Friday, September 5, 2014

More to the Story

I am knee deep into the idea of branding.  I think I would really enjoy a 21st century marketing course!  Social media has changed the game in how marketing takes place and organizations are able to interact with people and vice versa.  It has also, in a dramatic fashion, leveled the playing field and allowed a new level of competition for the "little guy" if the right tools are used correctly and you are passionate about your product and/or service!  Branding is also a current hot topic for schools and reading about branding in business has become a favorite pass time (and blog topic) as I think about the school I want to lead.  I read this article The Power of Branding a couple days ago and enjoyed it finding myself nodding along with everything it had to say.  I also found that I had a number of points and elements included in my upcoming presentation.  I won't lie, it's nice to see others seeing and coming to similar conclusions!  The article really focused on the power of telling and getting the narrative of schools out their in all of the various ways that we communicate.

As I learn more about branding from the people that know it best in its current state, I'm working through two trains of thought.  The the culture of a campus, the unique experiences and ultimately the feeling about our schools are either directly linked in part (proportionately, I'm not even ready to venture there yet) with the narrative being told or they are vital pillars that give power for the story (as I write this my brain is trying to visually process those ideas and create a diagram).  I think both thoughts have merit and warrant more exploration and either train leads me to the fact that for the idea of branding, there is more to the story!

So Bernedette Jiwa writes this activity in a recent post entitled How Are You Creating Value:
"Try this.…pick one brand, cafe, app or store that you wouldn't want to live without and make a list of the reasons why. Now stand in your customer’s shoes and make that same list for whatever you sell, design, develop or serve."
My brain goes immediately to the Harry Potter series (agian, yes, I'm a nerd).  It is the intentionality and literary alchemy with which it was designed, it is the characters that I connect with,  it is the story being woven both in each individual book as well as the big picture, it is the vivid setting details that create mind pictures, it is the characters' experiences, it is the minute details of personality and physical traits, the visual images created both through the writing as well as the the movie series and the list could go on and on!

As I review the list my mind keeps coming back to a single word of "connection".  I want my campus to have a story with which our community can connect.  I want the unique experiences at Eagle Ridge to make learning fun relevant and outside of the classroom walls (physically & digitally).  These experiences should connect people, not necessarily to just Eagle Ridge but to each other as well.  I want the culture be one of creating connections of the learning kind, the global kind, the community kind, the personal kind.  Which in turn leaves our community with a feeling that Eagle Ridge is an amazing place they can't live without!

Schools are different than business.  Competition is not the same.  Families don't necessarily have the same level of choice when it comes to school, but the choices are growing each year.  I believe that our families and communities deserve schools that know what they are about and provide the greatest learning experiences to all students.  This is where the idea of branding has the greatest connection and application for school leadership!  We should desire to have a cohesive belief system about what we do, a positive culture in which we work and learn and a story that is compelling and families want to be a part of.  So, when thinking about our school's brand, let's take a moment to take Ms. Jiwa's challenge and step back and reflect.

What makes your school a place that our families can't live without?

Curiously yours



  1. Great post!! I really like the question at the end...certainly something we need to ask ourselves regularly. What sets us apart? If they didn't have to come here, would they? Outstanding thoughts....and your take on connections is spot on. Well done...thanks for including our article!!

  2. Thanks Joe! It's interesting you asked the question would they come if they didn't have to! I wrote about that question just a couple days ago. Reminded of some Dave Burgess and should be a driving question for us. Thanks again for reading!