When we work with clients on brand initiatives, one of the first things we ask is, “what sets you apart from similar schools?”
Much of the time, we hear the same types of things again and again.
- We focus on career preparation.
- Our teachers really care.
- We have hands-on learning.
- Our facilities are amazing.
- We offer easy payment options.
- Our programs are accelerated.
These are all excellent – and even necessary – features of a school. But sadly, they’re not differentiating. This is a crowded market. Standing out means taking a hard look at what you do, and how you do it like no one else.
To put it another way, you need to come up with positioning. “Positioning” is simply brand jargon for how a product or service is unique in its market.
Target is the only mass low-cost retailer with a sense of smart, enviable style.
Even though Target basically does the same thing as Wal-Mart or KMart, that style sets them apart.
Volvo is the only automobile manufacturer who believes the most important part of the car is the human.
In a world where competitors focus on bigger, better engines, Volvo takes a stand for safety. They’ve even gone so far as to work toward the lofty goal of 0 deaths involving Volvos by the year 2020.
Volvo’s commitment to safety has inspired them to include their lofty goals in marketing materials
To come up with positioning for your school, keep these things in mind:
Your positioning should not be like your competitors.
Take a look around. Know who you’re competing with, and what they’re saying. Don’t say the same thing.
Your positioning should be consistent.
Ask 10 random people at your institution how they describe the school to other people. How consistent are those answers? Your goal is to get everyone on the same page as far what’s special about your school.
Your positioning should be easy to sum up.
There may be many things that make you great and different. Pick the most powerful and lead with it. Don’t try to say too much. Everything else can play a supporting role.
Your positioning should evoke emotion.
Whatever it is that makes you different, make sure it’s a thing that people are passionate about and committed to.
Your positioning should be actionable.
What positions you as unique can also help drive the actions of your faculty and staff. Think about Volvo employees. It’s easy for them to weigh every decision against the simple question – does this make our vehicles safer?
Your positioning should roll up to something bigger.
Does it align with your mission, vision, and values? If not, it’s an empty gimmick. Look deeper.
Interested in talking about what makes you different? You know we love chatting brand strategy.