Branding 101 for Childcare Providers

Nike. Apple. Walmart. We’re all familiar with these companies and how just their name alone communicates so much. We know that Nike is all about pushing yourself to achieve your physical goals, Apple is about computing for those who think differently, and Walmart offers convenient shopping at affordable prices. 

And how do we know all of this? Because all of these successful companies spend millions on their branding.

But branding isn’t just for Fortune 500 companies — everyone has a brand, including your childcare business! Everything from your physical location to the way you write emails contributes to how people think of your brand. 

In this post, we’ll go over what branding is and how you can leverage it to create even better relationships with families!

Why is Branding Important?

A brand makes a company more than just a product or service; it creates an idea, philosophy or way of life for people to get attached to. When you wear a shirt with the Nike swoosh on it, you get a different feeling than when you wear one with the Lacoste alligator.

By developing your brand, you become so much more than just a childcare provider; you will create a much stronger connection with families who will know to go to you when they need guidance for all things early childhood development.

Writing a Mission Statement

First and foremost, it is important for your brand to reflect what’s important to you. A mission statement is a one-sentence summary of your company’s aims and values. These can be deceptively tricky to write because there is often so much that you are trying to do and reducing it to a few words can be quite challenging. 

Here are a few examples of great mission statements:

  • Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
  • Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses.
  • Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

By creating a mission statement, you will be able to effectively communicate to others what your organization stands for. It will also be a great reminder to refer back to as you make important decisions in the future so you can be more confident that it feels “on-brand.”

Creating Buyer Personas

To create a strong brand that resonates with people, it is important to first understand who those people are. Creating buyer personas is an exercise that will help you understand more about these people including their:

  • Demographics
  • Influences
  • Challenges
  • Goals
  • How you can help

These can be based on your current customers or the types of customers you would like to attract. Try to create at least two or three different personas that best represent your target customers. 

For example, there could be CEO Suzy, an entrepreneur who values extended hours. Then there could be Texting Tom, whose most important criteria is to see updates on his child throughout the day. 

A full buyer persona should be written on one page so you can see all of the important information at a glance. It also helps to give them catchy names so you can easily refer to them in the future. Here is an example of what a finished buyer persona might look like for a healthcare provider:

Courtesy of SmartBug

Competitive Research

It is always a good idea to get a sense of what the competitive landscape looks like in your area. Parents will be shopping around, so put yourself in their shoes and see what else is out there. Most importantly, try to see what is missing and where you can stand out. 

For example, perhaps you can stand out by positioning yourself as the provider for busy professionals with long commutes. Or maybe you can be the center that is a hub for your community and regularly hosts events for people to socialize. The key is to find something that no one else is offering (or not offering well) to carve out space for you to shine.

Visual Identity

Whether it’s your website, emails, pamphlets, handbooks or posters, there are many forms of communications that you will be creating over time. Take the time to create a visual identity for your brand so all of these feel like they are coming from the same place.

Start off by choosing a color palette for your brand. You can use a site like Coolors to find a color you like and other colors that complement it.

If you don’t already have a logo, now is the perfect time to create one. A logo will help give more personality to your brand. And you don’t need to be a designer, either — you can use a logo maker like Hatchful to make one on your own!

Now it’s time to choose some fonts. Keep the number of fonts you use to two: one for headlines and one for sentences. You can use Google Fonts to browse through hundreds of free fonts to find the perfect ones. Try not to go too “font crazy” though — keep it simple and choose fonts that will be easy to read.

Finally, decide what type of imagery you will use. First, decide if you will be using illustrations or photography. Then decide what these visuals should consist of. For example, is it ok if people are posing for a photo or do you want photos to feel like they are ‘in the moment’? 

Your Voice

What does your brand ‘sound’ like? Is it direct and all about the facts? Or is it more friendly and casual? Identify your communication style and ensure that anything coming from your business will feel like it’s coming from the same place, regardless of who wrote it.

Create a Brand Guidelines Document

Once you’ve done all of this work, document it all in a brand guidelines document. This will be a great resource to refer back to in the future and make it really easy for others to create on-brand content in the future.

Be Consistent

If you only take one thing away from this article, make it this: be consistent! It is impossible for people to get a sense of your brand if it keeps changing every day. The more you can stay true to your brand, the stronger your brand will become.

What are some of your favorite brands? Let us know in the comments!

Check out our article on updating your brand for COVID-19!

Michael Keshen

Michael writes for HiMama's early childhood education blog and ECE Weekly newsletter. When not developing content for early childhood professionals, he can usually be found out and about with his wife and daughter exploring all that Toronto has to offer, or playing music with his karaoke band.

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