Keep Your Promises
The word brand is both over-used and amorphous. The word is everywhere. I wished there was a better word for brand, one that not only describes what a brand is but also conveys the monumental importance of keeping the brand alive every day in every action of the organization to connect to the people who use the product or service. That's a lot to get in one word.
And then, as if by magic, I received a virtual introduction to Dr. Americus Reed, II, Wharton professor and researcher, founder and champion of "Identity Loyalty." Rob Norman of InspirEd School Marketers invited Dr. Reed to be a guest on Sparkcast, and a new marketing day dawned for me.
Dr. Reed brings new language and expands the concept of brand at an independent school. He says, "Identity Loyalty happens when a product (or in this case, a school) merges with who you are." Independent schools must focus on being uniquely themselves. Embrace the unique elements and promote them, but more importantly, they are the fabric of the school's existence. The brand that will invite Identity Loyalty must be front and center in admissions, academics, development, and athletics. In short, every aspect of the school.
When I speak with school leaders about rising attrition or lowered conversion rates, my first thought is, "Where did this school break its brand promise?" Or worse, do they know what their brand is?
A school's brand will resonate with some and not others. For the ones who embrace its brand, the school has fostered Identity Loyalty. Then, no other school will do for that family, as long as the school keeps its promises.