The Strategy for Swift
The Swift School
The current mission of the Swift School is “to prepare children with dyslexia and related language-based learning differences to be successful in life. We will strive to accomplish this mission by teaching them specific learning strategies and skills and by identifying and fully developing their talents. To do so, we will create an environment that is exciting, challenging and supportive.” A mouthful and not very memorable. Even the director has trouble remembering it word for word.
The first step is to focus on a word. While the Swift School helps students with a variety of language-based leaning differences, the most obvious one to focus on is dyslexia. Why don’t they just say dyslexia? Well, non-profits and educational brands often have trouble limiting their brand in any way. But you will never get in the mind with idea like “language-based learning differences.” You can be inclusive with your program but need to be exclusive with your messaging.
The Swift School= Dyslexia. So if the word is dyslexia we now need a way to verbalize the idea that is memorable.
The way a brand gets established is with word of mouth. But for word of mouth to flourish it has to lend itself to being passed-along. It needs to be short, simple, easy to remember, credible and differentiating. The message has to be one that parents, students, teachers or therapists feel comfortable and confident about sharing.
The full name of the school is “The Swift School” and the website address is www.theswiftschool.org.
Having the “The” in the brand name is just an extra word that makes the name longer. It used to be that companies always named themselves that way, as in The Procter & Gamble Company.
But these days it just makes the name unnecessarily longer. Using the “The” takes the emphasis away from the most important word which is “Swift.”
Also in a listing or directory how do you alphabetize The Swift School? Under “T” for The or “S” for Swift? Confusing.
Having the “The” makes the site address longer and especially for the web, the shorter the better.
My suggestion is to just use Swift School as the name. Of course, this can be changed easily on most places except for perhaps the most important, the internet.
Since prospective students are usually referred by a therapist or teacher, the website is typically the first and most important place parents find out more about the school. Having a great website with an easy to remember address is an extremely important brand component.
Unfortunately, www.SwiftSchool.org is already taken by an elementary school in Bon Secour Alabama.
However, sometimes you just get lucky. www.SwiftSchool.com was still available! I couldn't believe the luck! I purchased it right away and will transfer it over to the school’s ownership.
Using a .com address has many advantages. Dot com is the gold standard domain for the internet. Dot org is typically used by non-profits, so it would be good choice as well, but since it is taken it is not an option.
And if you take the “The” out of the name (which I really think they should) you really need to take it out of the website address. Inconsistency will lead to confusion.
Of course, what is wonderful about the web, it that you can own multiple addresses and point them all to one site. All the www.TheSwiftSchool.org traffic can simply be sent to the new site www.SwiftSchool.com. Nobody will get lost or confused.
A new position for the Swift School
The Swift School uses specific teaching methods with small class sizes to help dyslexics succeed. The key words to focus on are dyslexia and success. These are what set it apart from other private schools, inspire hope and get people talking. Parents, teachers and therapists agree that going to the Swift School ends the struggle with dyslexia and starts kids on the road to success.
My idea for the brand message is this:
with dyslexia starts
You can see how this will lend itself to word of mouth.
“My son had trouble reading and was really struggling in school, but now he is at the Swift School. Swift is where success with dyslexia starts. He is learning how to overcome his dyslexia with specialized teaching methods. I can’t believe what a difference Swift has made in all our lives. Who knows he could the next Richard Branson or Thomas Jefferson or Albert Einstein, did you know they has dyslexia too?”
When parents get a diagnosis of dyslexia usually they panic. What can we do? What does it mean? What will people say? They worry about how the child will ever be able to succeed in school and be a success in life.
It is very comforting to parents and inspirational to children to be constantly reminded of all the successful dyslexics in the world. There are no limits to what a dyslexic child can achieve.
Dyslexics can become the President of the United Stateslike Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and John F. Kennedy. Or a scientist like Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton. Or a musician like John Lennon or Cher. Or an actor like Tom Cruise or Harrison Ford. Or an athlete like Muhammad Ali or Magic Johnson. Or a general like George S. Patten. Or an entrepreneur like Richard Branson or Steve Jobs. Or an inventor like Thomas Edison. Or even the sexiest man alive like Patrick Dempsey.
To reinforce this idea, you should line the walls of the school with the famous faces of dyslexia. That way children, teachers and parents will constantly be reminded of all their child can achieve.
What parent or student would not be impressed seeing all the images as they toured the school? It tells them that Swift believes it is OK to be dyslexic and that the school believes that great success is possible.
As Charles Revson famously said, we are not selling beauty cream we are selling “hope in a bottle.” Swift is selling hope in a school.
Swift should work hard at generating media stories about dyslexia. Media attention will help drive brand recognition and word of mouth. The goal is for Swift to become the go to place for dyslexia information.
One controversial idea centers on early intervention. The idea that if reach a child early enough in development you can actually retrain the brain and reverse the symptoms of dyslexia. In other words, “Dyslexia doesn’t have to be forever.” Getting parents to see the signs early and seek help right away is key. This idea that dyslexia doesn’t have to be forever would be very effective on the website and brochures.
You might put together a “Signs of dyslexia to look for in your pre-schooler” brochure or offer lectures and information to local pre-schools. You might find a local therapist to work with in order to develop some kind of screening test. The advantages of getting kids help early is clear. So Swift should be on the cutting edge of making this happen.
In terms of the school’s expansion, adding kindergarten seems like the first place to start. If you propose early intervention, having classes for five year-olds is key. Long-term however there is no reason Swift should not plan on being a full pre-K to 12 grade school.
As you are doing now, Swift should continue community outreach by offering seminars and speeches about dyslexia. The new website itself can offer lots of background information about dyslexia to serve as a resource for parents and prospects.
When anybody thinks dyslexia the first thing they should think of is Swift and go to www.SwiftSchool.com
Stay tuned, I'll be back with Matchstic's logo design soon. First step is the strategy then the design to reinforce it.