Building your private school brand
As educators and business owners we know that identity is important in bringing a group together. But forging that identity - and defining the values it represents - requires reflection and creativity.
In this section we uncover helpful tips and tricks from schools, businesses, and organizations to help guide your process. We can't wait to share these with you. Ready? Let's dive in!
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Choosing a name for your school is a great place to start because it is a piece of information you’ll need to have on basically every piece of paperwork you’re going to complete during this process. If your school is going to be affiliated with an already-established chain of schools that has some kind of standard naming convention, you’re a step ahead of the game. If you need to come up with your own school name from scratch, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
Does another school already exist with this name?
Coming up with a completely original name can be a challenge. It is not uncommon for schools in different states to sometimes use the same name. This may not be a problem, but you should check into copyright claims if you’re using a name that exists nationally (see below). Having two schools in the same state with the same name will almost certainly cause confusion.
In addition to a quick Google search, the following sites can be helpful to ensure there aren't other schools in your area that are using your intended name:
Are there any copyright concerns with any of the words/phrases included in your name?
This isn’t usually a problem, but if your desired name might potentially be confused in the marketplace with other existing companies or brands, you may want to get the advice of an attorney who specializes in intellectual property before finalizing your name. Many schools use the name of their founder in the school name, for example. In most cases that’s fine, but if your last name happens to be Kaplan, the folks at Kaplan Test Prep might reasonably get upset if you were to open under the name Kaplan Preparatory School.
Is a logical domain name available?
Your domain name is how you will be known and found on the Internet. Domain names are what defines your website address and email addresses (for example, our domain name is choosetwine.com). The domain name for your school needs to be easy to remember and ideally easy to type. If possible, it is best to keep it short and avoid using hyphens and underscores in the name.
It used to be the case that domains had to end in .com, .net, or .org. In recent years it has become possible to use hundreds of domain endings, making it much easier to find a domain name. If .com and .org are already taken for the domain you want, good alternative endings are .school, .education, .academy, .online or even .info.
Domain names are reserved through a Domain Registrar. There are dozens of registrars you might use, and typical cost for a domain name is anywhere from $8 to $40 per year, depending on the domain ending and the service you use. Common registrars that you can use for searching and reserving domain names include:
Note that many domain registrars offer additional services such as web hosting, email accounts, SSL certificates, etc. You don’t necessarily want to host your website or email with your domain registrar, and you don’t have to. It is common, for example, to register your name with GoDaddy, have Google for your email, and to use Twine for your website hosting and school management.
Need help navigating names and domains? Reach out to one of our experts for assistance!
If you’re considering starting a private school, you’ve probably put some thought into what is going to make your school stand out from the other options that are available in your community.
Core values and mission
Here are some things to think about when conceptualizing your private school:
Why would parents want to send their kids to my school?
What about our school makes us stand out from other options in our community?
How do we want to be perceived by our community?
What are the school’s core values?
What is the mission for our school?
The answers to these questions are going to set the tone for your school culture and will influence your recruitment of prospective students and staff. It is important to take the time to explore these ideas thoroughly. Ask friends and family for input, and be certain about what you’re setting out to do.
If you’re not sure how to come up with core values or need some inspiration, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges has a resource they provide to their public schools for thinking about and establishing core values. While the guide references public schools, the recommendations and processes they propose are useful for any school to consider.
Two other great resources for uncovering core values include:
CultureIQ has published a great guide to defining company values that is ideal if you are working with a team and want broad participation in the process
If you don’t have a team, or want to get clarity about your own purpose and direction, exploration of your personal core values can be a valuable exercise. Inc Magazine has published a straightforward 5-step guide to defining your personal core values.
Creating your school brand also includes considerations like your school mascot, colors, logo, letterhead and other visual materials that you’ll use to represent your school. Whether you create these items yourself, enlist the help of friends or family, or hire a graphic designer/artist is both a personal and financial decision. In all cases you’ll want to have these items for use when developing your website, and for advertisements and other documents you’ll produce over the coming months.
We’ve found that a great starting point for your visual brand is development of a logo or wordmark for your school. In addition to guiding you toward color choices, determining what you want in a logo will help you to think about how you want to present yourself: Serious or playful? Traditional or modern? Colorful or subdued? Once you have your logo and colors you
can adapt as needed for your letterhead, website, PowerPoint presentations, and other purposes.
We’ve had great success using design sites where you provide specifications and multiple designers have the opportunity to respond with ideas. This approach typically produces a wider array of choices at a lower cost than working with a single designer or design firm. Two good sites for this work include:
Once you’ve established the basic concepts surrounding your brand, writing and maintaining a school style guide is a worthwhile task that is going to help you have a consistent image. Think of a style guide as a handbook for your brand – it outlines how to use any of the visual materials you’ve developed in the previous steps: what colors, special fonts, or other visual standards you’ll want to impose so your brand has a consistent and professional presentation as you create websites and print documents.
Once you’ve come up with the ground rules for your brand’s visual identity, make sure you assemble them in a document and keep it handy – anything you produce will be checked against this document, and any designers or artists you work with along the way will want to see your style guide to make sure the work they are doing fits with what you’ve specified.
Style guides don’t need to be complex or flashy. As one example, you're welcome to download a copy of our Twine style guide.