Branding can be complex. Divergent opinions and ideas are put forward with passion by many stakeholders. So what role should Governors’ play in this?
Why governor engagement is essential
Branding is a strategic exercise, so governors should be involved to ensure the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school are captured in the brand.
Equally important is that adoption of the new brand is led from the top. Not everyone will like it, and that’s fine, but it’s important that everyone understands how decisions were made and that the end result was reached for the right reasons. Unified support of the new brand by SLT and governors will drive adoption throughout the community.
Governor involvement should, however, not be heavy handed. The best approach is for a single governor to be assigned responsibility for overseeing the branding. They can be part of the project team, or just check-in for regular updates. They then report back to all governors to rubber stamp key decisions.
When governor involvement hinders a project
Branding and design are very subjective fields and it’s the role of the project team – under the guidance of their design agency – to navigate the many decisions that need to be made.
It’s the governors’ role to check and test the big decisions to make sure they have been made for the right strategic reasons. Governors’ should provide objective guidance, not subjective opinions.
If governors start debating the merits of different fonts, or sketching out their ideas for a new crest, it’s likely to only hinder the project. Weighing into the decision-making process with subjective opinions will quickly escalate into team frustration, cost overruns, and the dreaded ‘design by committee’.
How this should look in practice
The key word here is ‘oversight’. Below you can see the five key stages of a typical branding process, and where the governor involvement should be. No two projects and circumstances are the same of course, so this may need to adapt to suit your school (read our interview with Farnborough Hill here) . The key thing is to clearly establish the role of the governors and the purpose of their input at each stage.
Creating the brief – Once the need for the branding project has been identified, the agency brief needs to be written. This will usually be written by the head of marketing (or equivalent) with the input from SLT and governors. Now is absolutely the time for governors to ensure the brief is strategically aligned with the school’s goals and set out any mandatory requirements they have. Governors should sign-off on the final brief before any work starts.
Testing the strategy – The strategic approach to answering the brief is a key point that will guide the visual and verbal direction of the branding. Governors should work closely alongside the project team and agency at this stage to discuss, debate and agree on the strategy. (sometimes this stage is combined with initial creative)
Checking concepts align to strategy – By this point the agency and project team will have explored a range of creative routes and will present their proposed creative to governors (workings or discarded ideas should not be presented). The governors should check that the creative meets the project aims, aligns with the agreed strategy, and is true to the ethos of the school. The discussion should focus on the big picture, not the detail.
Championing the new brand – By the point of final sign-off there should be no big surprises – the agreed concept has now been developed into a full brand. The governors should have a final sign-off of this before roll-out begins. Governors should openly give their full support to the new branding: buy-in starts at the top.
Sweating over the details is not a good use of governors’ time and is more likely to hinder the process than improve the outcomes. But no one wins when a last minute bombshell is dropped, so governor oversight is key. Strike the right balance from the outset and your school rebrand will be set for success.