If you're not sure about any of these answers, you need to consider prioritising creating and clearly communicating your key messages. You need to bring together all you know about your school's vision, strengths and innovation to distil the key strengths of the school in four different ways as laid out in the ‘brand pyramid’ triangle below.
The first stage is to put together a team from around the school to do this – an external facilitator would probably help, but schools can also do this for themselves. An ideal team should involve senior managers, teachers, governors, parents and students.
Starting at the bottom of the pyramid you need to identify 10 to 20 bullet points that cover the things that your school is good at. At this stage, you must ignore negative thoughts! For example, the school may have had poor exam results but it might also be a very friendly, responsive community school with strong aspirations and new approaches to learning – attractive to many parents!
Then look at which of these make you unique. Which ones can be backed up by strong evidence or are your most important aspirations? You might settle on three, four or perhaps five bullet points. Read these back to the group and see if most people agree on them – and that no other school could claim to do the same. Don’t worry about trying again if one or more of them is rejected. These are your ‘Unique Selling Points’ (USPs) and need to be repeatedly referred to across all your communications.
Once you know the key points, use different words and phrases to get them across in a couple of sentences – the ‘elevator pitch’ mentioned at the start of the section. While you are looking to keep the overall messages short, there is no specific number of words to stick to!
Finally, think about a short ‘slogan’ that takes the most important part of the ‘elevator pitch’ into a few words.
If might take a couple of hours to reach an initial consensus – you might then want to reflect on this over a period of a few days, involving the wider school community. Having gone through this process with a number of organisations myself, the more people you can involve the better the result seems to be - and this is reflected in the greater support from people in the organisation to the success of the marketing activity.
For more details on the process and examples of key messages, read 'Marketing Your School' - the book of the website!