When it comes to managing your music school, it can be easy to overlook the importance of branding. You already have engaging classes, talented instructors, and passionate students, is building a brand really necessary?
The short answer is yes.
The longer is still yes, but you need to have a coherent plan. Contrary to popular belief, simply slapping together a logo is only one step of branding. The bulk of the work comes in as you backup your logo with a solid promotional strategy.
The good news is that branding doesn’t have to be difficult. Read on to learn a little more about what it is and why it’s important.
First, what is Branding?
Before we delve into how to build a branding strategy, we need to be clear on what a brand is.
According to the traditional definition: a brand is a name or image associated with a company or business. This could be in the form of a logo, a catchy slogan, or the name of your company. Branding comes in when you market your brand to the world with the goal of making the logo, slogan, or name, synonymous with your service. In other words, branding creates brand recognition.
Of course, this is all simple and good in writing. But in reality, branding is hard to define. Jeff Bezos, Founder, and CEO of Amazon sums it up as:
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
– Jeff Bezos, Founder, and CEO of Amazon
A common misconception is that branding concerns only the logo. In actuality, that’s only part of the story. A logo may be your visual identity, but keep in mind visual identity is only part of branding.
Visual Identity or visual branding covers only the imaged aspects of your brand, such as your logo, your company colors, and your social media display pictures.
Beyond the visual components, your brand is also what people think of when they see your logo or hear your name. It’s consistency in how you present your school. This includes:
- Your space: How do your waiting area and classrooms look?
- Your staff: Are they reliable? What are their teaching styles?
- Your presence in your community: Are you part of any events? Do you participate in community fundraisers? Do you support local causes?
- Your students: How do you show off their talents? Recitals? Social media spotlights?
As an example of effective branding with a good visual identity, let’s look to one of the best branding campaigns of the modern era: Nike. Their visual identity is their iconic “swoosh” logo, known to practically everyone in the world. On top of that, they also have their “Just Do It” slogan and their wide array of commercials with professional athletes and everyday people.
Just because your music school doesn’t have the same marketing budget as Nike (at the moment), doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits from building a solid brand.
Their combination of visual and overall consistency in their “Just Do It” campaign was the trailblazer that boosted Nike’s portion of the North American athletic shoe business share from 18% to 43% from 1988 to 1998. Clearly, branding makes a difference.
Of course, your music school doesn’t have the same marketing budget as Nike (at the moment). But that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits from building a solid brand.
Why Build a Brand?
Let’s take a look at the many benefits of building a brand:
Branding can Help you Build a Good Reputation
Having a solid brand will give your music school market credibility. When done right, effective branding will make trust and integrity synonymous with your business.
Part of curating a good brand reputation is to maintain your objectives and oversee your rapport in your community. This is everything from the type of classes you offer, to the way your instructors interact with students, to managing reviews of your school on your website and social media. A positive reputation will also lead to more student referrals and community acknowledgment.
Tip: Using a software management system to help you manage your online reviews is an easy way to take more off your plate. Look for one with Google verification so your business can show up on your Google My Business Listing.
Branding Gives You Recognition
People tend to go with schools they are familiar with. This means if your brand is easy to recognize and consistent in service and quality, people will choose you and recommend you to their friends and family.
Branding Leads to Emotional Connections
Most humans are empathetic to some degree, and in business, this applies by using emotion to sell a service. In other words, if you can get people to connect with your music school emotionally, you will get more students and build a better reputation (see, it’s all connected!).
To make genuine connections with your target audience, first, you have to define your brand (we’ll talk more about how to do that later, so keep on reading). When you share the same values and beliefs as your customers, that’s when you create emotional resonance.
Branding gives your business focus
Branding sets a standard of expectations for more than just your customers. A good brand will also give your employees a purpose. What are you working for? Why do you do what you do?
Think of a brand as your company’s guiding star. It can give you direction, and remind you of your values and focus. When done right, branding can help businesses maintain expectations and exceed them.
Having a solid focus will also aid you in marketing to your prospective students. It delivers a clear message that sets you apart from the crowd.
Branding Creates Loyalty
Having a solid brand inspires loyalty in your students and your staff by giving them something to stand behind and be proud of.
Students will stay if they find value in your school, and part of that is feeling like they belong. If your school has a good reputation, strong focus on the craft, and emotional resonance, your students wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.
