When I was asked a while back to write a book for Jossey-Bass, I was relatively non-committal. I had just finished back-to-back projects that resulted in Digital Leadership and Uncommon Learning, which took up a great deal of my time. In my mind I needed a break from writing and on top of that really had no clue what to write about. For me, the ultimate goal I establish when taking on a book project is to try to write a unique piece that either greatly enhances existing work in the education and leadership space or creates an entirely new niche. I’m not going to lie – in this bold new digital world this is extremely hard.
The acquisitions editor at the time never gave up on me. This made me think hard and reflect on what topic I was truly passionate about. I eventually settled on branding in education, but not for the reason you might think. During my career as a principal branding became synonymous with the successful digital transformation that occurred at my former school. Using digital tools, we crafted a new narrative about the amazing work that was taking place that was backed by evidence of results. We showed that embracing innovative practices aligned to a sound pedagogical foundation could create a learning culture rooted in meaningful learning and relationships. Efficacy, in part, was transparently integrated in our stories of struggle, systems change, and success. The power of telling our story galvanized and inspired us in ways we never could have imagined.
The outcomes described above might never had come to pass had it not been for Trish Rubin. In 2009 as I began my journey to becoming a digital leader, she relentlessly reached out to me and explained how I was incorporating branding principles in innovative ways. Trish, a former educator turned business maven, helped me realize that a focus on telling, not selling, was creating unique value to my school community. As a result we embarked on a journey to delve into how a brandED mindset could help promote, sustain, and amplify the great work taking place every day in schools across the world. We scratched the surface in 2013 as I worked with her to include a chapter on branding in Digital Leadership, which later came out early in 2014. However, there was more to this story.
As I reflected on my journey with Trish my mind became set on writing BrandED as a way to pay if forward with Trish and thank her for how she helped me as a leader. She opened my eyes to a concept that resonated not only with me, but also my stakeholders and countless educators across the world. She helped me address my own bias with a business only view of branding and together we worked to unlock the benefits of become the storyteller-in-chief. To model this, we wrote the book using a conversational tone. Chapters have been re-titled conversations as we take readers on a journey through the history of brand and how a mindset shift can leverage powerful aspects resulting in an improved learning culture, expanded school performance, and increased resources.
“If you want to change education, change the story being told.”
With change in education the brandED conversation is more important than ever. As greatness occurs every single day it is imperative that we share in transparent ways to create a new status quo using brandED strategies. Quite simply, if you don’t tell your story someone else will. Define before being defined. It is our hope that our book will lay the foundation for all educators to tell their story, empower learning, and build relationships. Relationships are built, in part, on feeling. BrandED illustrates to readers how feeling can be cultivated through image, promise, result, vision, belief, emotion, and value. Below are some key takeaways:
- Leverage digital tools to become the storyteller-in-chief and build better community relationships
- Strengthen internal and external communications among students, teachers, parents, and other stakeholders
- Increase resources by establishing strategic partnerships and strengthening ties to key stakeholders
- Promote connectivity, transparency, and community to build a positive culture that extends beyond the schoolhouse door to build powerful relationships
As with all books BrandED has been a labor of love. One thing that Trish and I emphasize throughout the book is how the strategies presented connect to research. Some other key aspects include reflective questions at the end of each conversation to help readers think critically about how to implement the strategies presented. There are also practitioner stories throughout the book that illustrate how brandED thinking can positively impact learning and leadership. Finally, the book wraps up with numerous resources curated in an appendix including digital tools that can be implemented immediately to begin, sustain, or enhance your brandED journey.
On behalf of Trish and I we really hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we enjoyed writing it. Grab your copy today and join the conversation on social media by using #brandEDU. Below are a few reviews.
“Branding instead of being branded. Defining instead of being defined. Innovative educators must stand up for their ideas and actions instead of being judged and branded by external agencies using standardized measures. Eric Sheninger and Trish Rubin present an excellent guide for educators and education leaders to tell their stories through BrandED.“
—Yong Zhao, PhD, Foundation Distinguished Professor, School of Education, University of Kansas and author of Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon?
“A great resource for educators who want to strengthen their connections with students, teachers, parents, and the wider community. These two innovative leaders don’t just capture how to tell the story of a school—they show how to create it.“
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
“Every day in every one of your schools, great things happen. How does your community know? Schools that are Future Ready boldly engage their community to build relationships and empower both students and families. Powerful yet practical, BrandED is the perfect resource to help your school share its story with the world.“
—Thomas C. Murray, Director of Innovation, Future Ready Schools
“Eric and Trish demystify what it means to brand one’s school by providing eight compelling conversations that not only lead to a deeper understanding of branding, but provide relevant ways for school leaders to frame their work… . In the vast sea of information in which we currently reside, using the BrandED Leadership methods described in this book will help school leaders reach their audiences in ways that create trusting relationships and loyalty.”
—Dwight Carter, Principal, New Albany High School
“Disruption is the new normal. And the great disruptors of our time are shaping the culture itself in innovative ways. Eric and Trish’s book BrandED sends a very compelling message to school leaders that developing and executing a smart, innovative brand strategy can disrupt the best practices’ conventions of the existing school system. Like great disruptive brands from Apple to Uber, educators now have the ability to get the community engaged and immersed in the school’s brand equity—and BrandED provides the roadmap for getting there.”
—Scott Kerr, Executive Director of Strategy and Insights, Time Inc.
Source: A Principal’s Reflections