Three Ways a School’s Branding Sets the Stage for a Vibrant Future

March 28, 2014

In today’s technology-savvy, interconnected world, the very people Catholic schools are trying to reach are inundated daily with a constant stream of content competing for their attention. A branding strategy is essential to the school’s ability to stand out from the crowd, achieve its mission and set the stage for sustainable growth. A well planned, shared and executed branding strategy:

1.      Brings the School’s Mission to Life

Ideally the mission is developed through a collaborative process that helps the school focus on ideas that everybody in the community can own.

The school’s mission answers the questions: Who are we? What do we do? What do we aspire to be? What makes us unique?

“The school’s brand then helps to bring this mission to life in a clear, concise and compelling way,” said Marsha Higbee, Consultant, Healey Education Foundation. “The brand differentiates the school, sheds a light on its unique identity and helps to get everyone on the same page with a common way of speaking about the school.”

While Catholic schools commonly embrace both their Catholic identity and academic excellence as essential to their purpose, each school has its own personality, history, strengths and vision. The common mission and corresponding messages and tagline for the school should express these attributes.

“Posing additional direct questions can sometimes help a school arrive at its mission and messages,” Higbee explained. “These attributes are sometimes shared beliefs or traits that the community has known about but just never thought to articulate.”

What are your school’s strengths? What are you known for? Why do families choose your school? What is your competitive advantage? What do you hope to be the best in the world at?

  • Berks Catholic High School (Reading, PA) has established a brand around the four pillars of God, Family, Academics and Fun. (See the best practices case study, The School Brand.)
  • The mission of Saint Mary School (Vineland, NJ)—Minds at Work. Hearts with God. Lives of Service—inspires and directs the actions of the leaders, faculty, students, families and community members who bring it to life.
  • The tagline for St. John Vianney Regional School (Allentown, PA), In faith—celebrating today, embracing tomorrow, represents well a school that, among other qualities, offers a unique Prayer Partner program, encourages independent thinking and problem-solving and provides an enriched curriculum for tomorrow’s “global leaders.”

2.      Creates a Consistent and Professional Visual Identity for the School

As the visual representation of the school, the logo captures the essence of the school in a single image that becomes instantly recognizable. Several Healey partner schools have recently developed or redesigned their logos as part of their rebranding initiatives.

Eventually the logos, school colors and consistent messaging will be used across all advertising and direct mail, print publications such as admissions brochures and newsletters, and digital media such as websites, social networking and e-mail marketing campaigns.

3.      Shares Expectations, Experiences and a Vision

Branding is more than a logo. It also is not just an idea for the school’s identity created in a vacuum and then delivered directly to prospective and current students and their families.

Branding is a promise and a collaboration. The school’s brand is influenced by the collective memory of the community, made authentic by current expectations and experiences and strengthened by a vision for the future.

By sharing what is happening and being planned at the school, including stories showcased through the media, the school community continues to make the brand real.