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How Schools Bring Their Unique Brands To Life

Posted by on August 29th, 2013
Posted in Blog, Independent Schools, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Copywriting, Nonprofit Design, Nonprofit Messaging   

Fall marks the beginning of admissions season—when independent schools compete for students who are the right fit for their communities. Admissions materials convey a school’s priorities and its personality. They make the first impression and serve as at-home reading materials for parents and students who are making crucial decisions about their family’s future.

Over the last several months, Mission Minded has been helping Crystal Springs Uplands School develop exciting new admissions materials that bring their brand—community, scholarship and unbounded spirit—to life. Their existing materials conveyed the school’s academic priorities, but didn’t emphasize the school’s unbounded spirit and tight-knit community strongly enough.

As one of their teachers says, “Crystal kids are fired up to be here.” The admissions team asked Mission Minded to create new tools that would help candidates feel that fired-up energy.

We developed a theme, “Where the student spirit thrives,” and backed it up with bold colors, active photos, and conversational key messages that engage the reader’s mind and emotions.

Mission Minded’s work encompassed research, theme creation, message development, design of the admissions brochure and collateral materials, photography, and coaching. Take a look.

A -CSUS_Admisions_GENERAL 1

The result? An admissions campaign that says, “Your student spirit will take flight here.”

So how can your school create materials that attract right-fit families? Here’s our four-point checklist:

1. Know yourself. Be clear on what kinds of unique educational experiences and outcomes your school offers. Just knowing you have a great school isn’t enough. You must also know how to articulate what makes you different and how that difference benefits students.

2. Be yourself. You probably already instill this advice in your students, and now’s the time to get comfortable being who you really are as a school. Saying “we’re just as good as those other schools” is selling yourself short. You’re different, probably by design. So embrace that. Be proud and bold about who you are so that families who believe what you believe can find you.

3. Promote yourself. If you can’t say in a few succinct sentences what kind of school you are and why, then we guarantee your reputation is not as strong as it could be. Repeating what your school is all about in written, print, and electronic media is a must. It’s not enough that your school community knows what makes you special. Everyone, from the head of school to the receptionist to every volunteer, needs the ability to express what’s so special about you.

4. Express yourself. Every element of your admissions materials—including the mailing label, color palette, copy, and envelope design—needs to reflect your unique personality. Big, national chain stores provide guidelines for the music and lighting that should be used in their franchises, because they know what you now know: Everything you do, everything you say, and how you look all send powerful signals about the kind of school you really are.  So make sure the signals you send are consistent with the image you want.

Learn more about marketing your independent school here.


Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.

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