How to Build a Brand for Your Education Company: Podcast Episode #4
Are there brands that you buy from over others, even if it costs more? Or maybe you go out of your way to buy, like you go to an in-person store versus going online. That's the power of branding. And I know for myself I buy Toms shoes every summer and part of that is the branding. I like the mission behind them. And if you agree with this, you're not alone. This is actually becoming even more popular with the younger generations that people are valuing brands and their values and that is contributing to them buying and buying repeatedly. So this is something that you want to think about for your education company.
Branding is even more important in education because whether it's an individual parent that's buying something for their children that's related to helping their education, or if you're selling into a school or university where there's a committee involved and lots of people that are going to be weighing in, your brand and what you stand for impacts the trust and the reputation that people have for your company. And those are incredibly important and those will help your sales process.
But a brand is not something that you turn on in one day, it's something that you build on over time. That's why you want to be incorporating branding and thinking about it as you're developing your foundational marketing strategies. So let's talk about the elements of a brand, and then we'll get into how you to build a brand for your company.
When you think of a brand and you see a brand, you experience a brand, some of the things that relate to them are the name, the name of your company, your logo, the colors, the way that you talk about your company. If it's something that people experience in person, like what is the store, what does the location look like? It even relates to the people that they interact with. Your customer service team, your sales team, those all relate to your brand. How you talk about your company, what are some of the key points that you are sharing? Creating this brand also impacts other things that surround your marketing, like your partners. Maybe you collaborate with other companies and what you're providing. Thinking about what your brand stands for should be a filter for what partners you bring in to work with you. Or pricing. Are you a premium high-value brand or are you not? That will inform your pricing. Those are things to think about and incorporate into your business that will help you develop a brand.
Let's get a little bit more specific about how to build a brand for your company, especially when you're starting out. There are a number of things that will help you in thinking through what your brand stands for and then also having something that you could share with other people. Because especially in marketing and as you grow, you're going to be bringing on other employees or agencies, vendors. And you want everyone to be on board with understanding what your brand is so that they're communicating that out for you as well.
One thing to start out with is putting together a brand platform and that is an exercise and workshops that go into really getting at what is your brand vision? What is your brand promise? How are you making a difference for people in the world, in their lives? How are you contributing what goes into what your brand stands for and that's something that should be a sentence or two that you are writing down on the document so that it could be shared with everyone that's working on your marketing.
The other thing is thinking about your brand name and what you want your brand to be for the long term. So do you have a brand and then you're going to be creating other products under it? For example, Google, they have the search engine, but they also have Google Classroom and Google Drive and all that. You want to be thinking about how you want your brand name represented as you grow and then think about international. There are some disaster stories of brands coming up with a name and then they're launching into another country and then they find out that in that language their brand name is something that is offensive or doesn't make sense.
Those are things that you want to be thinking about and then you should work with a designer to put together brand guidelines. This is a PDF that puts everything in one place: your brand platform, your vision, your brand promise, some of your key messages, your logo, the colors that you want to be using, the imagery, your language. This is a document that you could be giving out to everyone that's helping you.
Because the main thing with all of this with branding is consistency. You want to be auditing everything and everyone who is interacting with your customers, from your website, your emails to social media to customer service to mailers—all those contribute to your brand. And the more consistent you are and professional you are in the way that you are representing your company the easier it will be for you to build a brand so that people are recognizing you when they see it.
Another thing you could do to build your brand once all that is established is to show that you're an expert in this area and this is especially important in the education market. This comes through developing content (content marketing). Look at publishing a blog, or hopefully, there's someone on your team who can be seen as an expert and a thought leader for whatever your business provides and they can speak at events or conferences. You could run your own events, your own webinars, try to get quoted in PR or featured in the press so you want to be communicating your brand externally through experts on your team.
Your brand is something that is hard to measure, much harder than if you're running online ads. You don't have a dashboard that you could go into every day and see how many clicks and conversions you're getting but it is something that is built over the long term and something that you should be looking at and there are some ways that you could do it.
The easiest way to do that is by looking at your website activity so you could look at over time how much traffic is driving to your site and looking at your search terms, your organic search terms, and your paid search terms too. If you see that people are typing your name in to search then that means that more people over time are knowing what your company is and they're looking for it. And then as you grow there are ways that you could get much more complex with measuring your brand and your brand affinity. There are companies that will run surveys for you that will measure your awareness, the perception that people have of your brand, the sentiment that they have of your brand and compare it to competitors.
Branding is definitely something that is a long-term decision but I think you will be really glad in the long term that you took this time into developing your brand.