Last year, local attorney Geoff Pittman was named Chair of the Business Advisory Council (BAC), a group appointed by the board to provide business perspective on a variety of issues. One task they were assigned was to evaluate the efficacy and potential costs/benefits of clarifying the district’s image, awareness, and presentation to the community (i.e., the district’s “brand”).
“Branding” encompasses more than just a logo or a tagline. Branding creates the image and perception a person has when they hear a name: the overall feeling and belief that product, service – or school district – engenders. A good brand highlights strengths and reinforces them in everything the organization does. The only way to create a strong, lasting brand is to focus an entire organization on that message. Once the brand positioning is identified, that becomes the nexus of all that is communicated.
School districts, in general, are not good at branding – it’s not something that has been seen as necessary. However, a strong brand can create so much positive energy for any organization that it is something that should be considered carefully. And that is why the board asked the BAC to investigate if it were appropriate for the Milford School District to invest in a branding effort.
The BAC worked on the question for a number of months, researching, talking with people, and discussing within the Council. At the January 18 school board meeting, Mr. Pittman presented the BAC’s findings. Following their work, the BAC recommends “the District should engage a professional organization to develop a Branding program, to harness public support and artistic input, and to facilitate the community interaction necessary to successful implementation of the District’s new brand.” They also project a full branding effort for the district, which would include community input, would be in the $12,000 range.
Board members agreed a branding effort would be valuable. Currently, there are several different logos in use, but more importantly, there is not one “message” on which the district focuses. Personally, as someone who has worked in marketing and branding for my 30+ year career, I feel very strongly about identifying the district’s brand. I have seen how powerful branding can be for companies and products, and I am excited about creating this communication platform for Milford Schools. In fact, this has been something I’ve encouraged district administration to pursue since my first year on the board, but the time has not been right until now.
And indeed, the time is right: the board approved a motion to allocate the $12,000 for a branding project and directed Superintendent Nancy House to start the branding process. As the administration moves forward, more information will be available to explain how you can get involved.