Over the years, I’ve run in to clients that have a similar problem: they don’t have a clearly defined brand. Child care centers, dance studios, after-school programs - any program that enrolls children - it doesn't matter.
They focus on “out feature-ing” their competition without any regard to how their program’s benefits support their overall messaging. In some cases, they haven’t put thought in to their overall messaging, at all!
They’re “just another child care center” in a sea of other child care centers, pushing their new playground equipment as their biggest differentiator. They’re a dance studio with a slick logo, a so-so program and zero personality.
It’s not enough.
You need a well-defined brand identity as the cornerstone of ALL your marketing efforts. Without it, you will get lost in the sea of competition.
So, what IS “brand identity?”
First, I need to say that this isn’t a how-to article. That will come later (but you can sign up to hear about it). This is an article that talks about the different elements to consider when building your child care or dance studio brand. A while back, I wrote about the important difference between brand and branding, so we’re going to leave that be and dive deeper in to the BRAND part here.
There are four pieces to your brand identity:
- Brand Values
- Brand Voice
- Brand Personality
- Visual Brand Identity
These four components combine to convey the tone, feel and look of your youth enrollment program to the outside world. When well developed, they will make you stand out in the crowd and help attract more of your “ideal customers” (more on that in a minute).
Let’s break the pieces down a bit…
These are your core values – what you hold dear.
Why do you do what you do? What is your main reason for teaching children? When a child leaves your program, what do you hope to have instilled in them?
What is the purpose of your program?
How do you speak in your messaging? Are you more casual or professional? What do you focus on? What language do you use to convey your values?
What benefits can a parent expect by enrolling with you? How do you describe them?
If your brand were a person, how would you describe it?
Is it funny? Serious? Academic? Playful? What’s the motivation behind your brand voice?
NOTE: A fantastic exercise to identify both your brand voice and personality is to create an Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA).
An ICA is a single representation of who your ideal customer is. By creating a profile including details like: gender, hair color, eye color, employment, marital status, concerns/fears, favorite movies, what they listen to, what they read, etc., you can direct all messaging to ONE “person.” That focuses your tone and ensures the all-important human element in your marketing.
Visual Brand Identity
This includes your logo, color pallet, fonts, tag lines and image choices – anything that visually represents your brand values, voice and personality. It should support whatever you’ve identified in the above components.
It should also be consistent across all channels. I CAN NOT stress this enough! That color isn’t “purple.” It’s PANTONE 2076 C.
I'm not just being a persnickety marketing guy here, I promise. Look at the difference:
Imagine telling two different designers to “just make it purple.” You will wind up with two different purples sitting on a table next to each other.
That’s like showing up to a job interview in a hula skirt and hard hat. Not cool.
Instead of leaving it up to designers or printers to figure out what you mean by “purple,” create a style guide that contains the exact colors, fonts, logo representations, etc. that you have identified as your visual brand identity.
Consistency builds brands. Brands build business.
A well-defined brand identity will tell parents who you are before you even sit down to speak with them. Couple that with honest marketing and a great program and you’ll be unstoppable.
How much time have you put in to identifying your brand? Do you feel like your leads “get” what you're about? Do you find you’re attracting the “wrong” type of people to your program? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Until next time – Be Well. Be Happy. Shape minds.