Branding is one activity that falls under the larger umbrella of marketing. It’s important to have an overall marketing strategy. Branding is a hot topic though and lots of people ask me about it. So today I wanted to focus briefly just on branding for language schools and literacy programs. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Be clear about what programs you’re offering. If you focus on programs for adults, then be purposeful and decisive about it. Do not try to be all things to all people. Focus all your efforts on programs that fit within your niche. Find trusted colleagues who offer complementary programs so you can refer prospects to them who don’t fit in your niche. So if your specialty is a program for those 18-50 and you get an inquiry from someone looking for a youth program, have somewhere to refer them. That’s just good professional courtesy. Then, send them on their way and stay focussed on your niche. Being clear about who you are and what you do is the first step to marketing yourself successfully. From there, you can focus more on other activities, including branding.
Use your logo widely – If you have a logo, use it on all your marketing materials – not just the website or the brochures. Make sure it is on your business cards, your letterhead and any promotional materials you produce. People associate the logo with your activities , your style and your philosophy. Your logo is a visual, often pictorial image that represents who your organization is and what you do. This idea is very powerful for language and literacy programs where words may be a barrier to your clients! You don’t words on your logo. You can have them, but you don’t need them. Your logo becomes an imprint on the memory of those who see it. Use it widely and people will get to know your program better.
Be clear and consistent -You want to deliver the same message to your prospects with all of your marketing materials. It is important to keep the logo consistent over time and also to use it consistently. In my experience, programs that have one logo that they use on every piece of paper that leaves their office and every web page are usually very successful. This is because they are sending a message that they are reliable, trustworthy and that they’re here to stay.
Here are a few of my favorite online articles for branding. They’re directed towards business people and entrepreneurs, and what they have to say is also good for educational leaders who are responsible for promoting their programs within their communities or to the world.
Fundamentals of branding
How to position a company, product, service or brand
and a good articles on the failure of some marketing campaigns (and the resulting failure of the associated products and services):
Product and brand failures: a marketing perspective
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.