Branding Your District, One Highly Successful Story

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At Scholantis we approach brand identity from one of two possible directions: either we take the School District through our Brand Ideation Process, or else when a District has a working professional brand already in place, we then tailor that existing brand to the SharePoint platform. One case of a District with an established professional brand was the North Vancouver School District, SD44.

We sat down with Victoria Miles, North Vancouver School District’s Communications Manager, to get a detailed perspective on why and how her district came to embrace branding. As Victoria explained, a “brand communicates professionalism”, it is “symbolic of services” and needs to be aimed at the “broadest potential group – a brand must have a broad and consistent reach.” Victoria went on to state that the North Vancouver District operates in an “environment of choice” – meaning that parents usually have several schools to choose from, both from within the district (including schools with specialized programs and religious affiliations) and from private schools within the general geographic zone. Given such a highly competitive environment, in 2008, SD44 elected to develop a professional brand identity so they could compete amongst the other educational offerings.

Ms. Miles herself, has been in Communications for more than 22-years: working with major organizations such as Vancity and BC Tel (now TELUS). In 2008 she was brought on board by the North Vancouver School District as their new Communications Manager. The brand followed an intensive consultation process with a number of the district’s stakeholders (including parents and students); and they used the district’s long established tagline: “a natural place to learn”, as their guide.

When Scholantis began working with Victoria, we really took the time to understand the existing brand. In fact, we were overjoyed to see a 14-page explanation of that brand! With a brand guidebook in hand, we were able to efficiently design a website that elevated what was an already clean and well-executed identity.[Click to see the SD44 website here.]

“Scholantis really had respect for the existing brand,” says Victoria. “They took the elements of it and made it work for the web”

Because the Scholantis platform is designed for collaboration and encourages new content to be posted, we always stress to clients the need for them to keep design integrity – to use great images – to keep the site fresh and appealing. As Victoria shared with us in our meeting, this was precisely one of the positive effects that the Scholantis SharePoint system brought to their district – it helped facilitate an understanding by contributors that “everybody is a brand ambassador”. “Everybody who sends along a great photograph and service story for us to share on the site is re-enforcing the brand,” said Victoria.

Once a clear brand is overlaid onto the SharePoint platform, the intuitive functionality and WYSIWYG editing tools, lead to increased user satisfaction and eventually also to less requests for support; another side benefit to strengthening a district brand.

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You can view North Vancouver School District’s brand guidelines here.

Keep an eye on this space, as we’ll be talking in our next post about how Scholantis assists School Districts of all sizes, to develop their own brand based on our tried, tested and true, Design Ideation Process. Stay Tuned.