Sunday, November 22, 2015

Developing a BrandED Strategy

Here is a reality check for everyone that does not believe in the value of branding in education.  Your brand is what stakeholders and others say about you as well as your district/school.  Social media has changed the landscape and broadened the concept of branding to education whether you like it or not. Your digital footprint is not only crafted by what you create and post, but also what other people and organizations create and post about you.   Just do a simple Google search and see for yourself. You might very well be surprised what’s out there in regards to you and your school/district.  

Now more than ever educators, leaders, schools, and districts need to begin to think about a brand strategy. This is essential to not only control the narrative but to also be proactive in order to deal with negative content that can tarnish an image while influencing the perception of key stakeholders. It is important to differentiate between a brand in the business sense and one in education. A brand in business is meant to sell. On the other hand, a brand in education is meant to build support, admiration, and respect for the honorable work you do each day for kids.  

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The foundation of a BrandED mindset is focusing on sharing valuable content related to the mission, vision, and values of your school/district or what you embrace as an educator.  It requires a focus on strategies and ideas that are being successfully implemented to positively impact student learning. Here are some specific reasons why a BrandED mindset matters:

  • Your brand will attract others to your work and that of your school. This can result in more qualified candidates applying for jobs, greater stakeholder support, or parents deciding to move to your district. It can also result in building a more vibrant learning network.
  • It promotes recognition of amazing work that takes place in schools each and every day.  With social media, anyone can now craft an accurate narrative of how our schools are preparing students for success.
  • A positive brand presence motivates and inspires your staff/co-workers as well as colleagues across the globe in terms of what is truly possible. Success is amplified in a way that others can then replicate it.  
  • Your brand tells stakeholders about your school DNA. From logos, mascots, tweets, and hashtags a positive brand presence helps you tell the real story
  • A positive BrandED presence clearly articulates to stakeholders what to expect from your district, school, or you as a professional.  This promise not only builds precious support but also invaluable relationships.
  • A clear BrandED strategy helps you stay focused on your mission, vision, and values related to your work to ensure the success of all students.
  • By reaching people at an emotional level, stronger relationships will be built with key stakeholders.  There is no better way to do this than consistently sharing ways that you are making a positive difference in the life of kids each day.

It is important to understand that a BrandED mindset is a natural part of being a digital leader. When you communicate consistently with social media and use it for public relations to tell your story, a brand presence will manifest itself. It will also form just by posting your own work, ideas, and thoughts on a variety of platforms. Whatever is the case keep these tips in mind to develop a mindset for a successful BrandED strategy:

  • Be consistent
  • Keep the message focused on work (school, district, your own) to provide value to stakeholders
  • Engage in two-way communication to build and strengthen relationships
  • Maintain a presence across a variety of platforms
  • Build around the logo, mascot, name, etc.
  • Review analytics and adapt when needed by embracing new tools
  • Focus on transparency through honesty and sharing accurate information
  • Monitor your brand presence using Google Alerts, Mention, and/or columns in Tweetdeck or Hootsuite

Developing a BrandED mindset and strategy in the digital age just makes plain sense. It begins and ends with the amazing work you and your staff are doing with students or to advance the profession of education. That's the hard part. The easy part consists of creating and then sharing content using a blend of traditional and new age (i.e. social media) tools. 

I am excited to have been able to expand on the topic of BrandED in my new book that I co-authored with Trish Rubin for Jossey-Bass.  Trish opened my eyes up to the concept of BrandED way back in 2009. Get your copy of BrandED today.


  1. Powerful messaging from my co-author ! A model of BrandEd Architecture that can be a unifying force in a leader's professional development and in his/her school's brand campaign to improve culture, performance and resourcing in our digital world. I'm looking forward to bringing our message and strategies of BrandEd to educators worldwide in our Wylie Jossey Bass book. Building from Chapter 7 in Digital Leadership is the next step since I met you on TV building your brand for NMHS.

  2. Trish and Eric:
    This is awesome stuff. I have never heard of a BrandEd mindset until now. It makes perfect sense for a school and/or district to market themselves to all potential stakeholders. Especially now, since school choice is upon us. Thanks for all of your insight and guidance.