I’m not a reality show fan, but one that I do like is CNBC’s The Profit. If you haven’t seen it, Marcus Lemonis, a highly successful and affluent entrepreneur, offers to buy a significant stake in struggling businesses in return for his no-nonsense turnaround and management expertise. While business owners are eager to accept Marcus’s cash, the dynamism of the show hinges on their willingness to comply with the substantive organizational changes that Marcus demands. 


Each business on the show is assessed according to Marcus’s three fundamental P’s: Product, People, and Process.  Of the three, Marcus rightly sees “people” as the most essential component, echoing Jim Collin’s (Good to Great) notion that good companies evolve into great ones by first getting the right people on board and in the right seats.  Almost inevitably, Marcus identifies and moves to fix the people issues that are often the root cause of a company’s troubles.


So, how useful is this 3-P’s construct in building a formidable, enduring school brand?  Somewhat, but we recommend a different 3-P’s formulation that takes Marcus’s model, and your brand, to another level.




Even without defining it, you know brand power when you see it.  It’s a magnetic quality, embodied in the school that consistently captivates the market, always growing, evolving, and deepening its association with high value.  It’s the school that vibrantly conveys and celebrates its unique mission and vision, imbuing its community and culture with purpose, energy, and pride. The institution that actively works to attract, engage, and enroll “best-fit” employees, students, families, donors, and friends – those eager and able to contribute to and benefit from the school’s distinct character, vision, and value.


In our decades of work helping schools achieve brand power, we’ve identified three essential brand building blocks: 




PROMISE: It’s More Than a Mission.  At these schools, branding isn’t a campaign; it’s a way of life.  They know why they exist and why they matter, and they convey and deliver that distinct value consistently and boldly.  They know what’s meaningful and relevant to their stakeholders and they use their brand promise to help shape distinctive, brand-centric programs and experiences.

PASSION: They’re In It to Win It.  Visit a school with brand power and you sense it almost immediately.  A visceral energy, a dynamic restlessness, a passionate commitment to purpose.  This is the magic of a passionate, brand-centric culture, where leadership, faculty, staff, and students work energetically and collaboratively to fulfill the mission and promise of the school.  Here, tomorrow always represents the next opportunity, the next life to impact and transform.  Inspired to fulfill a vibrant school promise of value, employees are empowered to innovate, create, and actively engage opportunities.

PERFORMANCE: They Walk the Talk.  Schools with brand power are outcome-focused, driven to ensure that their promise of value is demonstrably delivered. Here, you won’t find hollow claims of excellence.  Rather, these schools set high, measurable performance standards that show how well they deliver on their brand, their return of value.  They make improvements where needed and leverage their successes to reinforce internally and externally the impact of their efforts.


Building and sustaining a vibrant, magnetic, enduring school brand isn’t easy. But it is achievable for all schools that seriously embrace the three essential 3-P’s of brand power:  Promise, Passion, and PerformanceIn my next post, I’ll share some examples of schools that have used these three essential building blocks to shape brands of enduring power.