To the Editor:
For many school administrators, brand-building is something the Campbell’s Soup Company does, not a school leader. And while the concept may sound like it belongs more in a sales-and-marketing meeting than a classroom, don’t tell that to the school leader who wants to raise the reputation of his or her school, attract and retain top-tier faculty, fill student capacity, or build an endowment.
Brands are about familiarity. They can own a place in our hearts and our minds. They can even instill pride. Schools must, as well. And so school leaders, you must ask: What is your school’s mission? What differentiates you, as a leader, from others? What inspires and motivates your faculty? What language(s) do you own? What promise do you make to your parents and your students? What keeps your alumni engaged, long after graduation day?
These are some of the questions every school—from elementary to higher education—needs to answer. Words like commitment, wisdom, honesty, integrity, and community are all great to live by, though hardly original. Every school needs to ask the question, “Who are we?” and then answer it with words the community can live by.
One great example of this is particularly close to my heart, as a father. The brand at son’s school is: “That They Be Good Men." This reflects everything the school is and does—in the classroom or on the athletic field. These are words on the walls and the website. Even more important, they reside in the hearts and minds of the faculty, administration, parents, and students.
Chief Executive Officer
Brand Initiatives Group
New York, N.Y.