Coming from the experts who are knowledgeable, skilled and trusted in their fields, this book is a must read for all stakeholders in educational institutions, particularly those involved in setting up and running a school. The book comes with a simple cover but the title highlights the key aspects of the book in bold and clear font. It is an engaging read about the how and why of the school system from those who know it better than anyone else which serves as reason enough to read this book. As a work of non-fiction, this book brings the anecdotes from real life experiences to the forefront from which managing directors, funding agencies and stakeholders of schools can take a lot of ideas and expert advice. However, the book is not solely didactic but rather persuasive in the manner in which it provides new ideas to instil in the reader a love for the school system, to understand the needs and requirements of setting up a fully functional and successful school in today’s India. This is where the concept of marketing comes into play.
The Rise Insight: First of all, congratulations for the launch of the book. Would like to know why did you both decide to co-author this book?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: Well since we know each other for over a decade and have been working together on so many projects, it was but natural to put together our learnings and share it for the benefit of the Edu community. When we joined the education industry way back in 2011, we struggled to quickly come up with the most efficient model for building a school brand. Unfortunately, we did not find any reading material and had to learn everything by experimenting and learning from our and other’s journey as no one has ever written on the subject. It was at that time we thought that once our learning grows we will share it with the larger community and then decided that there is no better way and putting it all together in a book and share it with the world.
The Rise Insight: How difficult was it to write this debut book?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: We have been writing articles, blogs in past so putting down our thoughts was not a challenge but the biggest challenge was taking out time to think, structure and then flesh out the thoughts so that it’s an interesting and an easy read. But when you are driven by the desire to share with the community your experience so that they benefit and build stronger school brands, everything else falls in place. We dug into our experience and researched a lot and have put together many anecdotes, case studies, tips and toolkit so that the reader can quickly internalise the model.
The Rise Insight: What are the ideals of a good branding strategy according to you?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: A good branding strategy is all about your purpose of existence, the problem you solve in consumer’s life. Consumers don’t connect with what you do; they connect with the reason why you do it. They want to understand how you do it differently and add real value in their lives. The idea is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have, but to do with people who believe in what you believe in. Branding strategy should help you define that!!
The Rise Insight: Why do you think that school branding is important today?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: With parents becoming more discerning, they want to give their kids the best of education and want to connect with brands that deliver what they promise and help their kids achieve what they aspire to be. Stronger branding helps school create trust, gets them to scale up faster and help recruit the best of faculty in the town.
The Rise Insight: What makes your book unique in the non-fiction genre?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: Education is the single biggest gift that one can give to the other generation but unfortunately there are few authors who have written on the subject and particularly on building up of school brands. The book gives an already tested model which would help schools build stronger brand and achieve their goals efficiently.
The Rise Insight: According to you, who exactly should be involved in planning a branding strategy of a school?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: The founders and the school leadership team needs to put in place the strategy and a team to constantly execute and monitor the results. Generally, most of the schools have a shared responsibility of marketing with one of the other function heads which is why they suffer and are unable to build stronger brands efficiently. It’s high time that specific marketing teams are set up in schools to drive and monitor initiatives to build the school brand in a more methodical way.
The Rise Insight: Is running a school a good investment in today’s market according to you?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: There are a lot of challenges that the industry faces. However, the sheer joy of imparting the best gift to humanity and seeing joyful recipients of education the kids around alone makes it a phenomenal investment any day. Leaving aside measurement in terms of joy, financially running a school is a great investment if you build your brand the right way.
The Rise Insight: What are the other books that you are working on?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: Well the aspiration is to write a trilogy covering another 2 sectors that we have experience with. The work has commenced on the second book however let’s give that a little more time before we speak about it.
The Rise Insight: What will be the catch phrase or tagline of your brand of school?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: “Building Future.”
The Rise Insight: According to you, how educated is the Indian population today about branding their business?
Rakesh Gupta/ Sumit Handa: Indian business community is phenomenal with their understanding of building business profitably. Very few unfortunately are able to scale up to an extent where the company brand goes beyond their own personal brand. Investment in company branding is where the gap becomes huge from what is required and that’s where the businesses suffer.