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Rebranding your school to an academy? Here’s how.

As of March 2017, academies make up about 25% of all schools in the UK out of a total 24,288 (Department of Education, 2016). When schools convert to academy status, administrators often make the decision to rebrand the new academy with a new name, logo, motto, colours, uniform and more.

A rebrand of any kind can be a complicated process, but it can be an even more intricate process for education institutions with parents, pupils and other stakeholders feeling emotionally (and financially) invested in their local school’s brand and identity. This sort of involvement in the school’s rebranding makes it more difficult to decide on abstract symbols of the school’s beliefs and values such as a name, logo or colours. We take a look at how schools have rebranded in the past and give some top tips for those looking to rebrand their institutions.

What you might need to change:

  • Key Messaging: School name, tagline, motto, mission statement, goals etc.
  • School Culture: Whether a drastic shift or a minor transition to strengthen an existing element of the school culture, it may be necessary to align the school’s culture with the new direction of the rebranding. For example, if a school adopts a new identity as an institution with an emphasis in the arts, it would be fitting to establish this new identity in the school’s culture with more of an emphasis on creativity from school rules to the curriculum.
  • Brand / Style Guidelines: If introducing a new logo, font, colours or other design-related elements, an update or creation of brand / style guidelines will make the transition easier with specific criteria on spacing, sizes, colours and fonts for all print and digital branded content.
  • Logo: As one of the more obvious rebranding symbols that represents the school’s identity and reputation, the school logo is often one of the first things marketers consider changing in a rebrand.
  • Uniforms: If the school’s colours have changed, it’s worth updating the school uniform as well to match the school’s overall branding.
  • Stationery: Letterhead, diaries, envelopes, pens, branded merchandise etc. all overhauled to reflect the new school brand.
  • Website / Online: Social media accounts (profile photos, header images, biography copy, school details etc.), website design, copy, graphics, email signatures etc. must also be updated.
  • Advertising Materials: Prospectuses, brochures, signage, banners etc. re-designed and printed.

An example of a primary school rebranding when it converted to an academy is Westminster Primary Academy and Children’s Centre (formerly known as Claremont Community Primary School). The school underwent a name, uniform and headteacher change along with shortening the summer holiday break and renovating an old bathroom into a teaching space. With all these changes happening, parents were consulted prior to the summer holidays by the Fylde Coast Academy Trust to keep them informed of the pending changes and gather their thoughts and, more importantly, to gain their trust. The academy eased the adjustment for parents (and financial burden) even further by offering free jumpers to all pupils and free ties for Years Three to Six. A great example of a school rebranding with their stakeholders in mind.

What you might want to consider:

  • Stakeholders: When making decisions to rebrand and what changes to make and how, always keep your stakeholders in mind. From pupils, parents, local neighbours and the council, gather opinions from those who matter to ensure your rebrand is perceived across all channels in the way you intended.
  • Response: Be sure to monitor your rebrand’s emotional response. For example, if you’re attempting to rebrand as a sustainable school, but stakeholders find your new logo cold and unrelated to the environment, it can be worth rethinking and reworking your newly branded materials.
  • Include Top School Leaders: The decision table should include the top school leaders to engrain the change from the top down and throughout the school and its community.
  • Positioning Clarity: Make it easy on students and parents to understand and determine whether the school’s values align with their own. Your new positioning should be easily identified through your rebranding designs and messages.

When Emneth school rebranded and became an academy, the school took on a new name, logo and uniform. Deriving inspiration for the new logo from the locality and history of the school and surrounding area, Emneth Academy chose shades of green as a representation of the area’s commercial apple growing industry. As well, the academy’s name, Emneth, is a variety of apple. The academy developed a clear position by focusing on their roots and reflecting their educational values through their new name, logo and uniforms.

Are you in the process of or considering undergoing a rebranding? At AlphaGraphics, we specialise in helping education institutions deliver data-driven, automated marketing campaigns with full-service strategy, design, print and more to improve student recruitment. To find out more, visit: www.education.agnortheast.com

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