Branding tips for your independent school

Is your branding in need of an overhaul? Andrew Dark, co-founder of Custom Planet, shares how independent schools can boost their profile among prospective parents by re-branding their marketing materials and uniform

In order to thrive in an open market an independent school must have a unique brand identity. A distinctive brand can make a huge difference in terms of how your school is perceived externally and is one of the most effective ways to get the attention of prospective parents. In this article I’ll share three tips for creating a logo, promotional materials and uniform which will help your school to stand out and attract new students.

Be true to your brand — and be consistent

The most effective branding is almost always centred on a unique selling point (USP). So, if you’re looking to revitalise your brand, start by asking yourself what makes your school stand out. Is it your excellent sports facilities? Are you renowned for your music, dance and drama department? Identify your biggest draw and then focus on communicating that through your branding.

If you need help to figure out which aspects of your school to emphasise in your branding it may help to conduct a survey of current parents, asking them to identify what it was that drew them to your institution in the first place.

Re-design your logo according to your USP

Your logo is the centrepiece of your brand and will be featured on everything from your uniform to your website and letterheads – it’s essential that this communicates the identity of your school effectively and it should emphasise your USPs in a clear, immediate way.

You might achieve this by including your motto, or by adding details to your logo to symbolise your educational specialism. If you pride yourself on a long history be sure to include a nod to this – perhaps by including the date your school was founded. It’s also a nice touch to include a symbolic illustration in your logo, such as a distinctive detail from a statue or nearby landmark, for example.

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If you’re not sure your logo is working ask yourself whether someone would be able to tell you what sort of school you run just by looking at this logo. If the answer is, ‘Yes!’ then you’re on the right track.

Re-brand your uniform

Whenever your students are seen wearing your uniform in public they become ambassadors for your school so, when redesigning a uniform, you need to ensure that your logo, school colours and the style of clothing are an accurate reflection of your brand.

The logo should be prominent across all uniforms, including sports kit and any other secondary uniforms. Make sure the colours you choose for your logo complement your uniform; for instance, if you plan to have dark green blazers, there’s no point basing your logo around this colour as it won’t stand out. Once you’ve designed your logo I would always recommend that this is embroidered onto the fabric, rather than heat-transferred; this adds a real air of prestige to your uniform and it’ll stand up to frequent wear and washing better, too.

Many independent schools are built on a rich heritage of tradition so, if your institution is already well-established, beware of making any drastic changes to your uniform. For instance, if you’ve had the same signature school colours for years it’s probably not going to strengthen your reputation if you suddenly swap these for something completely different. Instead, give your uniform a new lease of life by choosing a slightly more modern style, perhaps with a new tie, or a skirt in a more contemporary cut.

If you want to strengthen your school’s branding understanding the unique identity of your institution is key. Once you know this, you can create a distinctive logo and design a uniform which is consistent with your brand.

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