In recent times Design schools have developed in all major parts of the world. Indeed, design schools have moved from their original homes in the cities of Milan and Paris where fashion design started, to other major cities of the world including New York, Tokyo, Beijing, and others. Designing has developed to be a multi-billion industry and this growth has attracted a lot of students in the industry. The growth of the fashion industry has necessitated the production of professional fashion designers and design schools have come in hand to provide these professionals for this industry.
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One of the most important in fashion design school is its store. The design school store is the central point where materials and finished products are held prior to their dispatch. As such the store forms an important link between the students, their practical work, and their customers. Design school classes are more practical oriented and hence serves as an important link between the class’s work and practice. The design store ensures that the students get all the supplies needed and hence prepares the students for practical lessons.
Design school stores also serve as the display point for all the design work done by the students. Hence the store can be said to serve as an advertising point for the school. Many design schools have made big sales turnover through their design store. Indeed, these stores have served as the advertising point for the schools and also as business centers where the school is heavily contributing to the design world.
It is good to understand that the store is frequently visited by the consumers who could be students from other classes, teachers or outsides and hence the design of the store should be attractive. This comes in hand with the purpose of the store as a display center for design work. If the work is to be considered design work, it must be displayed in a designed store.
In design the store, the architectural work should be carefully considered and details paid to the design work. The arrangement of the store should be such that there is flow with less obstruction. Garrett, (2004, 55), argues that the store should put into consideration some important aspects of the display. One of the most important things to remember is that the store should create an experience not an artifact for any visitor who comes to the store.
The display should take in design works that ensure that it is captivating to the visitor to see more of the display. It is this fact that makes the store an advertising tool for the school. The visitor will feel more captivated to view more of the display if one is attracted right from the start. The store should honor context in that all displays should be in the order of how things are used. This emphasizes the need to create flow in the store in the way the displays are kept.
In the display, make sure that messages are prioritized. Messages in the store should serve as the selling point of the store which turns to be the advertising point of the school. Since the overall need of the store is to advertise the school through its design work, all the messages incorporated in the display should convince the consumers of the need to be a part of the school, going by its magnificent design work. All messages attached to the displays should be counting and appealing. Communication through messages is very vital in convincing the visitors that the school produces quality design works.
The store design should also have space to accommodate any change that may be forthcoming. Its interior design work should have space for future change in case there is a need. The store should have a variety of design materials such that in case of an urgent change in the practical work, it should have reserves of material to sustain the change. According to L’Ecuyer (2007, 5), the architectural work should be flexible enough to accommodate new designs. We should appreciate that design work is very dynamic and new design comes in place now and then. The nature of design work is that it is very innovative and hence the store should be flexible enough to go with the change.
It is clear that if the store acts as the branding and advertising center for a design school, it should also be the center to accommodate any changing atmosphere. School culture change from time to time owing to the changing nature of life and the school should be able to move with the change for the better.
The human element of those in the store is also very vital. A display store is not made of meticulously displayed work, but it is made of the people who do the display work. The human aspect of the store is very important for fostering the interpersonal relationship between the school and its customers. Those serving in the store should have a particular design in fostering the interpersonal communication aspect and they should not only be welcoming but they should also be friendly, helpful, and respectful.
Assuming that those who come in the store will be amused by the amazing design work may prove opposite of the school’s expectations. Interpersonal communication is very important in advertising the school to those who visit the store. Good communication skills will help those in the store to be able to explain cautiously all the design work in the store which increases the chances of the visitors either buying the products or becoming more interested in being part of the school community. It is good to understand that those who come in the store don’t understand the design work and they cannot get interested in the work by merely viewing the work. They need to be explained about the process of creating the designs, the use of the work, and many other aspects that are of vital importance to the work.
According to Keller et al., (1998, 52), one of the important aspects of the store is that it should be able to institute consistency. This means that it should have a brand that creates a positive impression about the school and the store in general. This means that keeping innovation as the driving force should be the guiding principle and should be entrenched as a culture in the store. This aspect ensures that the store and the school are known for a particular aspect that sets them from the rest.
The store becomes the branding center of the school and also serves as the advertising center only when it institutes a certain culture or a competitive differential point that sets it above the other players in the industry. Let us examine closely the culture of branding the school and the role that the design school store can play in creating a differential point for the school.
