Madison schools want input for new branding Campaign

Gayle Worland:

If Madison Avenue met Madison public schools, imagine the possibilities:
Billboards touting the joys of high school algebra?
TV spots selling fifth-grade science?
Facebook updates on student test scores?
It’s not quite a case of “Extreme Makeover,” but the Madison School District needs to put some polish on its image, officials say. The word is out to marketing firms that the district would like some help, and officials are asking the public – particularly parents of school-aged children – to join them at Marquette-O’Keeffe Schools on Monday night to brainstorm on “positive branding” techniques.
The desire to spiff up the public perception of Madison schools came out of months of discussions last year as a community team formed a five-year strategic plan for the district, said Superintendent Dan Nerad.

Ideally, everything an organization does improves its brand. Today’s wonderful solo ensemble is a great example of a subtle, positive student, parent and faculty event.
I’d rather see the Administration and Board focus on substantive improvements than simple “messages”. Doc Searls is right on: “there is no demand for messages“. Verona’s recent approval of a Mandarin immersion charter school resonates far more with parents than spending precious dollars on messages.
Send your thoughts to the Madison School Board:

5 thoughts on “Madison schools want input for new branding Campaign”

  1. A few more “branding” links:
    General Motors decided to pursue a “brand is the problem” strategy some years ago – to no avail. They hired an executive from Proctor & Gamble, Ron Zarella, to deal with their problems. In the end, as always, “its the product, stupid”.
    Brand Autopsy, home of the “toe tag” headline, is often worth a visit:
    “Substance, not fluff”

  2. I don’t know. For years folks have castigated the district about needing to have better public relations. Rebranding is definitely an example, superficial yes, but let’s face it, this is America. Superficial is our middle name!

  3. “America” appears, according to Edelman’s recent survey, to have less trust in many things:
    The complete 2009 survey:
    From my perspective, the ongoing MMSD communication critique has been far more about substance than style. Example 1, after lots of work, the “Citizen’s Budget” has disappeared. We (apparently the Board and public) are given any number of “numbers” on budget issues, but, as far as I can tell, rarely the whole picture
    There certainly are a number of good things underway in our public schools. However, I do think in general, that the District Administration is continuing the “same service” approach to nearly everything while some neighboring Districts and non-traditional schools innovate where it matters: adult to children activities.
    Parents have access to a great deal more information when considering a move in 2010 than even five years ago. Spending time on messages for which there is no demand seems fruitless.

  4. A “Eurocrat” £200,000 campaign being sent to homes and schools:
    They are normally painted as faceless, grey Eurocrats ridiculed for endless deliberations on the bendiness of bananas or the amount of light that bulbs should give off.
    But now European Commission officials have had their revenge – by producing a lavish comic book portraying themselves as heroes battling to save the world.

  5. The branding idea feels manipulative and repulsive. We need substantive changes, not superficial imagery. When the school district starts to have high standards and meet the needs of all students, including those of advanced learners, the word will get around and people will come here, like they do for Appleton’s schools. In the meantime, things are going in the opposite direction and all the spin in the world won’t help for long.

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