Standing at the intersection of a career in education and a second, “encore act” in business consulting, I see branding, or as I describe it for educators, “Brand-ed”, as an integral part of developing professionalism for teachers at any stage of career.
Brand was once a staple of the Madison Avenue community. With the rise of social media, brand development in education makes perfect sense. Communicating who we are in a schoolhouse without walls becomes part of every daily lesson plan.
In a Daniel Pink’s new book, To Sell is Human”, he catches up with something I instinctively used as I crossed from the “island of education” to the “land of business” eight years ago. It was a great divide, and the business community greeted me– a lifelong educator on their shore–with doubt. I wasn’t part of their “tribe”. But I made a lasting impression, and built my work on the idea that I had been in the business of education-Sales! I sold education to kids, parents, my superiors, to grant-making entities, even to the real estate brokers in the neighborhood of my school-they were in sales, too. I became part of the business community, and a thought leader. Yes, I’ve attained “chiefdom”! And that came from thinking about brand.
Now, I’m journeying back to education, with the experience of years of business consulting, and it’s perfect timing. My “chief” status in business is about branding. I can offer you three reasons why being “Brand-ed” is important to support your unique, personal education brand.
Reason 1: Teachers Benefit from the Reflective Process of living Brand-ed
In our busy lies as educators, breathe. Give yourself time to reflect on where you are in the story of your career. STORYTELLING is at the root of developing a personal brand, Think or write the story of how you became the teacher you are today and where you may be headed. You’ve got the beginning of creating your Brand-ed stance. This isn’t about touting yourself. It’s not an ego-centric or selfish process. Start with the words, “Once upon a time”. See where that takes you. My own story begins, “Once upon a time a 23 year old, first year teacher was crying in her first classroom on the day before school. In walked the principal… ” That was me, and my journey in education as a “different” educator started with tears. Write your story. Tell it to a few people. Including your students.
Reason 2: Teachers Benefit from Gaining Perspective by Living Brand-ed
Developing a personal brand may seem like it’s “all about you”, but it’s not. Think about conveying who you are as an educator, what you believe in, value, and live. Do it from the perspective of what Madison Ave marketers call POSITIONING. Think of others. Who will you share your brand with, and how do you want them to see you? Are you sharing that brand in real time and online? You have to be consistent in both delivery channels. Remember my story about the tribe of business? As I built my brand through many interactions with the biz tribe, it became easier. I learned who they were, how they thought, how they regarded me, and I refined my positioning with my audience in mind. Live in another’s shoes as you develop behaviors that show your Brand-ed commitment. Monitoring how you come across is essential for your development. Living a Brand-ed career means you are genuine. You can’t fake it. The kids can smell a phony a mile away. You are building your brand to build authenticity that positively impacts relationships with your students –and their learning.
Reason 3: Teachers Benefit from the Clarity of Claiming a Brand-Ed Professional Life
Teachers are communicators. Messaging is right out of Madison Avenue. Research and design teams work tirelessly on finding just the right path to a consumer’s heart. We need to do the same with our own Brand-ed “campaign”. Clarity of brand message is important in telling your story. You must be the creator of that brand. Be the CBO, Chief Brand Officer. If you don’t do this, people do it for you in real time and online. You want your personal brand to be crystal clear. Challenge yourself to get your personal brand for professional life into ONE word. That will create clarity.
You can claim that one word and use it from the first day of school to position yourself as an educator. My one word is SPARK. I see myself as a catalyst. I live that and enjoy the benefit of people who see that in me and want to work with me.
Most of all, understand that a combination of passion and talent makes for a lasting brand. Your passion to educate and the skill set you bring to the classroom will guide your efforts to live a Brand-ed life.