School Branding and advertising
The concept of branding is becoming useful in the world business cycle. Everybody has recognized the power of branding and the effects it has on customer’s perception and the market power that comes along with famous brands. Powerful brands build strong and consistent images which creates a lasting impression on the mind of the consumers. The concept of branding has been welcomed in the business cycle and in many instances, a business is paying millions of dollars in order to have the right to use a certain brand name that has created a lasting impression in the mind of the consumers.
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School branding is a cycle or a process through which a school adapts to the existing market changes. According to Coomber (2005), the concept of branding is very vital for any school in creating a good name. This helps the school to form high-quality educational systems which incorporate core competencies resulting in a certain image of the school which is displayed in the products of the school. School branding is a function of design work that is aimed at creating a particular image that the school community has to be associated with.
In the education cycle, the concept of branding has already started creating an impact on the net-worthiness of an institution. It has started creating an influence over the perception of a certain school or school system. Brand building helps to create an identity for the school and its programs which becomes the selling point of the school. Many parents want their children to access education in schools with a good reputation. Some learning institutions like Harvard University, Oxford University, and others have created a lasting impression on the mind of the public and they are courted prestigious which is a perception created by the brand name.
Branding in school should be geared towards achieving a point of competitive differentiation. The concept of competitive differential should always be contrasted with that of outright competition. According to Richardson et al., (1994, 29), the concept of competitive differentiation is pegged on the creation of service or quality that is perceived more unique to the rest and which cuts a market segment on its own.
It just focuses on providing services to a particular group of people in a more effective manner than other schools providing the same services. In a field that is becoming more and more competitive, branding is an important and useful concept that helps to keep the school above the rest in the market. It enables a school to defend its position without necessarily spending too much on competitive strategies. Smith and Park (1999, 304), argue that effective branding becomes the selling point of a school not only in its area of operation but also in other areas where it does not serve.
In the modern competitive world, a school is better off being different from others than being perceived as better than others. The concept of being better can be overturned at any time through a single mistake. This will have a devastating effect on the name of the school and may consequently affect its performance. The concept of competition in providing education services is still not very much acceptable in the education cycle since the industry is not yet perceived as a full business. It is much easier for a school to create a competitive edge through the use of distinct messages or propositions that are appealing to consumers than always portray the school as superior to others. A design school will not be judge by the number of advertisements portraying the superiority of the school but rather by the design work it produces.
We have said that branding a school requires it to create some areas of differentiation. There are many areas in which a school car focuses on achieving this differentiation. A school can create a differential point by the way it serves the workers who are the teaching staff. Perhaps this is one of the most important points in which a school can appear different from others. If staff is handled in a different manner, they, in turn, translate this to the students which finally results in the superior performance of the students. School performance still remains the best way to brand school since it portrays the school as not only superior to the others but also different from others. Schools which perform the best are always a famous brand with the people and everybody wants to be associated with them due to their perceived prestige.
A school can also brand itself in a peculiar way that sets it above the rest. The dressing code of a school is another aspect that sets a school from the rest. Design schools are known the world over for their appealing school uniforms and game kits. Their school stores are known to hold amazing designs that make the schools appear different from others. School design is an important aspect in creating a competitive differential point. A design of school uniforms and game kits makes a remarkable impression on anybody who spots students from that school. It serves as the advertising point of the school.
The concept of branding and advertising a school can intermarry as the two utilizes the same aspects. The only difference is that advertising is more of making a public appeal through designed efforts and which are directly aimed at ensuring that the public becomes aware of the existence of the school. According to Chaudhuri and Holbrook (2001, 90), branding is an expressive way of advertising which is not meant to create a direct impression to the public but which creates a subconscious impression about the school.
School branding is a consulted effort of both the administration and the student body. Both parties have a part to play in portraying the school as an alternative to the rest. The administration does so by ensuring an atmosphere where all the above-mentioned activities take place. They guide all the activities in the school. The students play their part by portraying a good image of the school or by acting as good ambassadors of the school.
