How your school can stand out with a custom branded app
You've seen other school leaders boasting about them: a branded app that proudly displays their school's logo and branding.
But do they achieve anything other than just looking good?
Apps are part of our everyday lives.
By ‘our’, we’re referring to an enormous proportion of the 68 million+ UK population in 2021. Recent research carried out by leading market and consumer data provider Statista says:
“The smartphone penetration rate in the United Kingdom has increased each year, reaching an overall figure of 92 percent in 2021.”
That’s a supersized bulk of us tapping apps. If it needs spelling out why a school app is important, this stat alone is enough.
But let’s take a closer look at the multiple benefits of having your own school app.
What are the key benefits of a basic school app?
A standard school app should do the following:
Enable collaboration with parents to manage attendance
With a school app linked to your MIS (management information system), parents can access the attendance records of their children. It’s an effective way for them to spot truancy or other issues.
Facilitate online bookings
No more paper slips to sign and return, or emails about after school activities and school trips. Parents can book them with a click of a button on your school app.
Provide parents with an online payment option
Online cashless payment ticks numerous boxes. It’s safer than cash. It’s more hygienic than cash. And it’s much quicker and easier for parents to pay online instantly for trips, lunches, PE kits, etc.
It’s free to send messages to parents via your school app, eliminating the need for text messaging.
Support your carbon-neutral targets
Long gone are the days of teachers doling out photocopied letters for students to take home to their parents. Even school reports can be sent to parents confidentially on your app. No paper. No printing. Less unnecessary carbon consumption.
Allow you to keep parents up to date
Whether it's the latest news about student activities, or ensuring families don't forget the next 'dress up as your favourite book character' day, an app allows you to easily send important messages.
This is all great. But, how about taking it up a notch and branding your school app?
How is a custom-branded school app even better?
HMC Architects sum up the importance of a school brand nicely:
“It contains many components including, but not limited to, a logo, mascot, colour(s), typography…it offers the community the opportunity to connect with the campus in a more direct way and provides an emotional connection that sets a school apart from other schools. A brand also allows the school leadership, staff, parents, and students to feel like they are part of something bigger—creating a sense of ownership and community for the campus.”
That’s a whole lot of love to generate and harness. Your school app is the key brand booster to help you do so.
Every time key stakeholders tap your school app, they’ll be reminded of your brand, your logo and your ethos - plus anything else you want to highlight because personalisation is the name of the game here!
Your app, your way!Your school or trust logo becomes the icon and name for your app, available for everyone to see in the App Store or Google Play - as opposed to the icon of an edtech company. Not only does it reinforce your branding but it makes it even easier for parents to find and download your app.
Once they have downloaded it you can ensure that it stays true to your school by choosing colours that tie in with your brand; but, more importantly, that your main menu features all of the sections relevant to your community. For instance, you might want a section for your PTA/Friends group or a particular system you use in school.
Your school is unique, so why isn't your app?
You know what makes your school special, so why not make that clear to everyone else in the world? You put all that hard work into developing your ethos, your values and your identity; creating a custom branded app means you can take this a step further.
So every time a parent (or student) logs in, your school motto can appear.
You could even have a dedicated section in your app that brings together all those important documents that you want parents to be aware of: your home-school agreement, the values of the school, expectations about uniform and behaviour.
Or, if you want a lighter touch, why not share a weekly photo of students who have embodied your core values?
Big companies spend millions on branding. It's something hard to quantify but they know it works. You could ensure that every time a parent engages with your app, it supports your brand and helps them feel part of your school community.
Can your app compete for parents' attention in a crowded, tech-heavy world?
An app named after your school and using your school branding is one thing - but what happens when the parent uses the app? Can it complete with the tech giants and keep them engaged? Or is it just a glorified email system?
The last thing you want is for your parents to download your school app and then forget about it - or worse still, delete it from their mobile phone! But it does happen, especially when you have the likes of Facebook and Instagram competing for their attention.
A good custom branded app will have the equivalent of a 'safe social media' style newsfeed. One where you can easily add images, videos and links - and allows users to scroll through and 'consume' the news in the same way as they would on a social media feed.
The big difference though is that you control who sees your posts. You can target by class and year group, so that only those parents who need to see, for example, pictures of the school trip abroad, have access to them.
You can even decide if parents can comment - plus you have the option to pre-approve posts before they are published.
All in all, it ensures the need for safeguarding, confidentiality and 'avoiding washing your dirty linen in public' is maintained!
Can you bring all your other systems into one app?
Schools can have a lot of systems on the go - and that means lots of logins to remember, passwords to forget and irate parents to deal with. But did you know that at Weduc we don't insist that you use our payments system, or our home learning system, our meal booking system or our parents' evening system?
We appreciate that sometimes you have your favourites, so we have created a special area in our app called 'the hub' where you can include all your other systems.
How can a custom-branded app work for schools within a multi-academy trust?
We provide two options for trusts. Firstly, you could just have a custom-branded app for every school but, if you're a big trust, that may prove too costly. Secondly, we can create a custom-branded trust app, with each school within it. Parents would only see the schools that they have children at but your administrators get an overview of all the schools.
Are custom-branded apps just for independent schools?
No! Although they are popular in independent schools (as they provide a great shopfront to show parents just what they get for their fees), we are finding an increasing number of state schools, both secondary and primary, are creating their own custom-branded apps.
Want to find out more?
At Weduc, our top-of-the-range communications platform for schools comes with an app. However, it’s well worth paying a little more if you can for a school app that’s fully branded.
There are even options to sync your app's communications with your website and social media channels.
Click here if you’d like to arrange an initial chat with one of our friendly and professional representatives.
Or just pick up the phone and call us right away on 01509 221 349.
Or take a look at our webpage about our custom branded apps.