What is a brand? Ask 100 different people, and you may get 100 different answers. To try and put it succinctly: A brand is a reflection of a business’s core values, personality, and image.
But honestly – that’s not all there is to it! A bunch of elements all roll together to create a brand, including visual identity (logos, colors, fonts, etc.), emotional touchpoints, audience relationships, and the ways a business exemplifies its goals and values. At its core, defining a brand involves examining the experience a person has when they interact with that business or organization.
Why is building a brand important to consider as an educator entrepreneur? Developing a brand for your teaching business can help you create an unforgettable experience for the families that choose to invest in your classes. With great branding, you can
- Increase awareness of your services among families
- Inspire loyalty by providing memorable experiences with your business
- Stand out in the marketplace with a clear brand identity
Creating a brand may seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! We’ve broken down the process into five steps that help you find your audience, create your image, and use your brand successfully.
And remember, branding is a process, and it’s something that even the biggest companies on the planet are continually doing and redoing… and redoing as their goals, audiences, and markets change over time. Use this overview to get those gears turning and start thinking about what steps you can take to establish a brand for your teaching business.
What makes a brand
Let’s start with the big picture and define the main elements that business owners should think about when developing a brand.
Brand identity is the personality of your business. Essentially: What do people think of when they think of your teaching business? This includes both tangible and intangible elements. Your brand identity is your logo and name as much as it is how people feel when they take a class from you or communicate with you (and your team, if you manage an organization). Do you want families to feel empowered after taking a class or visiting your profile? Curious? Energized? Something else?
Brand mission, vision, & values drive every single choice you make as a business owner (or they should). They represent the purpose of your business; why are you doing what you’re doing, and how will you do it? Establishing a mission statement gives you the foundation to make sound, consistent decisions about your brand.
Brand awareness is the extent to which people know and care about your brand in a specific market. Quick: Imagine you need a new phone. Who makes the phone you’d want to buy? Whatever company you just thought of (Apple? Samsung? Google?), they’ve created brand awareness in the mobile phone market. By building up your own brand awareness, you set up families to think of your teaching business when they need a specific online class.
Families can become aware of your brand through all sorts of channels, and many educators choose to use social media, digital ads, and marketing tools like Outschool’s flyer generator to get their name out there. And don’t forget about your network! Friends, family members, and loyal Outschool customers can help new learners hear about your business through word of mouth or sharing on social media.
Brand positioning is the process of creating a specific space for your brand in the minds of your target audience. This is where you define how your brand stands out from competitors, and why your classes are the right fit for families. By focusing on your positioning, you can establish a brand voice, look, and feel that resonates with your ideal learners and parents.
Those ideal families are referred to as your target audience. Teaching on Outschool, your audience starts with families with kids ages 3-18 living anywhere in the world. That’s a pretty big pool of people! To refine your brand positioning, think about what smaller segments of those families are most likely to seek out your services (more on finding your audience below).
Okay got all that – now do I design my logo?
Sorry, not quite yet! Business owners excited about branding are often tempted to jump right into the “fun” stuff – logos, names, taglines, etc. But very successful brands don’t start there. They start with the foundational pieces that should guide the creation of assets like logos and more, then work their way up. Branding your teaching business should probably look something like this:
Step 1: Identify your audience
For your teaching brand to make a difference, it’s got to talk to the right people. So who are your prospective customers? As we said above, you start with the huge category of all families with kids around the world. But you offer something unique – a certain subject, grade level, skillset, teaching style, etc. – and that is going to resonate with certain learners and parents and not others. Your mission is to identify which specific people will love your classes so you can talk directly to them.
Are you really only trying to connect with learners ages 15-18 interested in art? Or parents who want their 10-year-olds to learn math? Try to get in your learners’ and parents’ shoes and understand the way they think and talk. Even better if you can chat with a few of them to get a clearer picture of what resonates with them. You may find out that they have more motivations, interests, and needs than you realized!
Educators on Outschool also need to consider how they can connect with both learners and parents when branding their business. Learners are the ones in the classroom with you, but ultimately parents usually have the final say on purchasing a spot in your classes. Each of these distinct audiences (and you may have multiple parent and learner audiences, depending on what you teach) is referred to as a persona in the branding world.
We’ve put together this guide to creating audience personas to help you get started!
Step 2: Write out your values, mission, & vision
What is the purpose of your teaching business? What do you care about, why do you teach, and what outcomes do you hope to achieve? The answers to these questions help you make decisions as a business owner, and help families decide if your services line up with their own values and goals.
If you teach solo on Outschool, putting your thoughts about your mission down in writing might be an easy task. If you run an organization with multiple educators, you may want to take some extra time to bring others in on the process. Either way, creating a written document with these ideals matters, even if you feel like you already know the answers in your head. They are your guiding light, your “constitution” that each of your classes, marketing materials, and brand elements should exemplify.
For ideas on what your mission and vision could look like, check out these examples of excellent mission and vision statements. Or get a taste of Outschool’s official mission!
Step 3: Establish your unique selling points
Now you know your audience, you know your purpose – it’s time to talk about what makes you different and begin to develop your brand positioning.
Get ready to make another list! Think about what makes you stand out on Outschool.
- Do you use a particular teaching style or technique?
- Do you incorporate specific themes or content into your classes in a unique way?
- Do you teach a niche subject that isn’t easily found elsewhere online?
- Do learners get to do or make something really different and special in your classes?
- Are there aspects of your personality that make your classes particularly exciting, interesting, or engaging?
Once you’ve come up with a few of these answers, remember to include those points in your class listings, marketing, and branding materials where appropriate.
Step 4: Design your image
It’s time! By completing the steps above, you’ve set yourself up to design visual assets that truly represent your teaching business. Free design tools like Canva make it easy for anyone to create brand assets, including color schemes, fonts, and logos. We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to help you craft your brand identity (including your image).
If you’re doing your own design, remember that your image should embody your values and services. If wacky science experiments are central to your classes, then maybe crazy, bright colors and shapes are right for you! If you offer intensive 1:1 tutoring for standardized tests… crazy colors may not communicate your mission very well.
Most importantly: once you create a plan for your visual brand identity, be consistent. Anything with your business’s name on it should use your established colors, fonts, etc. That’s how you make yourself memorable to families and build your brand awareness.
Step 5: Find your voice
Last but not least: Consider how you want to sound when you speak to families. You already have a teaching style and tone you use in class with learners; how can you reflect that voice in your class listings, communications, and marketing materials? The way you speak and the words you write are important pieces of your brand that can easily get overlooked.
Think of it like this: If a parent or learner were to chat with your brand, what would that experience be like? Would they have a casual conversation, using slang and making jokes? Would they feel like they were speaking with a professional who’s an expert on their subject? Deciding on your brand’s voice also helps you maintain that consistency that’s so important in building your reputation and making an impression on your audience.
Where to use your brand
You’ve put in the effort to create a brand, now send it out to every place people interact with your teaching business! Visual elements can find a home on your class images, video background, or marketing materials. Your voice and values should be evident in your educator profile and class descriptions. Your listings should speak directly to your target audience to demonstrate your brand’s promises and purpose (great for SEO, as well).
Branding can take your business to the next level, and Outschool is excited to be here with you for the ride. Check out these courses and guides to keep adding to your entrepreneur toolbox: