What's Web Got to Do With It?

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 

In today's digital age, a school's website is often the first point of contact for prospective students, parents, and staff. Taipei American School is no exception – in fact, you could argue that a school website is even more critical for both international and independent schools that must market themselves effectively to a specific type of family: those that hold a foreign passport and are looking for an American education abroad. 

Therefore, it is crucial for schools to have an engaging and informative website that accurately represents their brand and mission. It might not be a glamourous truth to admit, but a school simply cannot achieve its mission, no matter how laudable, if it doesn’t have students enrolled in the school.  

In this month's branding education post, we will explore the relationship between a school's website and its brand, and how they can work together to help a school succeed in its mission. 

I’ve mentioned this in nearly every article that I’ve written thus far about branding – but it bears repeating ad nauseam because of how often people make this mistake: A school's brand is more than just its logo or colors. It encompasses its core values, mission, and the unique qualities that make it stand out from other institutions. A well-defined brand can help a school attract the right students, staff, and supporters who share its values and are committed to its mission. And where do most people go to find out about all these items? A school's website of course!  

Simply put: a well-designed, accurate, responsive, interactive and mission-minded website plays a critical role in conveying a brand to the world. 

Here are some ways a school's website and its brand are interrelated and can help a school succeed in its mission: 

  1. Creating a Consistent Brand Experience 

A school's website should reflect its brand in terms of messaging, tone, and design. By using consistent branding elements throughout the website, a school can create a cohesive and memorable brand experience for its visitors. This helps to build trust and credibility with prospective students, parents, and staff who may be considering the school. 

At TAS, we rely on our website to help us recruit families who may be aligned with our school mission to help their children receive a world-class education, and we want them to know that their KA-12 experience will be aligned and well-thought out from the moment they enter into our care. We also want our employees that we recruit to feel similarly. When communities feel like they can trust an organization with the small details, they are more likely to show both trust and grace for the larger areas of school life. 

  1. Highlighting the School's Unique Qualities 

A school's website is an excellent platform for showcasing its unique qualities and strengths. This can include information about its programs, facilities, extracurricular activities, and student or faculty achievements. By highlighting these aspects of the school, a website can help to differentiate it from other institutions and attract the right students who share its values and interests. 

At TAS, we’ve been on a two-year long communications journey in which our school has dedicated time and energy into improving our internal and external communications strategies, in alignment with our current Strategic Plan. Much of our plans revolve around our school’s digital ecosystem – and the TAS website is at the heart of that ecosystem. We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading our exclusive coverage of our community’s “unique qualities” through our increased news coverage. Before the current strategic plan, we would publish news articles on the TAS website about once every two weeks or so, for a total of about 2 per month, depending on the time of year. We are now proud to say that our coverage has increased by 500%, with at least three community news articles published every week during the school year. Our new website design will make the most of this increased news coverage by utilizing a more reader-friendly design so that our parents, employees, students, and alumni can always find out about their fellow Tigers, no matter where they are in the world. 

  1. Communicating the School's Mission 

A school's website is an essential tool for communicating its mission and values to the world. By clearly stating its mission and goals, a school can attract students, staff, and supporters who are aligned with its vision. Additionally, a website can highlight the school's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is becoming increasingly important to today's students and families. 

This is true at other schools, and it is doubly true at TAS. The TAS Board of Directors revised the school’s mission in 2021, based on community feedback, as part of the development of our current Strategic Plan. What this means for our website is that our current website was designed and written for a different mission – and it shows! The previous mission and our current mission – while bearing many similarities and constants – are distinct enough that our website and mission do fundamentally clash. The aesthetic was created with a slightly different message in mind, and it shows. In contrast, our new website has been lovingly crafted by the TAS communications team, in conjunction with our senior leadership team, divisional leaders, alumni office, and parent groups, to work in perfect harmony with the message and purpose of our new school mission. The website is designed to evoke a “feeling” in our users that is in synchronicity with our community’s commitment to learning, personal well-being, and service.  

  1. Enhancing the School's Reputation 

A school's website can also enhance its reputation by showcasing its achievements and positive impact on students, staff, and the community. This can include testimonials from current students and alumni, success stories, and community outreach programs. By highlighting these aspects of the school, a website can help to build a positive reputation and attract more students and supporters. 

The current TAS website was clearly designed to convey a large amount of information about the world-class curriculum we offer on our campus. Don’t just take my word for it though! The TAS communications team and I have waded through over 1200 distinct pages, posts, and forms on our current website, content that was designed to enhance our reputation through sheer volume. There was a time in digital marketing when this approach worked. However, our reputation (and the current digital marketing landscape) now requires a different approach to the website: quality over quantity. TAS has a solid reputation for our people and programs. Our campus is second to none on the island of Taiwan, and our careers page is visited by around a thousand interested applicants each month. What is now needed on our website is for us to use our platform to dig deeper into our community so that interested families and prospective educators can better envision their lives here after signing their enrollment or employment contract. We want them to deeply align with our mission, values, and community experience – not just be interested in us based on our curricular offerings or college acceptance rates. 

In conclusion, a school's website and its brand are interrelated and can work together to help a school succeed in its mission. By creating a consistent brand experience, highlighting the school's unique qualities, communicating its mission, and enhancing its reputation, a website can attract the right students, staff, and supporters who share its values and are committed to its success. A well-designed and informative website is an essential tool for any school that wants to stand out and succeed in today's competitive education landscape. 

What would YOU like to see in our new website?? Tigers, please reach out to the TAS Communications Office if you have any feedback or ideas for the new TAS brand strategy.

We cannot wait to show you our new website, which will be launched in early May 2023!