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Building a Brand


I had an interesting conversation with the mother of a student attending our weekly kindergarten lessons.  I was observing a new teacher who is currently in training–and doing very well.  He was teaching a weekly kindergarten lesson at our South Yamagata School and I started talking with a mother there who was watching her daughter in the same class.  I asked how things were going and she told me how her daughter had joined in April and was really enjoying the lessons.  She had joined MY because a friend had recommended us as was very happy with what she was seeing.


After talking for a while, she then asked me, “How long have you been teaching here?”  The question caught me by surprise.  During our conversation the thought that she didn’t know I’m the owner had never crossed my mind.  At first it felt strange, but then I was quite pleased.


Rather than starting our school from scratch, my wife and I purchased a school from a previous owner.  It only had one location and about 100 students then, but the previous owner had worked hard on creating a brand identity rather than building the school around himself as a teacher.  We’ve tried hard to continue building the brand, though until recently most students and parents still recognized me as owner.


When the school’s reputation is centered on its brand, rather than my personal reputation as a teacher or owner, it makes it easier for all our teachers and staff to feel a part in making the school what it is.  They are building the school’s reputation.  We are all part of something bigger than ourselves as individuals.  Adding new locations also becomes easier, as I don’t have to be at all of them in order for them to thrive.  It makes the school stronger and more valuable, because it would be more likely to survive if for some reason I could no longer be around.  If we did ever need to sell, it’s more likely someone would find value in it and it would continue to grow and improve.


I look forward to meeting more students and parents who don’t know I’m “in charge.”  More people who study with us because of MY’s reputation, a reputation built on the strength and hard work of everyone who has contributed to our growth and development.  It’s exciting to see MY grow into something much bigger than me–something I never could have created on my own.  I like that students and parents are beginning to not know who I am.

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