Brand is more than a logo

Our next summary of our Symposium speakers is on Vaughn Shinkus’ presentation “Capitalize on content to build a compelling brand narrative.” Most of Mr. Shinkus’ work is in helping organizations build traffic via electronic means, and he shared many helpful tips we can use at the district level.

Mr. Shinkus began by discussing a bit about the history of schools and marketing. The environment has changed and marketing is no longer a dirty word in education. Schools are actively working on marketing and branding.

Not too concerned about marketing and branding in your district? Brand is there whether you know it or not; whether you are actively working on it or not, according to Mr. Shinkus. Brand is more than a logo, it’s more than advertisements. It is the feeling and attitudes about your organization; it is what sets your organization apart.

Another way to think of it is like this – your brand is like an iceberg. Marketing is the part you see. But the much larger part is under the water and is what you can't see- the feelings, attitudes and beliefs about your organization.

To begin working on your brand, you must first identify your mission and values, according to Mr. Shinkus. Ask yourself - What differentiates our offerings? What are our goals? What value do we offer? What benefits?

Once you are clear on those points, Mr. Shinkus advises using story language to build your compelling brand narrative. When you are too close to your topic you tend to make it more complicated and less understandable. The story language does this for you. Stories are the building blocks of your brand.
Stories shape perception which influence attitudes which shapes policy. Good stories make an emotional connection, shape perception, transcend medium, push through message clutter and are shared virally.

Look to cultivate stories that convey your benefits. Each benefit is like a bucket. Does a story fit in one of the buckets? Mr. Shinkus shared a simple acronym to help review your messages. Are your messages made to stick? SUCCESS. Simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, story.

Next, Mr. Shinkus got practical and reviewed the areas that will get in your way as you work on branding. The fire that needs to be put out will always take away from the long term strategic marketing communication. This "tyrrany of the urgent" - the thing that needs to be done NOW - ultimately erodes longer-term strategic communications work.

He suggests managing content development by developing an editorial calendar and systematically soliciting story ideas. There should be a strategy to the content you decide to use; every piece of content should have a purpose. All content should be crafted in order to motivate, influence or inform a defined target audience. The huge number of media channels, however, makes it very difficult to decide where to focus. You may feel like you are always “feeding the content beast.”

To make your content most effective, follow these guidelines:
  • A quotation or comment that is less than 140 characters is best for twitter or your website.
  • Photo vignettes work best on Facebook and/or Instagram.
  • Video clips are best suited for Facebook or YouTube
  • A news story should be placed on your website and perhaps as a news release
  • Feature stories are for publications.
  • Talking points can best be shared with leadership and staff

Those are the key takeaways from Mr. Shinkus’ interesting presentation “Capitalize on content to build a compelling brand narrative.” His full Powerpoint presentation is on the members' only page of our website along with the Powerpoints from the other Symposium speakers. Stay tuned for a summary of our keynote speaker Kristin Magette’s presentation in the next issue of e-Comm Alert.

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