When a school is ready to develop its brand, one of the first questions many ask themselves is: Can we do this ourselves?

The answer is no for 90% of you.*

Why? Because you need a certain perspective — one that is difficult to have from an internal position. From this vantage point, you can’t be expected to see the big picture of how your school fits into the cosmos of competition, or how it’s perceived in the market’s eye. You can’t be expected to see how to attract not every family, but the right families. (And don’t say “all families are right for us.” If you do, this is proof positive that you’re in the 90%.) You can’t be expected to see how to motivate donors to choose you, or how to motivate and engage alumnae/i.

For all schools, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. A head of school asked us in a presentation to his committee, “What are you going to tell me that I don’t already know about our school?” “Nothing,” we replied. “But we’re going to help you see your strengths more concisely and articulate them so that they are clear and memorable to internal and external communities.”

Uncovering a brand is a skill best left to professionals who do it every day for many clients over many years. From their external perspective and experience, they see where the gaps are, where the opportunities are, where marketing efforts are working and where they are not.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, says the same thing in his own way in this video from Creative Mornings.


A great exception is the Westminster School viewbook we featured in an SSATB presentation.

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