And similarly, your staff want to work for a company they believe in. They want to teach in a space that they connect with, and a huge part of that is to belong to a school with a clear focus.
In short, all of these advantages are connected.
So How Do I Build a Brand?
By now the advantages are obvious, so it’s time to delve into that “coherent plan” I mentioned earlier.
Here are the steps on how to build a brand:
1. Start by Defining it
Before you can market your brand, you have to have a clear idea of what it is. To define it, ask yourself:
What service are we offering?
This is the most basic question, but it’s also the most important. Do you offer group classes? Do you provide one-on-one coaching sessions? Do you go to your students or do they come to you? Having the answers to these questions clearly defined in your mind is the first step to creating a brand.
What sets our music school apart from the others?
Now think about what makes you special. This isn’t the time to be modest. Do you boast the best music instructors in the city? (Or perhaps, country?) Do a significant amount of your students go on to prosper in musical careers? Do you have a high student satisfaction rate? Knowing this will guide you in targeting your branding strategy once you start marketing.
What are our values?
Come up with your objective and mission statement. In other words, figure out what you are trying to do. Do you want to inspire the love of music in children? Do you want to instill lifelong skills? Or do you want to be the best school for professional musicians? Having a clear objective will help you focus your branding and aid you in the creation of your logo and slogan.
Who are our target audiences?
Do you teach primarily beginners or seasoned pros? Do you offer classes for small children or teens or adults? You may want to be a one size fits all school, but keep in mind if you are specific, you can stand out from the competition and laser focus your branding strategy.
2. Make Your Visual Brand
The next step is to create what the majority first think of when it comes to branding: your visual identity.
Create your music school logo and set your school colors, and any other symbols that are significant to you, and stick with it. These should be posted everywhere, on your website, on your social media, on every sheet music you hand out, and on your music school app.
3. Establish Your Brand Voice
This is the next step after visual branding.
Start by creating your slogan. Another way to think of it a slogan is as your music school motto. Make it short and catchy, upbeat and positive. Think of Nike’s “Just Do It!”.
Beyond your slogan, your brand voice also extends to how you communicate with your customers and potential leads. Are you professional or friendly? Relatable or prestigious? This is when knowing your target audience can come in handy.
For instance, if you mainly teach newcomers and young children, a friendly and relatable approach is best. On the other hand, if your roster is filled with seasoned pros, a professional and upscale tone may work better in your favor.
Set a clear voice and stick with it, be consistent on blogs, social media posts, and press releases. Soon enough, your brand voice will become synonymous with your music school. And that’s exactly what branding is.
4. Coordinate & Integrate
Now that you have your visual identity and company voice down pat, it’s time to coordinate and integrate it into everything. This means coordinating your brand name and logo across all sites, social media accounts, merchandise, and events. Coordination may take a little extra work, but it will do wonders by allowing easier discovery of your business.
Tip: Keep the same profile photo for all social media sites to maintain consistency and to help your customers find you easier.
A good example of brand coordination is WellnessLiving customer ABC Academy of Music in Toronto, Canada. Their visual identity, including logo and “Student of the Week” features, are consistent on all social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which allows for easy discovery and identification of their music school.
Integrate your brand into everything you do, from how you advertise your business to how you treat your students. Stay true to your values and stay focused on your objectives. This is where consistency is key.
5. Live up to your Brand
Once you’ve settled on your brand identity, you need to live up to your promises. This is integral to fusing your slogan promise with your actual business. Remember, your goal is to make your awesome brand synonymous with your music school. Once you do, that will set off the momentum of returning students, customer loyalty, and referrals.
Be sure to remember that building a solid brand doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, the process of brand-building never truly stops. Some years later, you may consider rebranding. That’s a whole other beast, and it’s one that’s built on your current foundation. Your brand’s mission statement and objective are there to guide you and inspire you to always meet them, and surpass them. The important thing is to never stop improving.
To Sum Up
It’s no secret by now that branding is important, and when done right, it can set your music school up for success. It’s also much more than just a logo or a slogan; it’s everything your music school stands for, and how your students and your community perceive you. That said, the key to good branding is to not overthink it. All you need to do is think about what makes your music school unique, and why you do what you do. Then take that passion, and share it with the world.
Now go forth, and inspire!