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Near North Montessori Brand Strategy Update


Title: Huron Consulting Group Brand Equity Assessment Author: Karen Daugherty Last modified by: Karen Created Date: 4/30/2009 7:46:53 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Near North Montessori Brand Strategy Update

Near North MontessoriBrand Strategy Update
  • Prepared by Karen Daugherty
  • Fall, 2012

Presentation Overview
  • Summary of Observations
  • Background, Methodology and Objectives
  • NNMS Current Brand Equity
  • Overall Observations
  • Who the Brand Is (Identity)
  • What the Brand Provides (Utility)
  • NNMS Differentiation and Key Insights
  • Next Steps
  • Appendix
  • The Elementary School Decision Process
  • A Quick Look at Competition
  • Benefit Hierarchies Emotionally Connecting with
    our Targets
  • Teachers Perceptions of the NNMS Brand
  • A recap of Non-Brand Issues

Overall Brand Equity Observations
  • Near North possess strong brand equity,
    differentiated by its educational philosophy,
  • and community, resulting in
  • A strong reputation (external realization of
  • High level of emotional benefits/strong
    connection to Near North (internal realization of
  • A non-traditional educational philosophy
    (Montessori) is part and parcel of what makes
    NNMS unique
  • Interestingly, for a growing segment of the
    parents, Montessori per se is not a driver, it is
    the established Near North brand
  • It requires significant ongoing parent education
    efforts on part of school
  • Ongoing opportunity Demonstrate how Montessori
    is education for the 21st century and beyond
  • Culture is the embodiment of Near Norths warm,
    down-to-earth personality, its commitment to
    diversity and its alignment around the value of
    educating a raising a grounded, well-balanced
    child that can come into his/her best self
  • Community is driven by the sense of common
    purpose and a perception of similar shared values
    (see above) amongst its members
  • Preserving culture/community is high desired
    priority/desire despite challenges that begin to
    alter it (economic, growth stability, evolving

Overall Brand Equity Observations
  • Through the significant emotional benefits it
    provides both its students and parents (as well
    as teachers), the brand forges a very strong
    connection with its community over time
  • Near North has very strong emotional benefits and
    rich imagery that can be reinforced and played
    back in our recruiting and development
  • Both the student and parents benefit highly from
    the association
  • Student benefits well-articulated in Portrait of
    a Graduate
  • May be useful to think of similar manifesto for
    the parents
  • Biggest brand opportunities are two-fold
  • Demonstrating why Near North and the Montessori
    philosophy is the right educational choice to
    prepare children for academic and emotional
    success now and in the future
  • Clearly communicating our proposition so that
    families who are the best fit with the
    culture/community continue to seek out and select
    Near North as the best choice for their family
  • Be vigilant against tensions that undermine key
    brand drivers of culture/community (lack of
    understanding/commitment to philosophy, economic
    constraints that impact mix of families that can
    attend NNMS)

Near Norths Branding Project
This branding initiative was undertaken to
complement the strategic planning work of the
NNMS Board. Ultimately, the brand positioning
should help guide and support the overall
strategic direction of the school.
  • The goals of this initiative include
  • Discover what NNMS stands for today (assess
    current brand equity through primary research)
  • Use as starting point for understanding what
    needs to be maintained and what needs to evolve
  • Refine brand positioning to leverage current
    equity, while evolving the brand as necessary to
    remain relevant and differentiated (in process)
  • Use brand positioning to inform key programs and
    initiatives, most notably communications,
    admissions and development

Why would we consider branding for a school?
  • Even with demand for private school education in
    Chicago exceeding available supply, it is
    important to have pulse on the marketplace and be
    able to articulate what makes you relevant and
  • Consistently communicating a brand promise helps
    new families in the search process eventually
    identify and self-select into the school that is
    right for their family (assuming acceptance!)
  • I was looking for a school where the educational
    philosophy mirrors my parenting style.
  • I wanted a school where parents and the school
    shared my same values.
  • I want to feel that my family would be welcomed
    and accepted.
  • I didnt know what I wanted until I saw it
    (referring to Near North)
  • It also helps the community articulate to
    friends, family and prospective families in one
    voice what makes the school special
  • Finally, it prompts the community to try to live
    up to the brand promise not only in one we say,
    but what we do

