Donovan Group Insights

Summer is the Ideal Time to Refresh Your School Brand

What was the last time your school got a brand refresh? With so many students, teachers and families to serve throughout the academic year, school branding is often seen as less important by comparison. Your school brand is important—you just have to find the ideal time to fine-tune it.

Most schools are out of session right now, which means your team has more free time they can allocate to everything currently sitting on the back burner, including the school’s branding efforts. Embrace the opportunity to refresh your brand over the summer, so you can welcome back students with a school identity that’s even more refined than last year.

School values

Making your school’s values known is a small yet powerful strategy for honing its brand identity. Values guide everything you say and do, and they establish expectations for everyone in the school community. Yet, many people (including staff) forget what those values are. Or, at the very least, they don’t think about the school’s values on a day-to-day basis.

Think back to when you first posted the school’s values on its website. Your team took the time to consider which values accurately reflect your school community. Then, you worked with a web designer to display those values beautifully on the website. But after a while, values begin to gather dust. They become an afterthought—something that only gets brought up in times of crisis or monumental change. Many don’t even know where to find a school’s core values!

As your school undergoes a brand refresh, take some time to revisit those core values and assess whether they still ring true for your school community. Do they accurately describe what your students, teachers, staff and families stand for? Or have they become a symbol of what your community used to be? Core values are never set in stone. You can change them at any time, whenever it feels right.

Summer is a great time to reassess your school’s values. By revisiting them now, you are ensuring they’re up to date just in time to welcome new students, families and staff members in the fall. Every school year is a new beginning; start the year off right with refreshed values already in place.

Mission statement

Much like core values, the mission statement reflects your school’s brand identity. It also tends to change over time. This means that once a year—ideally during the summer—your school would benefit greatly from reviewing the mission statement that’s currently posted on its website. Doing so creates a cohesive, up-to-date school brand that gets your whole community rowing together in the same direction.

While reviewing your mission statement, there are a few questions to raise with your team: is this mission ongoing, or have we accomplished it? Do we want to aim higher? Should our community focus their efforts on something else? Revising your school’s mission statement will ensure it’s consistent with your audience’s current priorities, as well as create room to keep reaching higher and achieving more in the future.

A mission statement is something that can be changed at any time. You don’t have to wait until your current mission is “complete” before moving on to a new one. It’s okay if the mission statement doesn’t align with your priorities anymore. It’s okay to make your mission less ambitious and more realistic. Think about what your community wants to achieve in the coming years, then tailor the school’s mission statement to reflect that.

After revising your school’s mission statement, make sure the updated version appears across all forms of communication—webpages, social media, print materials, flyers and so on. You might even consider placing the mission statement where it wasn’t before, such as stationery or even the main lobby of your school. The goal is to make your mission statement well-known and your brand identity ubiquitous across all platforms.

Written tone and style

How you communicate speaks volumes about your school’s brand. Tone and style convey so much more beyond the meanings of words themselves. The words you choose greatly influence how audiences view your school and the relationships you have with students, staff, families and community members. For these reasons and more, it’s worth considering not just what your message is, but how you relay it to the school community.

Language is something your school can finetune over time. You might realize that a certain way of speaking worked well in the past, but not with the people who currently make up your audience. For instance, a school might consistently use a professional tone in order to sound credible and command authority. When in reality, their audience might prefer a tone that’s professional but also friendly and conversational. Learn how your audience wants to be communicated with, then adjust your tone and style accordingly.

Before making any changes, you’ll first want to understand which communication style resonates the best with your audience. This is where feedback surveys can prove to be a very helpful resource. They collect people’s honest opinions about how they feel when they read or hear a message from your school. You can then use that feedback to transform your communications into a style that’s both well received and an accurate reflection of your school’s identity—all in time for the new school year to begin.

Colors, logo and mascot

Your school’s colors, logo and mascot don’t need to change every year. After all, keeping these elements consistent is what makes your school unique and helps it stand out from the others. However, it’s important to be aware of how exactly your school is using its colors, logo and mascot. There’s a very good chance you could leverage these brand-defining components in so many other ways!

Branding is more than words; it’s visuals, too. Everywhere your audience turns, they should see your school’s brand. Whether they’re looking at a webpage, poster, email, letter or social media post, it should be immediately clear to the viewer that your school created it. Allow these elements to exist in your communications, and your school’s brand identity will become more cohesive and omniscient.

Do a broad sweep over your school’s communications, from signage to e-newsletters to digital flyers. Are your colors and logo present? Is it easy to tell the content was created by your school? If the answer is no, look for ways to incorporate these visual components of your school’s identity. You can even go beyond written communications to infuse murals and school merchandise with your colors, logo and mascot. The more these elements are present, the stronger your school’s brand will be.

Head into the fall with a refreshed brand

Most school brands could use a refresh every once in a while. It’s hard to make that refresh happen during the academic year when the needs of students, staff and families come before everything else. During the summer months, less is happening at school, which means your team members get to devote their time to the one thing that’s ever-present yet often an afterthought: your school’s brand identity.

Tackle that brand refresh now, so you can kick off the new school year strong!

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