Breck School
Golden Valley, MN

Context

Minnesota is a state proud of its publics— and Breck’s neighborhood boasted some of the state’s best. The result: a host of market misperceptions about the whys and hows of an independent education. In many people’s minds, the words “private school” conjured only the most generic understanding—and not a very favorable one at that. Add to this: Breck and its handful of independent competitors stacked up quite evenly on paper. The school’s closest competitor looked nearly identical, right down to their similar-sounding names.

Working within these restrictive rubrics dictated by the market, Breck struggled to be seen as the top-choice school. In fact, their efforts seemed to backfire—attracting (and sometimes disappointing) families primarily concerned with high test scores and rankings—a byproduct but not the focus of a Breck education. Simultaneously, Breck perplexed better-aligned parents and alumni with the school’s stats-first self-presentation. To further complicate matters, early learning enrollment showed a disconcerting downward trend.

Insight

Instead of competing in an uninspiring category of several, Breck needed to boldly claim its Category of One. To do this, the school would have to make a case not just for an independent, Episcopal education, but the particular merits of a Breck education, claiming its many strengths—which, with signature Minnesota reticence, the school had yet to do.

Solution

What encompasses everything that makes Breck distinctive—not just among its narrowly conceived independent school competitors, but from every school in the Twin Cities? When the CRANE team visited Breck, we didn’t experience a school focused on static rubrics, but a school in vibrant motion. We saw every community member—preschooler to senior, teacher to coach, bus driver to administrator—perpetually learning. And Breck needed a communications program that reflected the constant energy of learning present everywhere. With an unmistakably vivid visual identity that evoked warmth and complexity—inspired by the windows in the school’s beloved Chapel—along with the simple addition of two letters (re-) to a bevy of verb phrases, we infused the sense of dynamic movement into Breck’s self-presentation.

Status

In the effort to stand out as “top-choice” in an under-schooled market, Breck succeeded in gaining something even more powerful: shifting the market’s perspective on the school’s true value proposition and reenergizing its community around the school’s vision and purpose. Following a strong brand roll out—the new graphic identity began popping up everywhere from banners and water bottles to cake icing—Breck has already seen a 25% increase in applications. And within weeks of the website redesign, all web analytics improved dramatically, including a 25-point drop in homepage bounce rate.

Rather than focus on the “whats,” CRANE helped us focus on the “whys” and the “hows,” and that’s what’s helped make us distinctive.

–Edward Kim,
Head of School

The MetaMarketing Process For Breck

asking WHY

Branding Readiness Workshop

qualitative research

Review & Reflection Paper

First Principles

Promise Statement

Category of One

enrollment management consulting

board & faculty presentations

planning HOW

targeting & list acquisition for

early learning direct mail

all school direct mail

parent direct mail

whitepaper outreach strategy

advertising strategy

social media strategy

branding integration for upper school

building public launch

doing WHAT

parent mailers

web ads

print ads

radio spots

admissions giveaways

mallscapes

redesigned alumni magazine

viewbook

intro piece

philanthropy piece

philosophy piece

admissions suite

identity system

website redesign

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