Five minutes with… Caitlin Holmes – The importance of creating a brand for your nursery
Having shaken up our employee Q&A, we’ve delved into our staff’s specialist subjects to gather more information about the powers of technology in the early years sector.
This time we’ve tasked our content and campaign manager, Caitlin Holmes, to tell us all about why a nursery’s brand plays a vital role in a setting’s success. Here are her thoughts…
Firstly, Caitlin, why did you select this topic?
When people think of the word ‘brand’ they often believe it revolves around the design or logo that’s used to advertise a particular organisation and promote its products and services. However, it’s so much more than that.
Yes, you’ll need a strong visual identity as a nursery to create interest in your setting, but you also need to utilise both your physical and online presence in a way that portrays who you are, what values you hold, what you stand for, your personality, and what matters most.
When you get it absolutely right, you can have a recognisable nursery that creates a memorable impression. There’s no question that brand has evolved over the years, and it plays an integral role in how premises connect with colleagues, parents, and wider stakeholders – it’s perhaps now more important than ever before.
What should a nursery be looking for when it comes to understanding their brand?
Firstly, if you’re able to sum up – in a few emotional words – your setting’s entire promise of what it will be like for children to attend and parents to feel happy with their choice, you’ve found your brand.
That’s because it’s all about the way your customer perceives you. It encompasses everything – from advertising and customer service to reputation and visual assets (such as your marketing materials, uniforms, and social media etc.)
Some people refer to it as being the ‘DNA’ of the organisation and I think that’s a perfect way to see it, in order to understand it.
What top tips would you give to nurseries looking at enhancing their visual identity?
- Be authentic
Prospective parents viewing your brand online – whether via your website, social media presence, or marketing collateral – will soon tell if you do truly live and breathe everything you say you do. If your virtual or physical tours of the setting don’t match with what you’re portraying in your visual comms, you risk impacting trust in a negative way. It’s important to be consistent.
- Get employee and customer buy-in
I’d always recommend that when you embark on a rebrand, you involve as many of your team and customers throughout the process as possible. They can tell you an awful lot about what your organisation truly represents and stands for – and it could be completely different to what you think.
When you listen and value what they’re saying too, you can use this insight to help form your new ‘look and feel’ of the setting.
You could also see if there are employees internally who want to become your ‘brand champions’ once your visual identity is launched too. These individuals can be brilliant, trusted advocates for your nursery.
- Explore creative ways when developing your brand
You could decide to run workshops for colleagues and partners, ask for Facebook reviews, or conduct parent interviews to gather testimonials and further information about what they like… and don’t like. I’d suggest that your nursery never ignores the honest feedback either – even if it might be quite hard to hear – because it’ll all help to create a brand that’s true to what you’re all about.
It’s also worth having a nominated ‘spokesperson’ who could be the face of your brand. You need someone who lives and breathes your organisation and represents your setting in a way that connects perfectly with parents and wider stakeholders. These individuals could then carry out live Facebook videos of virtual tours – so people get a feel for your setting – or be available to answer questions about what sets your nursery apart from others.
- Use your online presence to its full potential
If you’re a smaller nursery – and only have a social media page – you can still build your reputation as being a trusted source of information. While brand colours are important, if you don’t have the time or budget to focus as much on this area, parents will see more value in how helpful you can be, and that’s where your memorable impression comes in.
Posting content that covers the latest Early Years Foundation Stage guidance or nutritional advice, for example, really shows you care about your audience, and you understand what they want to read or know more about.
I’d recommend using a professional tone of voice whether you’re communicating online or printing a physical newsletter – the content you create must be friendly and approachable but also professional. The language you use is so important in this respect too, it’s about being human and often putting yourself in the reader’s shoes.
And what are the benefits of having a strong, authentic brand?
It not only helps you to become instantly recognisable, but it enables you to build a credible reputation which can speak volumes to parents and wider stakeholders when they’re trying to find out more about your nursery.
A refreshed visual identity can set you apart from your competition too and subsequently drum up referral business. And the great thing is that it’s not solely about customers either, your employees play a pivotal role throughout. When you get buy-in, that sense of pride your team has when they put on their uniform can empower a workforce that wants to do everything it can to provide the best possible childcare.
If you’re looking at ways in which you can market your nursery successfully, drive and manage enquiries more effectively, find out how Connect Childcare’s software solutions can help. Plus, did you know that for every demo booked, we’ll plant a tree in Madagascar? Help us get to 250 by July 2022, join our sustainability pledge here.