High school students on gym floor

SUPERINTENDENT NOTE: Wrestling calves with the smell of burnt hair and hide swirling around your face in the form of white smoke draws up images of my early experiences with branding. It was a rancher's invitation to me to help leave a permanent mark on the stock he nurtured and cared for. It was an honor to be asked to a branding and privilege to participate in the event. I have been fortunate to have attended many.

In an educational organization like Colstrip Public Schools, branding is a much different process, although the intention is the same. Like a rancher, we hope to leave a strategic mark on those we care for. In addition, we invite a lot of people to participate in getting the job done. The more people involved the better. A rancher uses a hot iron, while our school district uses tools like the one pictured to the right. Let me explain:

Branding in an organization is not marketing. Marketing an organization is tactical, while branding has a strategic outcome. Developing organizational brand creates an image or expectation of action. A well developed brand provides an image that lasts over time. School districts utilize brands to set high expectations and standards for students and stakeholders. This year, many of our school district's initiatives will be presented through our website, the social media as well as on digital signs that will be located in the lobbies of each building. These tools are our hot irons.

Digital signage is certainly a valuable "hot iron" that expands our communication venue.  We hope it leaves a lasting mark.

Through technology and the use of mantras and initiatives, the district hopes to elevate student outcomes. "Make dust or eat dust" is a good example of our branding. It is the "carpe diem" of the Colts and Fillies drawing on images of running equine. It is a call to action; to seize the moment and make the best of every situation by taking the lead or the initiative. It is by such bold actions that we hope to change, grow and live life to its fullest. "Make dust or eat dust" is a statement as well as a question that asks: What will you do? It is also asks: What have you done?

Branding leaves a mark that identifies the individual as well as organization. At Colstrip Public Schools we want to challenge our students and educational community to be the very best. "Make dust or eat dust" is just one example of branding that sets a challenge before us.

At Colstrip Public Schools, we are out in the lead and it is our intent to stay there!



"Get out in front and stay there!"