Brand Strategy Process Overview
  • Equity Assessment
  • (Phase completed Spring, 2012)
  • Background and Research Review
  • Establish Core Decision Making Team (7-10 people)
  • Management Interviews (Key Staff, Board)
  • Qualitative Brand Equity Research 2/12 (Parents,
  • Analysis using Equity and Differentiator Models
  • Strategy Development
  • (Summer-Fall 2012)
  • Conducted Team Workshop in July with team of
    teachers, staff and parents to explore
    positioning options and tackle other brand issues
  • Positioning Development including Statements of
    Personality and Values
  • Strategy Implementation
  • (Fall 2012-Winter 2013)
  • Strategy Implications and Imperatives
  • Visual Identity Refresh?
  • Creative Brief
  • In Process
  • Team Evaluation of Options
  • Refinement Finalization

NNMS Brand Equity Assessment
  • Qualitative Research Objectives
  • Assess current brand perceptions of Near North
    Montessori amongst different constituents
    (Parents, Teachers. Alumni) Desired, but not
  • Gain a preliminary understanding of what drives
    choice when selecting a elementary schoolwhat
    are both tangible and intangible needs? What
    made the school stand out?
  • Identify brand issues and opportunities, as well
    as both currently perceived differentiation and
    potential sources of differentiation for NNMS
  • The research was purposefully designed to
    focus specifically on brand issues, and not to
    fully explore a range of otherwise operational
    issues/ desired improvements for the school.
    Suggestions gathered in this vein are detailed at
    the end of the presentation.

Brand Equity Assessment Qualitative Approach
  • Methodology
  • Conducted eight one-on-one interviews with key
    Board members and Staff
  • Conducted six focus groups with 38 parents
    total, 90 minutes in length
  • Conducted two focus groups with 11 teachers
    total, 90 minutes in length
  • Interviews and focus groups conducted
    February-March, 2012

Audience Number of Groups (number of parents)
Parents of Children 3-6 2 (6) (8)
Parents of Children in 6-12 2 (8) (4)
Parents of Children in 6-12 AND Jr. High 1 (5)
Parents of Children in Jr. High 1 (7)
Teachers 2 (11)
Total Groups 8
Brand Equity AssessmentDissect the brand to
uncover issues and opportunities
Model helps guide and distill research findings.
Often see some natural overlap between the eight
dimensions of a brand.
Identity Who the Brand Is
Utility What the Brand Provides
Key Associations
  • Near Norths associations are rich and wide
  • Warm, loving, nurturing, kind environment
  • An active community of committed teachers, staff,
  • Perceive there is a common mindset/ set of shared
  • Bond by going through non-traditional experience
  • Hard to get into (related good
    reputation/high quality/well-established)
  • Double-edged sword some people dont apply
  • Diverse
  • Other private schools said they were diverse, but
    did not really find this to be true
  • Different philosophy than other public/private
  • Child-centered whole child education
  • Non-traditional/alternative?? (people struggle
    with frame of reference)
  • Best Montessori in Chicago best practitioners
    mature expression of Montessori
  • Interestingly, Montessori is not the first, or
    most mentioned association
  • Granola/Hippie Vibe
  • A bit of a mystery
  • Many mentions of taking a leap of faith to
    attend/continue at NNMS
  • In some ways, this may be a bonding factor

