Amalgamating two established schools, each with its already established identity and vibrant school community presents a number of communication challenges, not least the potential for confusion and misinformation within the existing school communities. Here’s how St Mary MacKillop College tackled the challenge on how to build a new school brand.
St Mary MacKillop College is a Catholic co-educational school catering for Kindergarten to Year 12 students in Busselton, Western Australia. The College, which opened in February 2016, was born out of the unification of two existing schools — St Joseph’s School and MacKillop Catholic College.
Chris Wallace, then Principal of MacKillop Catholic College, contacted imageseven in 2015 with the priority to ensure a smooth transition for the planned amalgamation of the two existing schools and to ensure any concerns or confusion around the amalgamation were identified and mitigated with a communications plan and key message guide.
Early talks revealed that while the amalgamation of the schools would bring significant benefits for the local community, the value was not immediately apparent and had not been articulated to the school community, or internally to school staff.
Compounding the communications challenge was that, as a new entity, St Mary MacKillop College lacked any demonstrated heritage or credibility for prospective customers, and had no brand recognition outside of the school community — a barrier for attracting new enrolments to the College.
Understanding and defining St Mary MacKillop College’s value proposition — why parents would choose the school over its competitors — was critical. The College is at the heart of its small community, where it encourages a love for life and a vibrant outlook for its students. The amalgamation would mean a new era for education in the south west of WA. With this understanding, imageseven developed a strategy that identified the issues associated with the amalgamation and then created Key Messages for the School to consistently and accurately communicate its value to existing and prospective parents and position it in the marketplace.
In bringing the two schools together, a new visual identity was required and imageseven worked with the School to refine its logo, establish visual identity guidelines and then implement this across stationery and uniforms.
On 1 February 2016, St Mary MacKillop College welcomed new and returning families to the College for the school year. Reports from the school indicate that the marketing and communications efforts undertaken in 2015/2016 effectively communicated and mitigated any concerns around the amalgamation and met the information needs of parents in the respective School/College communities.
imageseven’s ultimate measure of success is client satisfaction and in 2016 St Mary MacKillop College became a member of imageseven’s School Marketing Institute (SMI) mentoring program, a simple, but revolutionary marketing system to help school’s take their marketing to the next level.
“The School Marketing Institute has proven to be a very useful resource for St Mary MacKillop College. The fact we have access to a host of marketing tools in one place is fantastic and will help us in achieving the goals for our school. The mentoring calls and the website are also well structured to really help us advance our marketing knowledge and skills,” said Linda Tolley, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, St Mary MacKillop College.