In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s yearbook season for many schools and in my line of work I get to see some amazing school yearbooks and annuals that really convey the essence of a school and its brand. Of course I’ve also seen some shockers in my time. Successful yearbooks tell your brand story through experiences and celebrate the successes and achievements of your school and its students. They reveal the assets and strengths of your brand and validate a parent’s decision to place their trust in you. So how do you take your school’s yearbook from simply being an archival record to something more meaningful?
Here’s our top tips to nail this year’s yearbook:
- Relevance: A yearbook is your opportunity to speak directly to your school community. So before you start planning next year’s yearbook, find out what students and parents want to see. What information is important? What matters to them; what worked well in previous yearbooks (and what didn’t)? What were the major achievements in your school throughout the year, what is the plan for next year? Tip: Talk to parents and students after the yearbook is distributed and find out which sections are the most popular.
- Storytelling: Tell the stories that matter. Look for ways to humanise and bring meaning to what you do through the copy. For schools, students can be your best brand ambassadors, so make use of quotes and testimonials for giving real insight into life at your school. Student and teacher reflections and explanations of the ‘learning journey’ that has occurred are effective ways of telling stories.
- Key messages: Choosing a central theme for the yearbook to ‘hang’ key messages off is a useful way to consistently reinforce messages and keep the information digestible. Key messages are usually expressed as a hierarchical list of short, succinct, core ideas about your school. The key messages keep you ‘on message’ whenever you need to write about your school. This is particularly useful if there will be multiple people contributing copy to the yearbook.
- Speaking with one voice: Ensuring consistency across your brand and communications is crucial in nailing a yearbook. From a copywriting perspective, significant time will need to be spent to ensure a consistent tone is being used and the yearbook is written in one voice. We call this ‘speaking with one voice’. Again, if there are multiple people contributing content to the yearbook, assigning one person to be responsible for proofreading and ensuring consistent, on-brand messaging is an important step. Other pitfalls to look out for include: making sure abbreviations, dates, titles and headings are consistent, avoiding the overuse of acronyms and ensuring all copy is written from the same perspective — usually the third person. Visually, ensure that your school’s brand is being represented correctly throughout the report, including consistent and correct use of logos, fonts, font sizes, colours and imagery.
- Design and presentation: Again, think about your audience and how you can present a year’s worth of learning and achievement in a succinct and engaging way? Descriptive headings, infographics where relevant, pull quotes, breakout boxes, ‘at a glance’ summaries, quality professional imagery that adds to the story, and white space to avoid clutter, will combine to create a quality yearbook. A final word on imagery, nothing devalues a yearbook quicker than poor quality imagery. Adopt a quality over quantity rule for photos to keep the production value of your school’s yearbook high.
The best yearbooks unite a school community, generate an emotional response and leave an enduring brand impression.
No one reading your school’s yearbook? Download our free e-book and learn how to:
- Tell a story
- Communicate key messages
- Reveal the strengths of your school’s brand
- Build credibility
This blog was written by Suzanne Wilcock
Suzanne Willcock is a Senior Account Manager for imageseven. She is a professional services and education marketing specialist who happens to love copywriting and blogging. She is also particularly fond of interior design magazines and home renovation shows.