Do first impressions really count? Well, they definitely do when it comes to school and college prospectuses.
The Colour & The Size
The size and the shape of your prospectus, the front cover photograph, the layout, the colour use, the ethos conveyed, the paper’s texture between finger and thumb, the weight of it…
Goodness, would it be best to just leave the entire school prospectus design and print process to your Psychology Department, and hope for the best? Whether or not parents and children are consciously aware of it, all the aforementioned elements of your school prospectus will shape their first impression of your school; and if they are in any way put off, they may not even turn the front page. And you don’t want that.
School Spirit & Appearance
The main objective of your brochure should be to capture your school’s spirit. Yes it needs to look professional and instantly impressive, with informative content in a colourful, friendly, positive and welcoming manner. But over and above everything else, it needs to be an extension of the school itself.
Before you even start, you may need to consider hiring a photographer to capture the school at work, rest and play. School prospectuses without pictures of the pupils just aren’t good enough these days. If you were in any other industry you wouldn’t even think about trying to sell something without a picture of it. Well pupils are the product of the school and should be its ambassadors on the front cover of its prospectus and on every page within.
Font & Style
The font is a difficult decision to make for many schools. Particularly junior or pre-prep schools may be used to producing most of their newsletters and take-home information in very simple, clean and easily readable fonts that often mimic actual handwriting. Whilst you don’t want to use anything that’s overly fussy, this may be a time when a document should actually be produced with the parents in mind. Think about how companies go about putting together their annual reports and look for inspiration from other, more formal, business literature too.
Consider the different departments and sections you need to include but don’t write by committee. The prospectus needs to read seamlessly and that won’t be achieved by lots of different authors.
Also spend some time analysing the best way to compile your prospectus. Just because you’ve always had the content in one particular order, doesn’t mean it has to stay like that. What are the school’s strongest features – that’s probably the best starting point.
Do you need a welcome or forward from the headmaster or mistress on the inside cover and have you thought about getting pupils involved? It’s quite a nice touch to include some quotes, drawings or writing from the children themselves.
Your committee of willing helpers will be very useful at the proofreading stage. If there is one thing that is going to put a parent off sending their offspring to you, it’s a typo or errant apostrophe.
School prospectuses have come a long way since the days of quills, ink pots and parchment all combining to make a one-sided, floridly written (and thoroughly off-putting) invitation to ‘visit the school for viewing at an appointed time’. However, we do still see the odd one fly off the presses here, which probably hasn’t been revitalised or reinvented since we were at school! Make sure it isn’t yours!