Competition in the independent schools’ sector is fierce, so it is imperative for schools to ensure that the outside world gains a true perception of its ethos and purpose through all its marketing communications.
Farlington is a thriving all-girls’ independent school in West Sussex, but its image and website were old fashioned and, I believe, holding us back. I wanted to refresh the brand to reflect the modern, dynamic nature of the school in order to make a strong first impression on prospective parents, whilst communicating clearly our values to existing parents and pupils.
The rebranding process started in the middle of last year with several projects being undertaken. First the uniform was reviewed. The Farlington green blazers and knitwear were old fashioned and frumpy and needed to go. The Douglas tartan green and blue kilt stayed, but out went the green blazers and socks, replaced by more stylish jackets and knitwear in navy. The Farlington clock tower motif was used in the uniform on the jacket lapel. Also, the uniform was changed at certain key stages of the school, so the girls were given a sense of progression as they moved through the school; Prep School girls moved from a pinafore dress in Prep 2 to a jacket and kilt in Prep 3; a more fitted jacket replaced the squarer blazer for girls moving from Prep to Senior School.
Our old website had several issues that needed to be addressed. It looked dated in design terms and had grown very difficult to navigate as there was so much content. There were hundreds of pages, so we had to go back-to-basics to decide exactly what information needed to be there and ensure it was fresh and interesting for different audiences. This involved focusing on our key offerings of academic rigour, extra-curricular activities and outstanding pastoral care. The clearly written content and improved navigation are underpinned by striking photography, which reflects the vibrancy and energy of the school.
To ensure consistency, an agency was engaged to both redefine the visual branding of the school, and to design and build the new website. Using a third party offered us the objectivity, support and expertise to help us to stand out. To fulfil the brief, the agency undertook research into the values and key strengths of the school to define the brand values.
Various options were considered for the new logo. The final choice references the school’s heritage by using the imagery of the Farlington clock tower, but refreshes the image with bold typography and a more sophisticated colour palette. The strapline ‘Inspiring girls since 1896’ highlights the positive values of the school and, again, our heritage. This message is reinforced by the other key message of ‘Discover Believe Achieve’ in our new marketing materials: brochures, signage, pop-ups, postcards and flyers.
The project did take a great deal of time and input from senior members of staff, but we are all very pleased with the results. Feedback from parents, pupils and other stakeholders has been very positive. The girls find the new uniform more comfortable and stylish; the website presents a more dynamic, truer image of the school; and the new branded materials meant that Farlington’s stand at the recent Independent Schools Show presented the school’s strengths to its full potential. The rebrand has meant that the whole school community can bond behind a strong identity and those beyond the school gates can gain a more accurate idea of the positive, purposeful activity at Farlington.