Making school into an iconic brand

Embodying the soul in the school

Author: Ms. Sonia Manchanda

If school infrastructure is the body, Brand is the soul of a school.

Brand is not static, Brand is live.

The School Brand is a manifestation of the aspirations, of the parents, the children and the teachers.

To develop a Live Brand, we need to consciously do what is called Brand Design.

The Brand Image is no longer created through advertising but through shared experiences.

Why not a brand designed by students of the school everyday

Is a school just good education infrastructure or is it a construct, an idea that is shaped consciously, a unique learning experience? This construct i.e. the School Brand is not a static entity but an alive and moving picture. The perception of this construct is shaped in present in here and now by the many lives touched.

If school infrastructure is the body, Brand is the soul of a school.

I am Brand. Brand is me!

The School Brand is a manifestation of the aspirations, of the parents, the children and the teachers. A mirror to their future, an ever changing reflection and exchange between the Brand and the Believer.

Brand is a narrative, spirit, belief, faith, relationship, behaviours, journeys, yearnings, aspirations. Brand is a living, breathing, consciously created, constantly evolving construct!

To develop a Live Brand, we need to consciously do what is called Brand Design. Brand Design is the grand design of your brand story. That will be touched and experienced by all concerned. The Brand Design of your Live Brand starts from the Brand Purpose.

Brand Purpose

Purpose is about a human centered approach in answering, “Why do we exist and what unique human problem exists in which we spotted an opportunity?”This is a human centered approach to integrate and be relevant while reframing problems as opportunities.

Brand Strategy

What will be our overall strategy to fully share and fulfill the Brand Purpose.Communicating ONE message, moving in ONE direction, with integrity in our words and deeds. For this, the culture, rituals, values, symbols need to be imaginatively coded. If the Brand were a person, how old would she be, what would she wear, how would she speak will be brand strategy.After soul and body comes the mind of the brand i.e. the Brand culture and personality. Without this your brand can feel like a split personality. And every new teacher, student, incident will be shaping the spirit and culture of your School Brand.

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Brand Experience

The Brand Image is no longer created through advertising but through shared experiences. Thanks to the online space, the word spreads faster.Brand experience is living the purpose.Experience manifests in every touch point, every interaction and exchange. That has to be designed to have a unique feeling and response.This is where The Brand Identity, Positioning, Mood, Voice, the Physical Experience, the Online Experience, even the way you teach can and must reflect the difference you make and touchingly remind the recipient of your Brand’s purpose and translates in into experiences with integrity and imagination.

Brand Image is created when the Brand Purpose, is translated into strategy, identity, communication and experience. In a competitive space, if purpose is not translated into experience, for lack of connection a Brand can lose out. However,  Iconic Brands are ones that are driven by purpose and have found ever new yet unobtrusive ways to make connections, create fresh stories, be different, experiential and alive!

 Categories of Iconic Brands

  • Sensory Branding: Using the senses to relate at a subconscious level

What about a ‘smell’, a ‘sound’, a ‘colour’ – a sensorial marker for your school! Go one step further – what about branded pencils that have a hint of citrus oil to enhance happiness.

  • Sonic Branding: Capturing and conveying the essence of a brand in a sound

Why not a MOGO for your Brand.A musical Logo that has the essence of your brand in a sound.

  • Cultural Branding: Leapfrog the norms to create new ideologies that are relevant to the category.

How about going against the grain, moving aside from the herd. In our work – when everyone in India was going a little crazy for International Schools, we created a bold new brand – the School of India. A school with Indian culture and values, global standards.An idea from India for the world.

  • Humanised Branding: Create an avatar that represents all the qualities and traits that you want your brand to have.

A school is a journey for the child – we represented that journey as little boy and a girl going through the school, sharing moments of play, reflection and joy, in a School called Juniors’ Journey.

  • Dynamic Branding: Where the entire experience in every moment experienced and expressed is unique.

Why not a dynamic brand, like google – that is expressive. Why not a brand designed by students of the school everyday! Given evolving technologies, so much is now possible.

  • Content Branding / Branded content: shapes a continuous conversation

Videos that highlight the problems of the school’s neighbourhood and solutions possible, created by the children of your school. But that’s relevant only if the purpose of your brand is to nurture creative action.

In a nutshell, Live Brand is a compelling new strategy where once you have been through a Brand Design process, you find new ways to humanize the Brand.

About the Author

Ms. Sonia Manchanda

Founding Partner, Spread Education and Consulting

Ms. Manchanda is a Design Strategist and Graphic Designer, with 20+ years’ experience, building creative organisations; training and leading interdisciplinary projects teams on massive transformational projects nationally and globally. Her work involves designing systems, creating sustainable brands and unique experiences besides building capability and capacity by designing learning systems. She is a Founding Partner at Spread Design + Learning. Where, her mission is to spread design as a way of thinking and doing things. From source, which involves children to leadership, which involves Presidents of International Organisations! She is a graduate of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. She is an appointed member of the India Design Council, is on the CII Design Council and is a Governing Council Member of Forge, an incubator in Coimbatore. She is also a trustee at Nrityagram, the only ‘dance village’ in the world. Her Open Innovation and Design Strategy Project Dream: in has been awarded as a global game changer by Metropolis Magazine, USA. In her spare time, she is a naturalist and an urban farmer, growing and cooking up yummy stuff in her farm where the Spread studio is also based.

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