Three Ways a Rebrand Will Revive High School Spirit

Branding has an influence on nearly every aspect of our lives. People no longer buy an athletic shoe because it wears the longest. They buy it because it is a Nike product. They don’t drive a car simply because it is rated as the most reliable. They buy it because it reflects their values and lifestyle. And, they don’t send their children to a particular high school just because it is the closest to their home, despite district boundaries and regulations. They do it because the quality of the instruction and the values being taught meet the standards they demand for their children.

How do administrators make their high school the one parents pick? First, make a difference. Second, make it known by rebranding.

While many high schools have set the pace for high-quality learning, often the brands for the very same schools have lagged far behind the times. Brands are fluid and must be nurtured and developed in order to accurately reflect the vision and values of a leading-edge education. Yet, many administrators don’t realize how much branding influences the decisions of parents, or how to utilize rebranding to communicate their school’s distinctive differences and energize their community.

Here are three ways a rebrand will renew an aging high school spirit:

One: Produce a consistent and recognizable brand

Your brand is more than a logo and tagline. It is the collective expression of your school’s history and goals for the future. It is personality. It is character. It is ideals and values. Your brand communicates all of the above to students, families, alumni, educators and the greater community. Think of it as your brand voice, and that it speaks through the various brand elements.

Your logo’s design, its color palette, your tagline’s typeface, along with your signage, marketing tools, website, school and athletic team uniforms, even the T-shirts you sell to the public — every item upon which your brand is displayed is a different element of your brand. As your brand’s voice, they should always be clear. And that means consistent.

Having one logo and typeface for the school signage and a different one for the football team and a third for mailings dilutes your message and dulls the community’s ability to instantly recognize your brand. Rebranding will coordinate all of these brand elements and produce one consistent expression, regulated by precise, written guidelines that will ensure your brand is clear and eloquent.

Brand guidelines are extremely detailed and cover every aspect of your brand’s use, from the size and placement of the logo in print advertisements, to the proper amount of clear space around your symbol. They are rules and responsibilities spelled out clearly for use internally and externally. Once assembled, identity and style guides are disseminated in hard copy and electronically, often with versions designated specifically for the media or external sources.

Your specific brand guidelines guarantee a consistent voice across all channels to set your brand apart and create an enduring, recognizable connection with everyone you serve.

Two: Highlight distinctive strengths or achievements

Is your high school affiliated with a particular religion or belief system? Is it a science or mathematics magnet school? Is it a preparatory school for a particular college? Does its history date back 100 years? Is it the newest, most tech-savvy in the state? What sets your school apart — and does your brand reflect these distinctions?

A brand should incorporate more than a school’s name and its colors. From the logo design, to the type font, to using a recognizable school slogan or motto, or a tagline that is new and pushes the traditional envelope, your brand should underscore your uniqueness. Your school has qualities that no other school has, and your brand should convey that point to the public over and over, but it won’t if your brand is fragmented, diluted or hidden.

History can be reflected in a coat of arms or crest that evokes a past, yet tweaked with modern elements to reflect a progressive future. Lettering can be arranged to peak in the middle to identify a mountainous locale, or another identifiable characteristic such as a style of architecture indicative of the region. Is there a particular athletic or academic legacy associated with your school, or a story behind the person or area for which it is named? Those factors can become the foundation of a long-lasting brand.

Decide what you want people to think about when they see your brand, and give them a brand they won’t forget.

Three: Strike up the bandwagon

When a person sees your school’s brand, they should sense pride. They should be impressed. Excitement and enthusiasm create advocates of your school now and long into the future. Your school should be the one parents want to pick, kids want to attend and alumni want to support. Your brand is the key to that kind of a relationship.

Rebranding can refresh a school spirit that has gone stale and sharpen an image that has become outdated. It can scoop up a brand that has been fumbled by years of inconsistent usage and carry it to the end zone. And, it can get people cheering every step of the way, from recruitment to graduation and all the reunions that follow.

A community will talk about its high schools. Sometimes the comments are good. Sometimes they aren’t. When you are in a room of fellow administrators and educators, what do people say about your school? Is it what you want to hear?

Maybe it’s time to clear your brand’s voice and really make a statement.

Read how Daake created a bold brand identity for Skutt Catholic High School.

About Daake

We are brand design experts who deliver transformative ideas to the nation’s marketing professionals and CEOs as they seek guidance, clarity and excitement for their brand.

We would love to hear more about what you have in mind for your next project. Call Greg Daake at 402.933.1094.

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