 the hallways, from applicants and families, and in the broader communitysure signs that your actions and communications are successfully securing your institutions brand and vitality. Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 42

43 Measuring Brand and Message Effectiveness Katie Delahaye Paine. Measuring Public Relationships (KDPaine & Partners, 2007). The first chapter is available for free download: bookblog/files/PaineRelationshipsChapter1. pdf Stratton Publishing & Marketing, Inc. Smart Publishing newsletter. Online at smart_publishing.html Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools 43

44 About the Authors Carol Cheney President Peter Gow Cheney and Company, Creative Director of College Counseling Marketing Communications. Beaver Country Day School New Haven, CT Brookline, MA [email protected] [email protected] Carol established her firm in 1983 to Peter has been teaching in independent work with schools, colleges, healthcare schools for over 30 years. He is a frequent organizations, and other nonprofits on their writer for NAIS, including Independent publications and public relations initiatives. School magazine. She is a regular writer and presenter for NAIS and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 1620 L Street, NW Suite 1100 Washington, DC 20036 (202) 973-9700 Messaging and Branding: A How-To Guide 2010 National Association of Independent Schools

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