3 Steps for Building an Awesome Brand #Culture by Erin Werra Erin Werra Shouting Stories How can you possibly juggle the demands of building a school brand along with all your other responsibilities? It’s risky to ignore your brand in today’s competitive landscape, and if you’ve been putting it on the backburner because it seems daunting, you’re probably overthinking it. At its most basic, school branding is about telling stories. The end goal is to capture the school’s culture, spirit, and achievements, and share them far and wide to inspire community involvement and support. If that sounds like a tall order, let’s break it down step-by-step to make the process more manageable. Easy as 1-2-3 1) Identify what makes you great Every school and district is different, so what’s your claim to fame? Some of the best ways to figure out the answer is to observe and talk to the students who are doing the important work of learning. Their discoveries, passions, and triumphs make up a huge part of your district’s story. If what you’re hearing and observing could be used by any other district, keep digging. Time spent in classrooms, cafeterias, auditoriums, and gymnasiums is key to discovering unique stories. It’s much easier to get excited about achievements when you’re witnessing them first-hand—getting a front-row seat to student achievement helps tell a compelling story for all those who don’t get the privilege. 2) Talk about it Once stories have been identified, start talking. Tell your stories fast, before someone else does and before your audience has a chance to move on. In the book The Power of Branding: Telling Your School’s Story, Joe Sanfelippo suggests boiling down your identity to a 15 second overview. What will you share in your elevator pitch? Other places to mine for story details include the district’s mission and purpose statements. If these could use a tune-up, now’s the time. Collaboration and planning make all the difference between a hasty newsletter and a well-developed brand. Involve parents’ side of the story, too—everyone’s input has value and adds dimension to the stories. Finally, make the process of sharing stories second nature. A little empowerment goes a long way to capturing the community’s hearts and minds. Luckily, transparency is easily mimicked and trickled-down through culture. 3) Share your story The next question, naturally, becomes how and where to share stories. Digital channels including your website and blog will provide some of the best ways to house and share content you create. Build an effective place to drive traffic and attract new staff and families. Consider incorporating video versions of your stories. One-third of all internet activity comes from video. Film events, interview kids, or just set up a camera during passing periods to score some extra background footage. The possibilities are endless, and if a picture’s worth a thousand words, imagine the power of video in your school branding toolbox. Social media is one of the strongest tools available in branding, but this doesn’t mean creating a few school-level accounts and hoping for the best. The secret of school branding is to share the love—empower everyone to share stories directly from their perspective. Provide training for teachers on how to make social work best for them. Some districts may even hand over the reins directly to student interns, but even if they’re not quite ready for prime time yet, give students a voice, too. Ask their advice and let them feel free to submit their achievements, creations, and moments of excitement for consideration in your social queue. Last, but not least, celebration is always the name of the game in branding. Are you shouting about student achievements enough? Pro tip: It’s impossible to over-celebrate, and too-loud doesn’t exist in the digital branding sphere. Listen to the master of school branding on living and breathing the #gocrickets brand: Now go write your story, shout your story, and keep celebrating! Follow-up resource: Why does branding matter, anyway? Let's take a look What School Choice Means for Edubranding. Erin Werra Shouting Stories Follow Erin Werra: .