Alexandra Tremaine, our Brand Strategist and lead photographer, identifies five key elements to bringing a school’s mission to the front of a successful marketing campaign. Are you being strategic enough in your branding and marketing? Identify your audience.
Identifying your audience goes beyond parents and prospective students. What is your demographic? Are you a day school where the families hail from a close proximity or are you a boarding school looking to bring in international students as well as local ones? Knowing your audience and what they want to see in a school will help, but stay within your vision and your mission.
What is your school’s value proposition?
Why would a family choose your school over the competition? List all the strengths of your school. Performance and visual arts, three seasons of sports, advisor program, dorm life, weekend activities, language studies, all academic programs, AP courses, school trips, etc. Does your school offer a college counseling program or perhaps academic support? List the strengths of your school.
How do you take these values and the school’s mission and visualize it to your audience?
In addition to your list from above, include different areas of the school that should be highlighted in your publications. Does your campus have a landmark feature that looks beautiful during certain seasons or maybe it looks good all seasons? Suffield Academy has beautiful dogwood trees in the front of the main academic building and a landmark bell on top of what is called Bell Hill. This hill faces west and has beautiful sunsets, which overlook all the playing fields, a newer academic building and the new field house. List all the photogenic areas of campus, both interior and exterior. Now, with the list you created of the different values your school offers, plan your shoots.
I am a lifestyle photographer by nature, but there is a certain amount of planning and caressing a scene. Without giving away all of my secrets, I’d say that you should pre-plan some shoots down to models and clothing. Make your colors pop, make sure the kids and faculty look well groomed, and then make them interact. You want photos to look genuine and not staged. Light is key; so if you are shooting outdoor photos, keep this in mind.
Can you create an emotional connection with your audience?
Making it personal sells. Is your school targeted at overachievers who need academic challenge? If so, your images should show challenge and accomplishment, and should place the parent in the position of envisioning their child having similar achievements. Images should reflect the mission and value proposition.
Consistency is key.
Quality of images and design of your overall publication should be the same cover to cover, or on every page of your website. Your publications should be as good as any magazine you read off the stands or on your tablet, and your website needs to draw people to stay on the pages and browse the different tabs.
Contact Alexandra at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your specific needs, answer a question or to have a brief assessment of how you are currently bringing your mission to life through imagery and story.