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Insights and Trends in Student Enrollment

How To Build A Strong Charter School Brand

Posted August 20, 2018

The hyper-connected age we’re living in means there’s more and more information available every day. And that’s wonderful news for families. It’s now easier than ever for them to research on their own, discover innovative new schools, and self-serve. During the recruiting cycle, families are turning to a myriad of sources for information, including websites but also Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And they’re forming opinions – sometimes making snap judgements – about what they see.

That’s where branding comes in. Branding is about taking proactive, strategic steps to present your school in the best possible light. It’s about controlling that first impression, which is one key stage of the whole parent experience. And when done effectively, branding can shape what families think about your school – and persuade them it’s the best choice for their child.

Matt Cheuvront, Owner & CEO of Proof Branding, has worked with a host of nationwide leading charter school brands in the past. Below, he’s shared with us his top 3 lessons that any school can follow to build their own strong charter school brand.

1. Ask yourself, why does my story matter?

A brand — your brand — is not a logo. It’s not a mission statement. It’s not a website. All of those things are extensions of something much bigger — your holistic and evolving narrative.

Your school’s story is both:

  • what you tell
  • what your teachers, staff, students, parents, funders, legislators, and community members believe

By getting to the heart of what you do, who it’s for, and why you exist, your school has the power to combat and champion the often uncomfortable stumbling blocks that get in the way of passion and purpose. With a strong brand and a well-articulated story, you’re well-equipped to turn obstacles into opportunities.

Ask yourself this: Why does our school exist?

It’s a bold question but an important one for you and your team to articulate out loud:

  • Write it down and have the members of your team do the same.
  • Where do you find synergy?
  • Where is there a disconnect?
  • What work needs to be done to establish consistency in the “soul” of your brand?

By getting to the heart of what you do, who it’s for, and why you exist, your school has the power to combat and champion the often uncomfortable stumbling blocks that get in the way of passion and purpose. With a strong brand and a well-articulated story, you’re well-equipped to turn obstacles into opportunities.

2. Don’t focus on everything at once.

Now, take a look at your current situation. Conduct a self-audit by answering these questions:

  • What is your biggest challenge?
  • What hurdles are you working to overcome?
  • What’s the biggest priority right now? Note: you can only have one “biggest priority.” Is it to enhance enrollment? Bolster recruitment of teachers and staff? Increase fundraising efforts?

A common issue with charter schools is that they’re often dealing with a variety of challenges and don’t know where to start. As with anything, you can’t conquer it all in a day. Focus on your single most important priority and identify your target audience for that challenge.

Simply having a more focused approach goes a long way. If you start by identifying why you do what you do, who your most important (current) target audience is, and what your most pressing challenge is, you can build a strong message that produces results.

3. Define your why, what, and how.

I could tell you countless stories of how compelling stories have boosted charter school brands around the country. In every case, there’s been a clearly defined why, what, and who. The value of your well-defined, well-told story is a primary contributing factor to success in your quest for more fundraising dollars, better talent, and increased enrollment.Families, teachers, funders, and community members long for a story that’s genuine, appealing, and, maybe most importantly, relatable. Wherever your current struggles are centered, the time it takes to investigate your branding efforts pales in comparison to the time you’ll gain to focus on what’s important — your students and their futures, and your school’s future as a force for positive change in the community.

Matt Cheuvront is the Owner & CEO of Proof Branding. He is also the author of Build A Strong Charter School Brand. Matt has worked extensively with charter schools nationwide and has spoken on the topic of Charter School Branding at over a dozen conferences nationwide.

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