Don’t Think You Need to Brand Your School? Think Again

Quick. Name India’s most valued and trusted brand.

Since its inception in 1858, the Tata Group has established itself as India’s most valuable brand across independent surveys by Interbrand and Brand Finance. It is virtually impossible to spend a day without being exposed to ads or messages from a Tata Group company. Be it Jaguar, Land Rover, Taj Hotels, Titan, Fastrack, Tanishq, Tata Sky or its many other brands, Tata is everywhere.

What’s fascinating, however, is that when you think of the Tata Group, the first thing that comes to mind is hardly its ads! Far from it. What comes to mind are its iconic leaders, its service to the nation and its focus on creating lasting customer value.

And THAT is what a great brand is all about – offering unique, sustained value, while being savvy enough to focus on growing its business.

Where do you stand?

For years, Indian schools have occupied one of two stances:
Confident of their heritage, and resultantly, not too eager to build their brand
Aggressive in publicizing themselves and expanding rapidly

Which stance is right?

Here’s the good news. It’s not about one stance vs. the other. It’s about combining the two – one where you constantly enhance value to the student AND communicate that value to the wider world. Because that’s what a great brand is all about – unique value.

It’s also what a brand is defined as – “a name, term, design, symbol or other feature that distinguishes an organization or product from its rivals in the eyes of the customer.”

So, if you’re confident that you’re adding great value to a student, communicate that value and let people know. Don’t leave it to them to create their own perceptions! And if you’re focused on growing your business, invest as much (or more) in creating student value as you do in branding your school.

Why branding matters more than ever

Because there are many more schools today: A couple of decades ago, each city had but a handful of schools. For a parent, decision-making was easy. Today, with incomes rising and parents willing to invest more on a good education, many more schools have sprung up (anywhere between 1.5 million and 2 million schools across India). Each school has its own loyal fans. These fans air their views on social media. The schools themselves advertise extensively. The end result – parents are more confused than ever. The best way to get noticed – communicating your unique value to parents.

Because parents have differing priorities: Earlier, the only benchmark for a good school was academic results. Today, priorities vary – good environment, all-round development, global exposure, good teachers, child safety and others. By identifying and communicating your school’s unique value, you appeal directly to parents who are looking for precisely what you have to offer. This helps attract more like-minded parents, create your desired culture more confidently and create strong word-of-mouth buzz.

Because today, transparency = credibility: At one time, being low-profile was seen as a positive attribute. Not anymore. In the age of social media, people tend to equate transparency with credibility (“If you’re out there and communicating confidently, you must be good”). Today, parents expect their child’s school to communicate with them regularly and in detail. Schools investing in strategic branding get talked about a lot more, receive more applications and can charge more. So, go out there and communicate your value confidently!

Because you want to be part of India’s education boom: The period 2016-2025 is being touted as India’s decade. With a young, upwardly-mobile, increasingly-urban population, the demand for good school education is only set to grow. So, if you’re currently nurturing, say, 3000 young minds, why not nurture several more? To enable any stable expansion, you need a steady pipeline of prospects (students in this case) – and that’s where strategic brand-building comes in.

Because branding is just the swiss knife you need: Beyond admissions and business expansion, you have other needs – hiring the right talent, associating with social causes, communicating with investors. A robust brand can help achieve all these objectives by fine-tuning your message, and communicating with diverse stakeholders in the language they understand.

Go ahead. Think brand. And remember that a great brand – first and foremost – is about the brand experience. Make sure your fundamentals are in place, define your brand and invest in your school’s future!

How to Conquer the Labor Day Car Sales

A lot of people see Labor Day as the last celebration of the summer and have family barbecues, pool parties, beach days, and more. However, some get most excited about all of the deals going on!

Sales are all over the place, including car dealerships. People really enjoy taking advantage of the massive car savings which is evidenced by the huge crowds in the lots and show rooms. this means that if you plan on buying a car at that time, you must be prepared.

Here are a few tips on how to handle those Labor Day car sales.

Start Early

Do your research and narrow down your list ahead of time. Search for the key components you are looking for such as price, make, model, safety features, predicted auto insurance cost, etc. Fortunately, some dealers even have some sales prior to Labor Day, so let that motivate you to get an early start on things.


Need a loan? Get it approved ahead of time. You do not want to go through a whole day of car buying and get denied on the loan. Experts recommend getting approved ahead of time especially if you do not have the greatest credit or if you plan on going through the dealer who usually has the best interest rates.

Spread It Out

The car buying process can seem overwhelming, especially if you feel like you have to do it all at once. As previously mentioned, you should do your research before even setting foot in the dealer. But, you should also test drive your prospective cars ahead of time as well. So, when it comes time to purchase you will be certain which car you would like and adequately prepared to negotiate prices.

Early or Late

When it comes time to buying a car, you probably do not want to go at the busiest times. Try to aim for going early in the morning or late at night. Some dealers even extend their hours.

Take Another Look at the Sticker

Sounds kind of ridiculous, but make sure the car at the dealer is the same one that you were looking at the day before or online. It is extremely easy to mistake different models of cars, so take another look at the sticker to be sure it is really the same one with all of the same features you desire.

