As your trust grows, one major challenge is ensuring that your branding is consistent and effective, while at the same time celebrating individual schools and the things that make them unique. Your brand plays a key role in making your trust and schools stand out, making it clear what you stand for, and will help to attract parents, pupils and staff to your schools. Below we outline the principles of good branding and show you how you can change your vision into a brand.
Principles of good branding: dos and don'ts
- Use branding as a way of communicating your trust's core values, it's not an add-on
- Take your time and get it right: make sure your branding reflects your trust and schools accurately. This approach is far more cost-effective in the long run, because it means you won’t need to re-brand again in the future
- Involve the whole trust community. If staff and pupils feel you’re imposing a brand on them, they won’t be able to get behind it, and it won’t be effective
- Keep branding consistent across all your schools, but strike the balance so that their individuality can shine through
- Remember, what works for one of your schools won’t necessarily work for another
- Try to look like other MATs or imitate branding you've seen elsewhere – this won't work because it won't be specific to your trust
- Expect a quick, expensive re-brand to solve all your problems – the majority of branding can be done in-house (we explain how below)
- Hide your trust status, but don’t let it dominate your branding either
Turn your trust vision into a brand
Your trust's core vision or mission statement is central to your brand. Use it to come up with a main, consistent branding message that you use across all your schools.
Make sure this message is:
- Memorable and unique to your trust – the shorter the better!
- Broad enough to include all your schools (and any that might join in the future) but not so broad that it becomes vague or meaningless. For example: ‘improving every child’s life chances’, ‘striving for academic excellence’, or ‘nurturing through creativity’
- Clearly understood by all your staff
- On your trust and school websites
- Displayed outside and across your schools
This message should also impact the tone of voice you use when representing your trust (e.g. in letters to parents, job adverts or wording on websites). For example, if your message is academic or nurturing, your tone of voice should reflect this.
If you don't have a core vision or mission statement, find out how to develop and implement one in this article on The Key for School Leaders. To find out how to engage every staff member in your common vision and purpose, read this case study from STEP Academy Trust.
Agree on a consistent visual identity
- Create a strong visual brand identity across your MAT
- This doesn’t mean every school or school website has to look the same, but it'll make your trust’s style recognisable and professional
- Choose a few key visual features (in collaboration with your central team and school representatives), such as a:
- Palette of colours. For example 3 colours usually works well – where one is a primary colour and two are complementary secondary colours
- Style of logo (e.g. rounded edges, a block pattern on a white background)
- Use these visual features on websites, signs, uniforms, prospectuses and stationary across your trust to keep your schools 'on brand'
- Communicate these features to your school leaders to pass on to all staff for the purposes of letters to parents, and any visual elements around the school (e.g. signs, posters) – this helps your staff understand how to stay 'on brand' when creating resources
- You could also provide branded templates for letters and visual elements and give these to the staff in your schools
Have your own experiences to share on the subject of growing your trust? Contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.