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Why Training Your People to be On-brand is One of the Smartest Things You Can Do

Posted by Elana Stern on September 29th, 2021
Posted in Blog, Independent Schools, Nonprofit Branding, Nonprofit Training   

If the pandemic has taught us anything (and surely it has illuminated a lot), it’s to take stock of what’s really important. To strip away the excess and lean into what we value most.

For many individuals, it’s a stark reminder of the value of loved ones and community, of kindness and empathy, of equity and support for one another, of our connection to nature and that which sustains us—of our humanity.

But what has the pandemic taught brands

Well, as we often think of brands as living organisms made up of people aligned around a shared mission, it means much the same. Brands, too, have learned to highly regard their people and act on what matters most—their core values.

At Mission Minded, everything we do starts with just that. We help our clients define their authentic core values, and build brand strategies and strategic plans from that foundation. And we don’t just teach it, we live it by organizing everything we do here at Mission Minded around our own values.

So, after over 18 months of pandemic life, it’s time for your organization to sharpen your focus on what matters most. Strategic leaders are looking at their brand strategy—focusing on their core values—to realign their organizations and their people.

To this end, one of our school clients—Flint Hill School in the metro-DC area—recently reached out to us for help. 

We completed a comprehensive rebrand together—including brand and message strategy, visual identity, admissions campaign, and website—during the height of the pandemic with the brand launch in the fall of 2020 (while faculty, staff, students, and families were negotiating our “new normal”). And while the new brand was enthusiastically supported—differentiating the school as innovators (while others were struggling with remote learning) and being featured at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) conference as a shining example of school rebranding—the intended timing of the rollout came while the school community’s bandwidth was understandably stretched thin. Now, a year later, it was time to take stock and realign the school with their new brand strategy.

As the Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement, Meredith Cook VanDuyne, explained:

“We don’t want to look back three years from now at our rebranding work and wish we had invested in training our people.” 

Here are three reasons why this is one of the smartest approaches you can take:

  1. Make the most of your investment. As a nonprofit, foundation, or school, you’ve invested significant funds in your (re)branding effort. To not see it through—by educating and training your staff—simply would be financially irresponsible.
  2. A brand starts from within. Every community member is a potential brand ambassador, and it’s every staff member’s responsibility to live the brand (not just the head of the organization or the marketing communications folks).
  3. Your brand is not your logo. Your brand is your reputation in the mind of your audience. A well-managed brand creates affinity for your organization or school. It brings people together internally and attracts program participants, prospects, and donors. It aligns your people toward common goals, invigorates your mission, propels your vision, and underscores who you are—your core values.

Together with Flint Hill School, we put together a three-tiered training plan—including training ‘the trainers’ (the leadership team), faculty and staff, and the Board of Trustees. With live group training, interactive exercises, and supporting recorded tutorials, our focus is helping Flint Hill School align on their brand strategy and center on what matters most—their people and their core values

Curious about whether rebranding, brand training, or coaching is right for you? Contact us to learn more.


A proven marcom professional with two decades of experience, Elana brings a wealth of expertise. With a background on agency and client sides, Elana held executive leadership roles for leading nonprofits as well as helming brand and digital initiatives for clients across industries. With a passion for branding and mission-driven work, she contributes pro-bono branding and training for several arts organizations and was a member of her local AIGA board. Elana has served in-house for Associated Press, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Philadelphia Zoo, JCC Manhattan, Please Touch Museum, and several creative agencies. Her previous clients include Anguilla Tourist Board, Barnes Foundation, JEVS Human Services, Moore College, National Philanthropic Trust, among others. You can read more about Elana here.