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School Branding Style Guide
Consistent branding is helped by having a brand style guide

The brand of your school or business is its visual elevator pitch to the world. The company colors, the logo, imagery, and your tone all blend together to create your brand that has the potential to attract clients. Your brand is your chance to stand out against competitors. Because of this, having consistency in your branding is key to marketing your school successfully. 

Your brand is your first impression

Brand Identity

What is your brand identity? Your brand identity is made up of the visual components that make up your brand. Some of the elements consist of the logo, company colors, the typography, and more. Your brand identity is your identifiable feature, the way that everyone recognizes your school. 

Logo

Your company logo is ultimately the first impression you make with the world. A good logo can be anywhere from a school crest to an original design, but it should reflect your company’s purpose and be thoroughly planned. It needs to be universal to your company, meaning it can look attractive on your school building as well as your website. While it is important that your logo stands out against competitors, there are a few guidelines to consider: 

  • Simplicity is key: Keeping the design simple avoids the chances of mixed messages being sent to your clients. You should take one look at the logo and get the message; stick to one or two colors, and keep the font readable. 
  • Make the colorless version just as impactful: It’s inevitable that your logo will be seen in black and white in some advertisements. Ensure your logo still makes a lasting impression without color. 
  • Prioritize scalability: Your logo should look good anywhere– whether it’s a print advertisement, a website icon, or a billboard. Make sure the design of your logo can be scaled to any size and still look good. It is important to have a vector format of your logo so you can use an SVG on your website and in order to reproduce your logo onto large signs and small business cards without a loss in image quality.

Typography

Typography is a crucial component of a brand, including the typefaces and how they are implemented. One way to narrow down your typeface choices before making a decision is to run tests on different browsers and systems, with different devices. How does each typeface look on a PC versus an iPad? A major ingredient of brand consistency is finding a typeface that looks consistent across different platforms, browsers, and operating systems. 

When deciding your brand’s typography, it’s important to not go overboard. There are plenty of online resources to help you make a decision. As a general rule of thumb, choose two or three fonts to use consistently, and only use fonts that compliment each other. When choosing between typefaces, it is common to pair a serif font with a sans-serif font.

Font pairing example

Color

School colors are usually attributed with tradition, so there can be little flexibility in creating a color palette. However, for schools with more complex responsibilities and levels like connecting with parents, alumni, even the government, a simple color palette with only 3-5 colors may not be enough. In these cases, it’s beneficial to create an accent color palette, to provide emphasis for the primary colors. The accent palette can be composed of your primary and secondary colors, monochromatic colors, and natural, toned down or tints of colors. 

The complexity of a color palette will vary between schools; however, consistency is key when using these colors to ensure you’re fostering a solid brand identity. 

Imagery

Implementing original photography with your brand identity is a great way to stand out online. To further solidify your brand, it’s important to capture the essence of your school through real photos of students, staff, and families. Be sure your images represent the diversity of your school. Stock photos are okay every once in a while, but they shouldn’t be the primary source of imagery for your brand. Authenticity is key when marketing the brand of your school. 

When cultivating your brand’s photographic presence: 

  • Accurately represent your community and its diversity
  • Make sure your images are high quality and convey a welcoming tone
  • Have a central focus
  • Prioritize close up pictures
  • Use simple backgrounds

Voice

Tone is a visual aspect of brand identity that is sometimes swept under the rug. The tone you use when creating branding materials like brochures, pamphlets, manuals, online copy, etc. should be consistently written with the same tone of voice. It is important to decide if the tone of your school is formal or informal, conversational, or more sophisticated; those guidelines should be applied consistently across all website copy and marketing materials so your school has one solidified voice. 

Method

Your methods of communication with your audiences should be steady across all channels and media to foster a good brand identity. 

  • Paper materials: Your paper materials should all be printed on the same quality and weight of paper, either coated or uncoated. 
  • Design: The design of your materials, both online and print, should compliment the content you are sharing. The formatting of your materials will impact how readers will interpret the information, so be sure to consider the dimensions of your material, both online and in print. 

Better branding, better trust 

In any industry, clients and consumers trust stronger brands. In the education world, keeping a good brand identity with authenticity and transparency will better market your school to potential clients. Schools and educational communities with a strong brand reputation are inherently trusted by their community members; without a sturdy brand identity, your school is at risk of developing a poor reputation, or not having a reputation at all. 

How to solidify your brand identity

  • Create a set of brand guidelines to eliminate error 
  • Match branding to your school culture and keep the voice of your brand consistent
  • Be consistent with brand elements like typeface and color scheme 
  • Consider working with influencers that align with your school culture to further set your brand identity 
  • Create a team to manage your content and brand identity 

We would love to talk with you about your school’s brand identity and help you review your website for consistency. Contact us today.

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