In the spirit of the hockey playoff season, “stick handling” is one of the key skills that distinguish star hockey players from the ones that just take slapshots from 10 feet in front of the goal. Those are “power” players, and their role is important. But when a forward can flick the puck behind the shoulder of a goalie while 6 players converge in front of the net, that’s impressive. Similarly, it’s not uncommon to see some of the creative signage during these playoff games adorned with phrases like, “Stick it to ’em, boys!”
Since one of the things about creativity is making connections between unrelated things, that got me thinking about our schools. Where are you “sticking” messages about your school? How “Sticky” are the words you’re using to promote your school. One of the best books on Marketing speaks to this matter – “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath (check it out here) asserts that ideas have to be SUCCESs-filled in order to be successful. Of course, SUCCES stands for those things that make the remarkable memorable – Simple, Unexpected, Credible, Concrete, and Entertaining StorieS. Remember, your school has to be remarkable first. Then the task is how to make that remarkability memorable.
You can also reinforce your school’s “brand” by sticking it in unexpected places. Bumper stickers were always the way unique messages were conveyed, but with today’s painted bumpers, bumper stickers can peel paint away when they need to be removed.
The solution – window clings. Colleges have used the rear window cling for a very long time…and now some schools are taking on the practice of putting the letters of their school in white ovals, as had been the practice of island destinations. The Dave Matthews Band was one of the first groups to use “DMB” in an oval, and, if you’ve ever driven around Pittsburgh, you’ll see some which say, “n’@.” That’s “Pittsburghese” for “and that,” as a common way to include other things or locations in a sentence. For instance, “We’re gonna go see mum ‘n’ dad ‘n’at t’mawr” can refer to other people who might be there, or other things which may be on the day’s agenda.
Perhaps you have a unique logo for your school that you can place in the oval, with the name of your school and it’s location printed in small type around its perimeter. Perhaps your school can think of a creative way to connect its mission to its name. Some years ago, a Catholic school decided against using “SSS” and opted for “S3” to demonstrate its high academic scores, especially in mathematics. That’s a “Sticky” idea…one that can definitely assist in the branding and positioning of a school within the community.
The nice thing about window clings is that they can be used in the lower rear windows of cars, but also on side windows. They can also be placed on the front doors of businesses that support your school; on homes of parents, grandparents and relatives; and on doors, windows and automobiles of individual donors, increasing exposures your school can have to wider audiences.
Make it stick – as many ways as you can.
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2015 (Original Publication Date: 20100510)