The higher education industry is becoming increasingly crowded, and schools must stand out to sustain competition.
Schools need to create a unified identity to make it easier for potential students to reach out and learn about their programs. Here, school branding can be a game-changer!
Do a quick search, and you’ll learn how schools opt for branding elements to create a cohesive image. Schools no longer use clip-art logos or have outdated websites; instead, they are becoming brands.
But do you know what school branding is?
School branding is a process of giving meaning to your school, creating a positive perception, and shaping a brand’s value in the minds of potential students. It goes beyond the logo and tagline.
A well-defined school branding includes position, promise, value, story, and associations. It requires consistency to build a brand and storytelling skills to communicate.
School branding in the education sector offers several key benefits that include:
- Clear and consistent brand image
- Improves engagement
- Boosts visibility
- Enhance reputation and credibility
- Help attract potential students
- Increase student enrollment
A strong brand reflects a school’s values, culture, and identity.
In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 highly effective tips for school branding that you can incorporate to create a stellar brand that stands out.
- Visual Identity and Design
- Creating a Consistent Brand Voice
- Branding Touchpoints
- Involving the School Community
- Engage Alumni Ambassadors
- Host Branding Events
- Showcase Faculty Expertise
- Green Initiatives
- Showcase Student Success
- Celebrate Traditions
10 Effective Tips for School Branding [With Examples]
School branding is essential to create differentiation and deliver value propositions. Branding gives a sense of belonging and fosters interest among potential students.
Let’s explore school branding ideas and tips that can help you create a strong brand and leave a strong impression on your potential students.
1. Visual Identity and Design for Consistent School Branding
The first impression matters, and as humans, we are visual creatures.
A human brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds. Therefore, strong visuals can persuade potential students to take action.
Visual identity refers to the logos, colors, typography, images, and overall design elements that create a memorable brand image. And beyond that, it also includes the brand’s message, value, and personality that make uniqueness and a point of differentiation.
When branding your school, your visual identity and design must be:
A higher education institution’s visual identity and design must evoke emotions and make it easier for potential students to associate with the brand.
Follow these four steps to create a visual brand identity:
- Know your audience
- Define your brand’s purpose
- Evoke emotions through a brand story
- Define visual brand identity purposes & roles
Without giving a visual identity to your school brand, you won’t be able to get the due attention.
For example, the visual identity and design of Harvard University represent the brand and focus on the name to create an organically expandable system that highlights the uniqueness of the institution.
Source: Harvard Business School
2. Creating a Consistent Brand Voice for a Strong School Branding
Creating a consistent brand voice instills confidence in your school and influences enrollment decisions. A brand voice allows you to maintain trust and credibility among potential students. Setting a brand voice enables you to be distinctive, identifiable, and consistent across platforms.
Therefore, a brand voice can be defined as the emotions, thoughts, and values that convey your message and appeal to the target audience.
In today’s crowded digital landscape, a strong high school branding voice is essential to capture attention and establish recognition. Your brand’s voice plays a pivotal role in driving increased visibility and scalability and maintaining consistency across various platforms.
You create the foundation for a successful and recognizable high school presence in the competitive online environment by crafting a compelling and distinctive brand voice.
There are several ways to develop a brand voice across channels. We’ll walk you through essential steps to create a brand voice for your school.
- Create a brand voice guide to maintain focus
- Establish a tone to create content
- Document everything and be consistent
- Revisit and revise your guide
Embracing and finding a brand voice tailored to your values, audience, and mission will help potential students learn more about the school.
For example, Texas A&M University has defined its voice tone through traits such as determined, bold, proud, confident, ambitious, clever, direct, humble, assertive, and emotional.
These brand voice traits are reflected through social media platforms, maintaining consistency and a recognizable brand.
Source: Texas A&M University
3. Branding Touchpoints
The process of building and representing brands has completely changed over the past few years. Branding schools through touchpoints enables lead generation in higher education.
Brand touchpoints occur whenever you see, hear, or read about a brand. There are three types of branding touchpoints that schools need to consider:
- Pre-enrollment touchpoints
- Enrollment touchpoints
- Post-enrollment touchpoints
You need to combine different elements to create a brand touchpoint. That’s why we recommend you begin a cohesive experience that optimizes touchpoint and help you scale your marketing.
School brand touchpoints include:
- Social media
- Online forms
- Student support
- Online Ads
- Word of mouth
- And all other areas where potential students come across your school name
Presenting brand consistency will help you generate ROI and increase enrollments. But, your potential students might come across negative touchpoints. So, you must ensure branding touchpoints are well-executed and continuously monitored.
4. Involving the School Community
School branding is a collaborative process that requires the school community’s involvement. The school community must stay connected, well-informed and promote cohesiveness.
Follow these school branding tips to involve the community:
- Connect with the community
- Get information out in the community
- Encourage open two-way communication
School Community is about creating a sense of belonging, making it essential to let the potential and existing students feel accepted, valued, and included. All can be possible only if the school community fully understands the brand elements and touchpoints. They can boost student retention, improve attendance rates, and promote optimism.
5. Engage Alumni Ambassadors
Alums are the brand ambassadors of your school. With fierce competition in the global higher education industry, Alumni reflect your brand and leave a lasting impression like no other.
Alums bring engagement, nostalgia, trust, and emotions. You can use alums to support you in school branding as they are the people who graduate and enter different professions.
Alums become industry experts, leaders, and entrepreneurs and are future role models for potential and existing students. Therefore, their word of mouth can add substantial value to your school brand.