Through the way they behave, the clothes they wear, their mannerisms, the way they relate to the rest, and in many other simple but very vital ways. Branding has a positive effect on the students as makes them feel proud of their schools. Students are affected in a way some of them may be forced to act out of their normal characters in order to portray the perceived competitive differential of the institution.
The concept of the competitive differential is very much entrenched in a school’s culture. School culture is the one that advertisers and brands the school. It has been showing that under normal circumstances, there are schools that perform well for a long time. This has been studied as one aspect of school culture. There are other schools that perform badly no matter how much effort is put into raising the school performance. Although this is a recipe with many ingredients, some of them are culturally embedded and are difficult to change.
The concept of branding a school is a recipe made of school attributes or consumer attributes that are associated with the school. It is also so much embedded in those tangible and intangible benefits that a student perceives will have at the end of attending the school. If one sees no positive benefits of attending a school, their probability to have the school as their choice is very minimal. Branding of a school can be also done in terms of values.
The value can be in terms of either money or time that will be spent in the school and their perceived value compared to the in another school. It is usual that schools that are rated high always are attributed with value in terms of money and time that can be spent in the school. The other aspect of branding associated with a school is personality. This refers to some positive or negative qualities associated with the school such as the school atmosphere and which are difficult for other schools to have. It is the perceived atmosphere in a school that set is far above the rest beyond the competitive edge.
The aspect of branding a school also has positive effects on consumers who are students and parents. It is good to understand that branding strategy is also an advertising strategy and a marketing strategy. Branding has a functional appeal and an emotional appeal to the consumers. Functionally, the brand stands for standards not easy to be achieved by others. In the functional appeal of branding a school, it should provide ready information about the school to the consumers. The information incorporates with it the advertising aspect which keeps portrays the school not only as superior to others but also as an alternative to others.
It should be able to convince the consumers without much strain. This involves portraying all the positive aspects of the school in a clear manner. In the emotional and moral appeal of branding, it should clearly define the school in the same way it should design the consumers. It should try to create a relationship between the two. The consumers who are the parents, teachers and the students should be linked to the school. This is what we talked about creating an appealing design for the school. The school uniforms and other aspects which are outwardly portrayed to others should be easily associated with the school. This is the design work of the school.
The school store can go a long way in advertising the school to outsiders. The store can create a culture that the school will be identified with. Take for example a design school that comes up with a very successful design work that is liked by many people. That can act as a breaking point of the school brand. The school will always be associated with the brand and everybody will like to be associated with the school since it is seen as a success in relation to others due to its famous design work. This is just an example of how design a school store can be important in creating a positive image of the school since it acts as the main mediator between the school and its environment.
It is rare that many individuals will come to a design school to enquire about the work of the school. But if the school has a design store, many people can access the school and learn more about the school through the store. We have seen that branding of the school is all about creating a competitive differential above others which will set the school away from the rest. As such it is good for the school to consider its design store as being pivotal in creating this competitive differential.
If the school design store has to be a center linking the school and the surrounding environment, it should be situated in a good position that is accessible by all. It is good sometimes for the school to have more than one display store. This will go in line with the marketing rule stating that the more people see your product, the more they are like to buy. It means the school has to display its product to as many people as possible as a method of direct advertising the school. It is good if the school can consider having the store in major urban places but which distinctively have messages which display that the store exclusively contains work from the school.
As we mentioned earlier, design work is very dynamic. Hence it is important that the school keeps to the challenge by placing the store in areas where it is in contact with other designers and where the students can be challenged by design work from other quarters. After all, the aim of having a school store is to create a competitive differential about the school. To achieve this differential point, the school must be always above the rest in terms of design work.
We have seen that branding creates a positive attitude of the students and the customers towards a school. This makes the customers have a creating attitude towards the school that is different from the attitude a customer holds about other schools. Branding is important because it has positive effects not only on the performance of the school but also on the enrollment of the school. Every student would like to go to a famous design school. However, it is also good to note that branding may have a lasting negative effect on the school. A little mistake may create a very bad image about the school which may undo its fame.
Hence the concept of branding should be taken seriously as a method of advertising the school. It is good for the management to use the possible means to brand the school by creating a positive image of the school. In a design school, both students and the management should realize the importance of branding their design work which should be displayed in the store as a method of advertising the school to the outsides.
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