Board approves BAC recommendation to commence branding effort

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.

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3 thoughts on “Board approves BAC recommendation to commence branding effort

  1. Andrea

    Branding is commonplace in the commercial world where a competitive edge is vital. Billions are spent to foster corporate brands. Some brands are apropos. But, some are just meaningless look good platitudes. In any event they are intended to attract customers and secure their loyalty. There are even some educational institutions of higher learning where branding has occurred, but thru time. Examples are Harvard, MIT, Notre Dame, Stanford, etc., where their branding is the result of consistent outstanding performance easily recognized by the results they achieved. Did these institutions hire firms to create their brand? Of course not. So when I see that Milford is going to spend $12,000 for some outfit to come up with a brand, I wonder what is the purpose? I don’t buy the it’s “valuable to the district” to have one argument. They don’t compete with anyone. As for as being a motivator for teachers, their pay and benefits are formulated by the union not performance based. So who’s going to benefit? How will the success of this branding be measured? And who’s going to do the measuring? In my opinion, there should be more important things to spend money on. But if you’ve got excess cash lying around, cut our taxes.

    Tom Cannon

    • Tom, there are many other benefits to branding than just providing a competitive edge. For instance, solid branding also helps the community understand our goals and direction, and focuses employees on the mission & vision of the organization. Good branding is more than creating a logo and tagline … it’s identifying who and what the organization is, on all levels, and then targets all efforts toward that identity. We actually have no idea if the universities you list had any outside branding help or not; but spending $12,000 on this is really not much when you consider this will help direct the district for years to come. We are also not going to have a company “come up with” a brand in a vacuum. This will be an effort involving the community, employees, and students, which will allow us to take a hard look at who we think we are; who others think we are; who we want to be; and how we get there. You and I often disagree on what is valuable to spend on, and in this case, I truly believe the little bit we will spend will yield very valuable results.

  2. Andrea
    Regardless of cost amount. I don’t see anywhere in your description the precise benefits of this branding. Your statement, “… it’s identifying who and what the organization is, on all levels, and then targets all efforts toward that identity. ” is meaningless. Sounds like fluff from a brochure. If the district is in the dark about all that, we are in big trouble. And you know that isn’t the case. There’s a well defined reason why we have public education. Everything about it is well defined and implemented. You know that. You’re an astute person. I see no need for “branding” I don’t know what specific problems it’s supposed to fix. And what the specific benchmarks are laid out to measure success. But, since the money is already committed I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Regards
    Tom Cannon

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