Many of us shop with value in mind, we search for items that we recognize and trust. We seldom choose unknown products or products that appear less reliable. I’ve often wondered why we as consumers are so brand loyal. What has been done to us that prevents us from choosing a different laundry detergent or toothpaste? Why are those logos so familiar that we can identify the product without any actual text? Each brand has its own emblem or logo that distinguishes it from its competitors.
I started wondering how we as educators could use the idea of Branding to enhance the teaching profession. What might an educator brand look like? What message could we convey? Who might need to see our brand? I quickly realized that this could be a very powerful tool for educators. Teaching as a profession is in need of a public relations make over. Everyone knows a teacher who has changed the life of a student or who has been recognized for going above and beyond for many years as a valued member of a school. The vast majority of teachers are loved and valued by their students and the families they serve. Unfortunately, the teaching profession as a whole is not as highly regarded as the individuals within it, this has to change.
We already have some branding that represents parts of our profession, there are union and association logos, school and district images and let’s not forget the big red apple. These images have long represented organizations in which teachers have functioned, but they don’t deliver a clear message that represents the many facets of teaching. They don’t confirm the credibility of teachers, connect the community emotionally or represent the true value of a teacher. Other professions have branding such as logos and sayings that they use to solidify the value of their professions, just think of firefighters, police, military and medicine. These are all organizations that are highly valued by our communities.
I decided to throw out some possible criteria for developing a Teacher Brand.
- Must be high end: We only want the best, most qualified candidates in our profession.
- Must be memorable and easily recognizable.
- Must convey a clear message: What do we stand for? What is our purpose?
- Must include value to all: Why is the teaching profession essential to society?
- Must describe what we actually do versus what non-teachers believe we do.
At this point some of you might be thinking that this sounds a little too much like writing a mission statement, but I disagree; this is about publicly raising the profile of the profession and advocating for the profession through public relations. Our biggest allies in this work are all around us- they are the parents of our students, our neighbors and our families. Maybe it’s time for them to more clearly understand the work of educators and maybe we can use the idea of branding our profession to educate beyond our classrooms. I’d love to hear your ideas around Branding the Teaching Profession.