Your services may be similar to your competitors. Your brand is what sets you apart from the rest!
Your services probably stay largely the same over the years, but a strong brand is both timeless and capable of constantly evolving.
Child Care Branding doesn’t have to be complicated! In this article, I’ll show you how to derive your core branding step-by-step.
What Exactly is a Brand?
Your brand is your identity. It’s how you define yourself through the use of differentiating elements. Your logo, your colors, and your words together combine to create your one big idea.
Building a brand is more than a school name and logo on a sign above your door. Your brand should be consistent. It should convey a harmonious message that you build into every aspect of your business.
Therefore, the best way to create a brand is to establish what consistency looks like for you and the feeling you want it to evoke about your child care business.
You break the process of creating a new brand into five simple steps:
- Decide what you want your school to represent
- Choose a name and tagline for your business
- Decide on your brand’s design and feel (colors and font)
- Develop your company’s logo
- Apply your school’s branding to everything you do
1. What Do You Want Your School to Represent?
The first part of this is to research your intended marketing and competition.
Unless you are starting a school from scratch, you probably already have a location (or locations) you operate in and a target demographic you serve.
Likewise, competing schools are probably already a known quantity to you.
So, you might feel you already know what your school represents. However, this can often be surprising.
For example, we recently worked with a school that was certain a newly opened daycare across town was too far away to have any real impact. However, a little market research showed they had lost several potential customers to that new daycare. Knowing your competition, their strengths, and weaknesses can be crucial in forming your most effective strategy.
In the same way, fully understanding your current (and preferred future!) clientele can give you insights into how to serve them better.
So, it often makes sense to do some market research. Start by making sure you can answer the following key questions:
Questions About You:
- What age groups do you serve?
- Who is your ideal customer?
- To which socio-economic bracket do your customers belong?
- Which age groups are currently sold out, or which are most popular?
- For which age group do you have the most capacity?
- What do you want parents to feel when they visit the school?
- What is your mission statement?
- How do you want to describe your philosophy?
Questions About Your Competitors:
- Who are your “top-of-mind” competitors?
- What age groups do they serve?
- Do they have availability or a waiting list?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
2. Your Business Name and Tagline
You probably already have a school name, but do you have a tagline? The tagline is a short text you’ll place below your name in your logo – and it should state exactly what you do.
If your company name is something like “ABC Child Care,” then the tagline is less significant; the company name already says what you do.
However, choosing a tagline becomes more important if your company name is more metaphorical (such as with “Happy Bunnies” above).
You want the tagline to be short and capture what makes your school unique to the parents. What does your school do for them that no other school does? Think about how it makes them feel?
Your tagline takes out the guesswork and makes your school’s purpose crystal clear in explicit terms: “Magical Child Care Schools.”
3. Your Child Care Brand's Design and Feel (Colors and Font)
Color choices greatly affect how your customers feel about your business. Large companies spend a LOT of money on the psychological effects of their color palette, so a good approach can be to “piggyback” off their hard work!
When designing your color palette, look at prominent colors that related companies used. By related companies, I mean companies that cater to the same audience – so, we considered Disney’s pale pink, yellow and blue palette when establishing our colors for Happy Bunnies, for example.
If you go wild with a bunch of different colors, your branding will quickly become confusing. A simple way to make a clean design is to choose three to four key colors and use them everywhere. You want one of those to provide a good contrast that you can use to make visual elements stand out.
Choosing a Color Palette the Quick Way!
At Child Care SEO, when we take on a new client, they may not have a defined color palette. However, they usually have an established logo they love, so we start by establishing the palette.
Here’s a way to speed up the process!
Open a new browser window and navigate to coolors.co – note that’s cool-ors with an extra o.
Then choose “pick palette from photo” from the menu, as shown.
Select your logo file.
Now you can select how many key colors you want to have in your palette – I recommend you stick to the key colors from your logo. If your logo doesn’t have many colors, you can generate some in the coolors tool.
Select the key colors by choosing from your logo image, like so.
And then export the palette into a PDF file.
This gives you the three key colors, but also several shades and complementary colors too. By sticking to just a few colors throughout your branding, your designs will look consistent. That will establish trust and be easier for your target customer to digest.
When it comes to font choices, it’s best to choose just a few fonts and stick to them. You can choose a fancy font for headings if you like, but I strongly recommend you use a standard san-serif font such as “Arial,” “Helvetica,” or “Roboto” for your body text as it will make it easier to read.
Also, consider the size of your font! Do you want to make things seem whimsical and fun, or professional and corporate? Different fonts communicate different feelings. You can also use specific text sizes to emphasize – big headings for titles, smaller sub-headings underneath that, then more normal text size for the body.
Your logo is the cornerstone of your web brand identity.
If possible, pick a simple logo that will work well in color and monochrome. This can be helpful when printing doesn’t allow you to use the entire palette.
If your school is still in its early stages, think about how far you might grow in the future. Will your school have branches in other locations? Then, at some point, you may need to rebrand. Having that monochrome logo can make it easier to evolve your branding.
Typically, you’ll need two versions of your logo.
The first is a landscape version like this:
It’s a good idea to have three elements in your landscape logo design:
- An icon
- The school name text
- Your tagline.
You may want to keep the font the same for the name and the tagline. It makes the design look cleaner.
Change the font case if you like – so you see, I put the name in uppercase and the tagline title case.
Limit your logo to just three or four key colors. You should keep the background transparent and save the file in PNG format. PNG is a non-lossy format that allows transparency – and that will ensure your logo looks crisp.
One other thing to think about here, ideally, you want a logo that can also work in black and white – that may be more important for print than your website. It can also be fun to have a single-color version in some parts of the site, for example, in the footer. In my sample logo, this might be tricky, as we have shading in the cubes.
Once you have the landscape logo, you also need a square version like this:
Here, use the icon. You’ll use this logo wherever you can’t fit the landscape version – such as on the browser tabs.
5. Be Consistent - Apply Your School's Branding Everywhere
So, now you have defined your core brand assets, it can be a good idea to create a style guide or branding guide document. That document will list all the colors, styles of text that you want to use, formatting rules, etc.
Make sure your web designer has access to this document too!
A branding guide is also helpful in hiring staff members so they know what the brand guidelines are – which helps with consistency.
Your branding guide should contain:
- A list of fonts that you want to use throughout the sites – and where to use them
- The color palette and three or four key colors for that palette (the ones we generated above)
- Both versions of your logos (landscape and square)
- How to handle name and abbreviations, if necessary. For example: “Child Care” not “C C,” the name must always be shown with an initial cap in all writing, etc.
- How to treat the tagline. For example, should it be above or below the school name?
All these branding decisions will help with consistency across all your web presence.
You can do more to enhance brand identity using specific design guidelines, but this simple approach here will help you get started and develop an excellent brand identity.
When designing flyers, brochures, or newsletters, consider what colors you want to use and keep within your color palette.
Ultimately it’s important not to go overboard with branding – so don’t over-design everything! Keeping things simple will make the brand easier for people to learn and remember.
Now, did I cover everything you wanted to know? Do you have any further branding questions?
Please get in touch with me with any comments or feedback – I’d love to hear from you. I always reply promptly and in person.
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