Online school – how to set it up – Part 6

People’s perception of you and your online school is hard to change if you decide to rebrand. Not paying enough attention to branding ahead of times can be expensive and complicated. Here you’ll find tips to consider when you choose a name, logo, colors etc. so your brand stands out as a unique and impactful one and you position yourself on the market well.

Branding

Now, I can’t claim to be a branding or marketing expert but here I will give you my experiences of dealing with these issues over 35 years of running a business both physical and online. There are various expert guides on the Vedamo website to help you in this regard and I would advise you to consult those.

Branding is crucial

The essential point about branding is that it means people’s perception of you. When they hear your name what does that conjure up in their mind? You want them to think integrity, quality, value for money, and reliability for starters. A successful brand is one that gives an immediate warm glow when you hear it. When you get on a Boeing plane, you feel reassured. On the other end of the scale, when you hear McDonalds you know what you will get worldwide and many a person has been glad to see the golden arches when they have found the food strange. This is what you should be aiming for, that people have a clear awareness of who and what you are and that this perception is good.

Think about your name

Your name will be crucial and if it is an English school a reassuringly English name will help. Research indicates that a name in the first part of the alphabet ABC, will also help. If your own name doesn’t sound English and is also not at the top of the alphabet than maybe consider using a trade name that is. Of course, you need to research that the name is free and if it is, then you can use it.
But bear in mind that rebranding is difficult and expensive. Changing any aspect of your brand can be problematical so think deeply, be sure you know what you want to achieve.

Study what colours to use

The colours you use will be important, for instance if you want to show that students will have fun then orange is good. Blue should be used to denote seriousness and integrity. I went for orange and blue in a physical school I ran, it was very easy to see our sign and we got quite a few walk-in enquiries. Do some research on colours and make your decisions based on what you wish to achieve.

Another aspect is a logo. It is hard to think of a successful brand without a logo. So your colours go onto your logo, alongside your design. It could be eponymous, like Volkswagen, McDonalds or RollsRoyce, or a symbol like Mercedes or Chevrolet. You could link a slogan like Tesco’s “Every little helps” or Nike’s “Just do it”. Slogans are one aspect that can change, at least, although the longer their shelf-life the better. There are plenty of companies out there offering logos and slogans, often quite cheaply but maybe you can do better yourself. Again, do your research on this as once people have implanted your logo on their mind, it will be hard to change.

The true impact of your brand

Beyond these surface areas, though, is what your brand means to you. What do you wish to project? Because what you deliver is also your brand. The class of service you provide is your brand. All the things we spoke about in my last article “Setting up an online school part 5” about your positioning is also your brand. If people think of you as top class and expensive, that will impact on the customers you attract. If they think you are cheap and low quality that will also influence who you interest. Your brand is far more about what you deliver than anything else. You need to decide what you can truly deliver before deciding on your brand.

Should you copy a brand you admire?

I doubt if it is a good idea to try and copy someone else even if you strongly appreciate them. Yes, look at what they did, how they did it, and why. Incorporate those principles, by all means, but do it your way. People have a different idea of the brands McDonalds and BurgerKing even though what they offer is very similar. As I have emphasized all the way through this series, differentiation is key to everything but especially branding. You have to feel different to your competition.

Finally: putting it all together

Once you have done it all, then incorporate your colours, your logo, and a slogan if you have come up with one, into all your materials. Your website, any ancillary websites like social media, your advertising, business cards, letterheads, and if you have a physical office, into the colours used in there. If you are using Vedamo, and I strongly advise that you do, they will help you incorporate your brand look into their systems so you have a bespoke teaching platform and Learning Management System (LMS) all giving that quality feeling of your own unique brand.

Once you have completed all the steps to now, and you are ready to brand, then the starting post is in sight. You are so close to starting that you can feel the excitement mounting.

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Gus Worth is a highly experienced writer and educator having worked in universities for nearly 20 years and being first published at the age of six. Currently in the English department of the American University in Bulgaria, he also writes extensively for the web and in print for many companies. He has a particular love of online teaching and enjoys helping teachers take their first steps in the exciting world of the future where you can connect with, and help students develop, all over the planet.
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