During our Understand Your Brand (UYB) workshops, we lead our clients in identifying the things that only they can do best. An “only” statement, if you will. While we believe our work to be top-notch, on paper, our final products may be hard to differentiate from the competition, which is why it’s so important for us to revisit our “only” statements regularly, identifying where we really shine, and promoting those skills as part of growing our business.
Over the years, we’ve worked with over a dozen charter schools and their supporting organizations, rapidly increasing our experience within this specific niche that reached a tipping point in branding for Brooklyn’s Democracy Prep in 2013 and speaking on the topic of “Charter School Branding” at the National Conference that same year. The charter school education model is booming in the city of Nashville, and all over the country. After many meetings, brainstorming sessions, workshops, designs, content compilations, and website launches, we wanted to put our expertise and passion for the industry into a tangible, helpful resource to further our contribution in the space.
We committed to the right process.
We knew a blog post wasn’t enough, we knew our audience — charter school CMOs, teachers, and advocacy organizations — didn’t have time for empty apps or surface infographics. Our strength lies in storytelling and, as it turns out, that was exactly what we wanted to communicate to this arena — that through the power of their stories, charter schools could eliminate pain points and concentrate on fulfilling their organizational missions and purpose. And so, the idea of creating a free, well-researched, action-oriented resource — Build A Strong Charter School Brand — was born.
They talked. We listened.
Your work is only as good as the connections it makes with your audience. With that in mind, we pulled notes from our own experiences with clients, many hours of research, and conversations with school leaders, to articulate the largest obstacles charter schools face on the path to success.
Securing funding, recruiting and retaining talent, and increasing enrollment are the three most consistently-relevant hurdles we identified. With that in mind, we used case studies, hard data, and, of course, stories, to argue that storytelling, when genuinely compiled and executed well, combats all of those hurdles and propels charter schools toward the realization of more holistic, meaningful goals.
We gave “on-brand” creativity a personal touch.
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. We’re a visual society, and even the nerdiest of data nerds need strong imagery to complement the facts. Consistency is key. We were tasked with creating something that paired perfectly with the content and would speak to our target audience while ensuring it still felt like an extension of the Proof brand.
Vibrant illustrations brought distinct energy to what, alone, would have felt like an extra-long white paper. And while the aesthetic incorporated a refreshing quirkiness, we were able to convey a professional and personalized message to the reader.
We took it to the streets.
Once the smell of freshly printed and bound books reached our office, it was time to show the fruits of our labor. We sent dozens of hard copies to contacts across the country, and our landing page, which included a digital link to the resource, went live. Facebook ads, organizational outreach, and much more helped us make sure that all of that hard work wouldn’t just collect dust.
In hindsight, “only” statements can be downright scary. Our advice? Be willing to do the work that can take your brand’s distinction the next level, and be patient with your success. Has our business exploded with new charter school clients? Not yet. But it took only three days to turn convert a contact into a paying customer, and we’ve already secured a speaking opportunity as a result from our initial outreach. Most importantly, we’ve increased our presence in the charter school industry, and at the end of the day, we took a risk and became laser-focused — which has already led to beautiful outcomes.
Being the best at something is always better than finding yourself in the mix as just another commodity. Figure out your “only” statement and go pursue it with everything you’ve got.