Creating a Larger Branded Voice & Story for TAS

During SY2022-23, the TAS Communications Office will pursue a monthly series helping to prepare the TAS community for the launch of a new branding initiative, in accordance with the TAS strategic plan. 

By Lindsey Kundel, Director of Communications & Marketing 

Last month, we took you on a journey to unpack some of the most important best practices in school marketing and branding, showing why it took the TAS team a little over a year to think through these various pieces. This month, we explore the remaining four branding best practices: Brand Differentiators, Brand Voice, Branded Communications, and the Larger Brand Story. 

Once a school has a mission-aligned brand promise (1), positioning statement (2), and visual identity (3), the brand (or, in this case, the school) can tackle these four higher-level branding concepts. [For more information on these elements of a brand strategy, please read last month's post, found here.]

  1. Brand Differentiator 

A school needs to deeply understand its identity and what sets it apart from other institutions of learning. The mission statement is crucial in helping us to differentiate ourselves, but there are also more subtle things that set us apart from other schools. Our American approach to education comes to mind, but our 73-year history in Taipei is another. Our participation in the IASAS conference is an important differentiator. Still, even when you think about the other schools in the IASAS conference, I am sure that you can come up with different words to describe our peers in that conference. Ultimately, our key differentiators are not things that the communications and marketing team dreams up; instead, our differentiators have to do with the wonderful people, programs, and places on our campus that make TAS uniquely TAS. Our new brand will do its best to highlight those differentiators clearly and compellingly, which we hope will serve as a rallying point for our entire past, present, and future Tiger community. 

  1. Brand Voice 

Brand voice is one of my favorite parts of a brand strategy. Imagine having a conversation with TAS as an entity. How would we sound? What words would we use in that conversation? How would we make you feel after the conversation had ended? Essentially, "brand voice” best practices suggest that our organization should appear to have a fully realized personality. Even though we are an organization of many thousands of people, we can and will speak with greater clarity and cohesion by better spelling out our desired tone and voice for the community. 

Remember that, like brand differentiators, our brand voice, again isn’t something that a marketing consultant or communications team should dictate. It should, instead, always be organically grounded in our founding principles: the mission statement and school values. 

When you see our mission statement and values, what do YOU imagine our brand personality should look and sounds like? 

  1. Branded Communications 

When you’re creating a strong brand, every little detail matters. Your visual identity and brand voice need to be consistently applied to all physical and digital items (and experiences!). This type of cohesion builds brand loyalty because you feel like you can trust the entity to be consistent in all things, not just brand-related items. While our previous visual identity was consistently branded in many of our school communications, we look forward to even greater cohesion because our new brand will better align our “schoolwide” and “athletics” brands under the same color palette. We also will be more consistently applying this new brand across the rest of the school by including new and improved digital templates for all branded items. We hope you will feel this change starting in April! 

  1. Larger Brand Story 

A brand story is two things – it means that you’ve paid close attention to the previous six elements (brand promise, positioning statement, visual identity, differentiators, voice, and consistent communications), and it means that the sum of these aspects is slightly greater than the individual parts. Ultimately, building a brand story should be based on testimonials and people’s experience WITH your brand. For TAS, some elements will come from the experiences of our employees, students, parents, and alumni. This part of the brand can and should always continue to evolve as our community continues to experience and participate in school life. 

As always, thank you for staying engaged with TAS and learning more about our brand. Every single Tiger (past, present, and future) is a brand ambassador because a brand isn’t just what the marketing team does – it's what we all say and do, together, in pursuit of our mission. 

What other things do you think are a best practice for schools? Tigers, please reach out to the TAS Communications Office if you have any feedback or ideas for the new TAS brand strategy.

Stay tuned for next month (February), in which we will begin to discuss our new brand’s opportunities in the Year of the Rabbit and beyond.