Different school branding examples are available, but here’s one of the best ways to engage, attract and retain potential students through an alum network.
An alumna from the AZUSA Pacific University hosts a podcast where she shares experiences regarding life after college and how her degree helped her take significant risks and step out of her comfort zone to achieve success.
This authentic conversation with the alums will boost engagement as most of the potential and existing students would be able to relate.
Source: UZUSA Pacific University
6. Host Branding Events
Bringing memorable and experiential events for potential and existing students can help in school branding. As we have evolved, it has become imperative for schools and colleges to host branding events that evoke interest, capture attention, and act as critical drives for enrollment.
If you are looking at solid arguments for hosting branding events at schools, you must consider the following benefits:
- Increase school visibility
- Garner prestige and credibility
- Generate pre-enrollment signups
- Establish a relationship
- Increase enrollments
- Attendees become brand ambassadors
- Leverage the event for digital marketing
We’ve gathered event ideas for schools and colleges; they are as follows:
- Host campus tours
- Scavenger hunts
- Charity events
- Recruit popular speakers
- Alumni podcasts
- Campus sporting events
- Film festivals
- Game tournaments
Target outreach students who will likely enroll and boost your event attendance rate. Ensure you target Gen Z; they feel strong connections to community engagement, social activism, impactful change, and purpose.
For example, Starfield Montessori School organized an event dedicated to parents where a panelist will discuss the modern-age challenges of raising kids in the digital age.
This event will help the school promote brand awareness, create interest among potential students, and increase enrollment.
Source: Starfield Montessori School
7. Showcase Faculty Expertise
Have you ever approached a faculty member to speak at your event or showcase their expertise? While it’s becoming more widely accepted, schools are building a reputation by showcasing faculty expertise.
- Faculty expertise showcase enhances branding by fostering schools’ academic prowess and expertise. This feature argues school branding by:
- Expertise exhibition – Showcase achievements, research, and accolades of the faculty members.
- Community building – Fosters a sense of belonging among students, parents, and alums.
- Differentiation – Set the school apart from the competitors by showcasing distinguished academic expertise.
- Inspiration – Inspire students and create a positive impact on the school
- Online presence – Increase school visibility and attracts a broader audience
For example, USF encourages faculty members to share videos on different topics to boost engagement.
8. Green Initiatives
Many students are adopting green initiatives as part of their climate change and sustainability goals. It allows the schools to establish a brand as being environmentally friendly. For eco-conscious people today, green initiatives have become increasingly important.
Here’s how you can make your school more sustainable and use green initiatives for branding:
- Active environment learning and sharing on social media
- Recycling as a craft exercise for students and faculty members
- Classroom composting to stop food wastage
- Creating green schoolyards and buildings
- Teaching environment literacy and stewardship
Green initiative has several advantages for school branding:
- Standing out in a competitive landscape
- Generating value for potential students
- Getting a higher price for an eco-friendly environment
- Building a win-win reputation
For example, the University of Reading has been marked as the 4th greenest university in the UK as they have adopted various green initiatives. This ranking will enhance the University’s brand visibility and foster a positive image.
Source: University of Reading
9. Showcase Student Success
Your school branding is more about sharing the experience and creating a story that engages potential students. And in today’s world, where digital marketing for universities has become imperative, you must stand out by showcasing your student’s remarkable success and achievement.
It will highlight the school’s identity, strengthen its brand name, and create a positive image in the community. When you share student success stories, it helps with branding:
- Boosts potential students’ morale
- Strengthen community ties
- Attract prospective students
- Becomes a social proof
- Instills a sense of pride & Credibility
Remember, student success stories are the lifeblood of your school branding strategy. It helps you create compelling narratives and showcase your school as prominent.
For example, Warwick University has shared honorary Warwick graduates and the success stories that have led them to their respective prestigious positions.
It will enable the university to strengthen its brand by showcasing the contributions and achievements of students to the world.
Source: Warwick University
10. Celebrate Traditions
Celebrating traditions serves as a strong branding tactic for schools. It infuses a sense of identity, pride, and continuity. Celebrating and acknowledging practices help you attract a wider audience, particularly international students.
Also, it helps your brand create a point of differentiation, as your school can stand out as a place for diversity and inclusion. Here’s how you can showcase traditions for branding:
- Showcase heritage and legacy
- Celebrate cultural identity
- Strengthen community bonding
- Create lasting alum engagement
- Rich source of storytelling
- Consistency and stability
- Highlighting cherished traditions act as a recruitment tool
Schools can identify target audiences for branding purposes through:
- Demographic data
- Psychographic traits
- Educational goals
- Parental preferences
- cultural backgrounds
- Learning needs & styles
- Alumni Engagement
- Competitor analysis
- Communication channels
To effectively utilize social media platforms for school branding, follow these steps:
- Define your brand voice and message
- Choose the right platform
- Create compelling content
- Engage and interact
- Showcase diversity and inclusion
- Promote school achievements
- Collaborate and network
- Utilize hashtags
- Maintain consistency
- Use storytelling
- Paid Ads
- Podcast and live webinars
Schools can maintain brand consistency across different marketing channels by outlining usage, color, schemes, typography, tone of voice, and visual elements for all marketing collateral and materials.
Now that you know why school branding matters, you must establish a brand that defines your differentiator and ensures consistency. It enables potential students to learn about your school and makes finding it more accessible.
Remember, create a school brand that resonates with your authentic values, mission, and goals. Branding strategy can help you set your school apart and catch the attention. Ensure you capture the spirit and develop an emotional connection between the students and the school.