Have Your Paperwork

Double check to make sure you have all of the documents you need including documents of your current car for a trade in, your license, registration, payment method, etc. Again, you do not want to go through the whole tedious process only to find out that you cannot go through with the purchase.

Be Patient

Most experienced car buyers know that it takes a pretty good chunk of time to go home with a car. On days such as Labor Day the waiting can be amplified quite a bit, so be prepared to wait and be patient.

Test Driving The Mahindra KUV100 In SA

On a trip to India In May, I drove the diesel model. After 40 km on Mumbai’s highway, it was clear to me that the high-riding hatchback could very well raise some eyebrows in the SA passenger-car market.

My first experience of the Mahindra KUV100 back in South Africa was a ‘Sunset Orange’ diesel model. It was powered by a 1.2-litre turbodiesel engine capable of a modest 57kW/190Nm. They claim the fuel consumption is 4.4l/100km but you won’t be able to accurately tell as it doesn’t have a consumption gauge.

The K6+ derivatives and above offer a six-speaker sound system with Bluetooth connectivity to the Mahindra Blue Sense app. A multi-function steering wheel and a refrigerated glove compartment are also included.

Despite its low horsepower, the three-cylinder delivered as it did in Mumbai and felt lively with loads of torque between all five gears.

The gearbox really deserves all the accolades. The shifting is solid and precise but sadly the clutch pedal is too low down on the floor. It took me a while to get used to and this is perhaps something Mahindra should reconsider.

On that note, the pedal placement of the brake and clutch are too close together. If you have small feet, you might be OK or just let your toddler drive you around.

Taking to a gravel road showed an acceptable ride but the height of the 1155kg KUV100 meant the ride was rather bumpy, especially at speed. Build quality could also be improved upon as I experienced wind noise while driving on the highway.

I wouldn’t go for the petrol model even though it also has the 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine (61kW/115Nm). It feels lethargic and nothing compared to the diesel. In first, second and third gear it really struggled like the Bulls did in Super Rugby this year.

Is the KUV worth buying?:
Mahindra claims the KUV100 competes with the Toyota Etios Cross, Renault Sandero Stepway, Suzuki Swift, Hyundai Grand i10, Chery J2, Tata Bolt and the Ford Figo. It’s a tough ask as most of these cars have great commercial value, brand loyalty, better-perceived build quality and an established dealer network.

There is one area the Mahindra KUV100 outshines the rest and that is on price. It will set you back a little under R150 000 for the entry level petrol model which comes standard with aircon, electric windows, ABS and driver/passenger airbags.

I may have been somewhat reluctant of the KUV100 but at the end of the launch I had really warmed up to the diesel model. The price, equipment level and overall driving experience left a good impression. Let’s hope the automaker ages like a fine wine and not like vinegar.

In conclusion, the diesel engine and gearbox are both more than adequate but the biggest concerns are pedal placement, clutch and wind noise. It remains to be seen whether or not South Africans will be interested in the KUV100 but it’s certainly worth a mention. Even if the Mahindra KUV100 isn’t quite your cup of tea, there is more Mahindra on the way.

Have You Ever Eaten Lotus Fruit?

For the modern Greeks, the lotus fruit is the Japanese persimmon, which looks a lot like a large, smooth, hairless peach. I’ve seen it growing in gardens in the province of Lakonia in the Peloponnese, Greece. Personally, I’m not a fan of this particular lotus fruit, it’s dry and leaves your mouth feeling as though it really needs water. It tastes a little like vanilla.

Having tasted this fruit it is hard to believe that it was this that so enthralled Odysseus and his crew of adventurers. Of course, it is reasonable to suppose that the ancient Greek hero stayed close to his homeland, but it is unlikely, given the number of years it apparently took him to get home after the Trojan war.

It is much more likely that he travelled to Asia and encountered the sacred lotus. The sacred lotus, so Homer wrote in Book 9 of the Odyssey, caused Odysseus and his followers to forget the purpose of their journey, which is why some commentators have suggested that the lotus eaters partook of the opium poppy.

However, if you have a look at the seed pods you will see they resemble those of the opium poppy. Each pod holds about 24 seeds. In Cambodia, these are valued as a very tasty snack!

The lotus plant is also valued for its medicinal properties, as it contains nuciferine and aporphine, which are morphine-like substances. This indicates that the sleep of Lethe might well be induced if the plant is ingested. No wonder Odysseus too so long to get home.

Herodotus, the Father of History, thought that the lotus eaters were inhabitants of the Libyan coastal area. However, Herodotus is not always a trustworthy source. In the ancient world eating the fruit of the lotus was believed to cause forgetfulness. Whether this was before or after Homer wrote the Odyssey is open to question.

Perhaps the lotus eaters never really existed. However, they have certainly captured the imaginations of generations. The English poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson, wrote a poem The Lotos – Eaters about them and the idea of them also captured Edith Wharton’s imagination. as can be seen in her novel, ‘The Age of Innocence’. Fans of Rick Riordan novels will doubtless recall the theme of the Lotus Eaters in his ‘Camp Half-Blood Chronicles.’

If you are curious enough to try the Greek lotus, head to the Peloponnese in autumn. I have seen the fruit still on trees in winter (no one seems to harvest it). However, you will have to ask permission to try the lotus fruit. as it is cultivated in the gardens of private homes.