I am going to start off by saying that there is something about the term “Branding” in connection with schools that just throws me off. I think in education, where our work is so “human”, the term “branding” just doesn’t sit well, although I do understand why people use it. Sharing your story in schools though, is especially important today, not because it was not important before, but it is just easier to do so.
That being said, I decided to read the book “The Power of Branding; Telling Your School’s Story”, by Tony Sinanis and Joseph Sanfelippo, not necessarily because I was interested in “branding”, but I have known of both of the writer’s work in schools and how they were doing great things, and wanted to see what they shared. I will have to admit that I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of the book, but right away, it was more than about “branding”, but was more about “leading with the heart” and building connections. That caught my attention right away.
What I loved about the book was that it shared practical ways to “tell you story”, mostly through social media, but it focused on, more importantly, creating your story by simple things. The authors shared simple things about knowing student’s names, celebrating birthdays in the community, and making their connections so personal. In a topic that could have been so cold, they showed the importance of human connections. I know a lot of people love the Simon Sinek quote saying, “people don’t buy what you do, but they buy why you do it.” The one thing that I would add is that many people don’t buy “why” you do anything, until they “buy” you. If you do not facilitate real connections amongst people, your story will not be as powerful or real, as opposed to making real connections first. This book puts these connections out in the forefront.
The other element of this book that I loved was the focus on not simply telling a story, but making that story a reality. It reminded me of the article, “Good Companies are StoryTellers. Great Companies are StoryDoers“. Although it is a business article, the title applies deeply to education. If you tell a “great story”, it will be meaningless if a student comes home and says that school sucks. The most powerful “word of mouth” in education will always come from the mouths of our students. The authors understand this concept and share some great examples of schools and teachers that create great experiences for their students.
This is a short read that is great for school leaders and really surprised me. If I could change one thing, it would be the title. It does not talk about simply telling your story, but a lot about creating it, which is much more important. The book goes way deeper into the importance of relationships than the title would imply, which is part of the reason why I loved it so much.
If you are interested in the book, here is the link.