School spirit is a term you might not hear in the marketing team that often, but it may have more to do with the power of your education branding than you’d think. 

There’s been some research done into the impact of “school spirit” on student performance and wellbeing.

In this study, the results showed that school spirit correlates with positive outcomes for students.

Here’s the summary of the results:

Students with school spirit do more than show support for their school. They perform better academically, are more socially and civically engaged, and are happier in general than their less-spirited peers. What’s more, the majority of principals (92%) feel that high school spirit is tied to high student achievement.

Without a doubt, cultivating a connection with students through a shared sense of community – school spirit – is critical for student engagement. 

What exactly is school spirit?

School spirit is hard to describe. But this article gives us a good start: “School spirit involves a strong emotional connection with school…”

That strong emotional connection “creates a positive learning environment for both students and teachers.” 

For me, school spirit is that sense of community that a student feels. 

It happens when the student feels that they’re home when they’re on campus or in class. It’s the feeling that they have found their tribe.

This is a powerful human emotion. 

All of us can feel at times very alone in this world. At a gut level, we want to know where the people are that are like us and who will accept us into the tribe.

But how does school spirit work in education branding?

Institutions create school spirit much like a tribe creates its unique tribal culture.

There are initiation rites such as orientation week activities on campus.

Throughout the year, schools often plan fun events that promote relationship-building among staff and faculty, like this campus run put on by a private college in Australia.

Some private colleges and universities crank up the school spirit through their athletic programs.

For example, Indiana Wesleyan University’s inaugural football game is a big deal for their sense of school spirit and community.

And at every one  of these important community events, you’re going to see education branding everywhere.

Everything from T-shirts to banners to body painting is going to include some form or representation of your school’s brand.

School spirit and education branding go hand in hand.

Another element of school spirit that really ties into education branding is your school’s mascot. 

Of course, the traditional mascot, like Purdue’s athletic mascot Pete, is a great way to create an emotional connection between students and your school.

In this video, we can see how “Purdue Pete” is the living embodiment of the university’s education branding.

These fun and wacky mascots help students to feel affection for the brand because they personalize it, making a stuffy institutional idea into a humorous, winsome character.

One mascot program that always gets my attention is Butler University’s live mascot program.

In this image, I got to meet Blue, the star of Butler U's marketing mascot program and see how they use their live mascot to create school spirit and strengthen their education branding..

Blue is instrumental in helping Butler create a sense of community by welcoming incoming students – and their pets! – to the Butler family. 

For more on how Butler uses their live mascot program for education marketing, branding, and creating school spirit, check out my podcast conversation with Butler’s Kristi Lafree.

Campus events, branding elements, and mascots are all ways to create school spirit, but they’re also ways to craft your education branding to cultivate new prospective students.

Education marketing should promote your school spirit to prospective students.

You’re not just selling academic programs and degrees.

I believe education marketing is about selling the whole college experience – and that means helping your prospective student audience to find their tribe at your school.

By including your mascots, campus events, and of course, your branding elements in your messaging, you are promoting your school’s unique culture and values

In other words, you’re showing off your tribe’s cultural identity markers.

And that will help attract the right students to your admissions program as they self-identify with your education branding.

“Hey, that’s my tribe! I want to be there. It feels like home.”

For more help on getting more prospective students to self-identify with your educational branding, please contact us today.


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