Strategic Planning and Branding in Tandem? Yes.

Lori Woehrle
Strategy & Branding

Schools often ask us which should happen first: strategic planning or branding? Our answer: yes.

If you know you need more right-fit families; if you know you need stronger messaging; and if you know you need a brand refresh—doing both projects in tandem is the most efficient way to get it done. Let us explain.

Nearly every strategic plan calls for elevating a school’s visibility, straightening the record on myths about the school, and (or) strengthening the brand for admissions and development. It doesn’t come as a surprise at the end of the process.

A strategic plan doesn’t alter your brand. It sets the strategic future and next steps for the institution, but it doesn’t affect who your institution is at its core. Your brand is more than your name, logo, colors, or tagline. Your brand is the promise you make about who you are as a school, the needs you fulfill for students and families, and your impact on the community you serve. That doesn't change; how you articulate it does.

  • Sound strategic planning and a brand refresh both rest on unbiased discovery: frank conversations with key stakeholders that provide valuable insight to tasks at hand. Why not integrate those conversations to avoid survey fatigue and save time and money?
  • An attentive brand strategist will learn much about your organization by being present during the planning process. Why not bring that person in from the beginning?
  • One outcome of your strategic planning should be an inspiring summary of your future. Why not present those ideas within the framework of your refreshed brand and avoid a missed opportunity to present your school from a position of strength?
  • If you spend one admissions cycle on your strategic plan, then the following on your brand refresh, that is a two-year process. Why not get there sooner?So we say yes. Yes to doing some of your most important work in tandem. Invest your time and resources efficiently and effectively. And get your best possible outcome in half the time.