NNMS Current Brand Equity Identity Dimensions
  • Did not expressly explore.
  • Implied values include
  • Recognizing uniqueness in every child
  • Inclusive Community
  • Concern for environment and others
  • Montessori tenets
  • Warm welcoming
  • Wholesome, authentic
  • Safe (physically emotionally)
  • Down-to-earth not ostentatious
  • Inclusive
  • Flexible
  • Creative
  • High energy, intense (teachers)
  • Growth/Longevity
  • Strong Reputation
  • Warm, nurturing environment
  • Active committed community bound by shared
  • Diverse
  • Different Educational Philosophy
  • /- Hard to get into
  • /- Granola
  • /- A bit of a mystery
  • High awareness of logo mixed appeal
  • Doorway imagery
  • Red
  • For some, imagery is too traditional and not

Near North Montessori Current Brand
EquityUtility Dimensions What NNMS Provides
  • Good investment fair value
  • Divergent thinking on relative affordability
  • Value created by
  • Watching childs growth development
    (realization of intangible benefits)
  • High School Admissions Performance
  • Supportive Culture/Community
  • High Quality above average to
  • premium
  • Well-established curriculum
  • Good reputation
  • Whole child development
  • Caring, experienced teachers
  • High school admissions performance
  • Well-thought out materials classroom
  • Relationships

Core Offering
  • Delivers against most key requirements
  • Quality Education
  • Excellent teachers
  • Good facilities
  • Professional, caring, open administration
  • Active, supportive community
  • Some gap areas
  • Language Instruction
  • Athletics
  • Upper school counselors
  • Strong emotional connection through substantial
  • benefit delivery
  • Children
  • Balanced education (academic, social, civil)
  • Foundation for life
  • Realize best self
  • Parents
  • Peace of mind
  • Support/Partnership
  • Friendship/Community
  • Pride/Success

Brand Equity Analysis Differentiator Model
  • After synthesizing all aspects of the Brand
    Equity Research, the resulting brand associations
  • then assessed for their differentiating power.

NNMS Current Differentiation Culture,
Community and Philosophy
  • Near Norths current differentiation centers
    around a strong set of intangibles
  • Diverse community with shared values
  • Culture/ Warm environment
  • Emphasis on whole child development
  • Montessori philosophy
  • Hard to Get Into/Reputation?
  • Quality Education
  • Good teachers
  • Good Facilities
  • Good reputation
  • Montessori (for some)?
  • Granola/Hippie
  • Contemporizing Montessori perceptions
  • Protecting Culture
  • Monitoring Value
  • Improving Communications

Strong Brand, driven largely by intangibles
  • Near North possesses strong brand equity,
    differentiated by its educational philosophy,
    culture and community, resulting in
  • A strong reputation (external realization of
  • An established, well-resourced school that has
    grown significantly over time
  • High performing students
  • Montessori executed well
  • High level of emotional benefits/strong
    connection to Near North (internal realization of
  • Ultimately provides children an educational
    experience that allows them to discover and
    realize their best self, while providing a
    foundation that prepares them for lifes
  • Interestingly, parents felt they benefit in many
    ways, ranging from feeling supported by the
    school and community to being prompted and
    inspired to be a better parent because of the
    schools philosophy.

Increasing Relevance Differentiation of NNMS
  • The very related elements of educational
    philosophy, culture and community help
  • create Near Norths differentiation, with
    opportunities to strengthen relevance and
  • awareness.
  • The educational philosophy is unique vs. most
    other (non-Montessori) private schools
  • The challenge is to grow awareness of its
  • The fact that Near North has a strong community
    and culture is not especially unique. It is the
    type of culture we possess and the strength of
    the community that appears to be especially
    unique/relevant to the families that choose Near
  • The challenge here is how to convey this unique
    vibe accurately and consistently, and protect
    it for the future
  • The next two sections examine the conversations
    around each of these key drivers of
  • the Near North brand.

