Building your school brand: What experts say
According to an EY-FICCI report on the education sector in India, the K-12 school system in India is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.4 million schools with 250+ million students enrolled.
According to India ratings, India’s education market is $133 billion with $ 56 billion in private spend, out of which $ 40 billion is in K-12 Education, as per Kaizen Education (KE), 2014. The private spending in the K-12 sector is growing at a CAGR of 12 per cent.
This indicates that as the industry becomes bigger, the education sector is becoming a competitive market each passing day. And, while this industry remains a service dominated industry, education entrepreneurs have started taking things seriously and understand that it also means business.
In the new emerging business scenario, brands are becoming the most valuable assets that a business can possess. Brands are the wealth generators of the 21st century and are capable of turning mundane names into desirable ones. On similar lines, Educarnival 2016 organised by eduExcellence at IIT Delhi this year brought together school leaders and marketing gurus to share insights on building the school brand.
Speaking at the session were Himanshu Manglik, who has spent 16 years at Nestle and is now visiting faculty at Management Schools and Member, International Advisory Board for Jaipuria International Journal of Management Research, and Rosetta Williams, an accomplished educationist currently working as Director, Presidium Group of Schools.
Manglik, while pointing out at a survey that brought forth how maximum parents want a good career for their children, explained why the ‘cluttered’ education sector needs branding. He explained the different aspects of the essence of a brand, that are – Purpose, Originality, Sincerity, Customer, Centricity, Clarity and Consistency. “A strong brand means the customer know what to expect from you and is able to differentiate you from the competition,” he added.
He also said that what was very important was to understand that being a brand, a school must not strive to offer everything to everyone and must define what it wants to be. “The way to becoming a strong brand is knowing that you cannot be all things to all people,” he said.
On the other hand, Williams also focused on how it was also important to retain manpower to build a brand. When asked about pre-launch branding, Williams said, “From my experience over the years, whenever you are starting a new school, you must start branding at least six to eight months before you start your session. You must start an awareness campaign. You must have interactive competitions, out up boards, announcements. If you talk of premium schools, a pre-launch is prepared with utmost detail. You need to have a date when you start your admissions which is well advertised. You must also have a few parent seminars as they really work irrespective of whatever city it is.” She focused on the fact that it was important to make a school stand out in competition, different from other schools, for it to be a brand.
Towards the end, as Manglik aptly put it, “As a strong brand, a school must be an USTAAD – Understand Aspiration and Area Dynamics.”