NNMS Philosophy
Ironically, Montessori philosophy is not the top
reason for choosing NNMS
  • For a growing segment of the parents, Montessori
    per se is not a driver, it is the established
    Near North brand
  • Only about 35-40 come in looking specifically
    for a Montessori school
  • Somewhat ironic in that our educational
    philosophy is outwardly our biggest tangible

Why Choose Near North?
Requirements for all Private Schools What made Near North stand out?
Quality Education Good teachers Certain level of Physical/Emotional Safety Certain level of extracurricular activities Proper Preparation for high school enrollment Reputation Warm Nurturing Environment Diversity/Acceptance of Diversity Committed Community Perceived Fit with Community/ Culture (parents kids) Focus on whole child Educational Philosophy mirrors my parenting philosophy Better economic choice vs. some other private schools Hard to get into may increase its desirability
All Parents
Montessori Bound
Private-school Seekers
Leap of Faith factor
  • Interestingly, many incoming parents feel that
    they take a leap of faith coming to Near North
  • Open but unfamiliar with Montessori Excited,
    but nervous about their decision
  • Can carry on well into 6-9
  • May serve as one of the strongest cornerstone of
    our unique community/culture
  • We took the leap together making the journey
  • Also, placing s a high amount of trust and faith
    in teachers and staff
  • With this leap of faith comes high(er)
  • I expect more as we move out of 3-6. I was
    willing to take a leap of faith at that age.
    Now it needs to go beyond self-motivation and
    discipline to performance

NNMS philosophy is implicitly valued in todays
entrepreneurial organizationswe need to make
that link forward
  • We call Netflix the freedom and responsibility
    culture. We want
  • responsible people who are self-motivating and
  • and we reward them with freedom. . and
    top-of-the market
  • compensation.
  • - Reed Hasting, CEO of Netflix, on building a
    sense of responsibility where people care about
    the enterprise

Implications and Opportunities
  • Contemporize Montessori
  • For those in the know, there is no question
    that the Montessori philosophy is a progressive
    methodology who prepares children well for the
    challenges they will face in the future
  • Biggest opportunity for prospective and current
    parents alike Demonstrate how Montessori is
    preparation for the 21st century and beyond
  • Both in communications and parent education, go
    beyond a focus on the HOW (explaining Montessori
    methodology/tactics) to increasing awareness of
    the WHY and corresponding payoffs
  • Importance of parent education programs
  • Parents that are not as familiar with Montessori
    (or Montessori beyond pre-school) may need more
    upfront and ongoing parent education and
  • Requires significant ongoing parent education
    efforts on part of school
  • Parents yearn for parent education in plain
    English with clearer links to the payoffs
  • Less Montessori-speak, more understanding of
    where the path leads
  • We have fabulous principles obscured by
    Montessori language
  • The mix of parents from different paths reflects
    different ingoing attitudes and familiarity with
    Montessori and may influence NNMS culture over

NNMS Culture and Community
Culture at Near North
  • Culture is the accumulated set of embedded
    values, customs and behaviors (both past and
    present) that contribute to the personality and
    vibe of Near North.
  • Near Norths culture has been created over many
    years and seems to be unique vs. other private
    school choices
  • It is a big intangible that helps families decide
    if a school is the right fit
  • Near North is the only independent, grounded,
    diverse choice
  • Though there are many factors that contribute to
    Near Norths culture, the most differentiating
    factors appear to be
  • A child-centered philosophy that focuses on
    creating a sense of self-worth, self-motivation
    and independence in its students
  • Its commitment to creating as diverse a community
    as possible
  • An active community that embraces the culture and
    shares many values
  • The warm, open and down-to-earth way it conducts
    its business (brand personality)

Sample exercise
If Near North were a ___, which ___ would it be?
NNMS PersonalityA picture is worth a thousand
The personality words/pictures chosen by the
groups begin to paint a picture of the vibe or
energy of the school, as well as illustrating
strengths and potential weaknesses.
Individualized Inclusive Authentic Wholesome,
Natural (environment) Granola
Warm welcoming All about nurturing a childs
growth Concerned about environment
Safe Down to earth practical Classy without
being ostentatious Understated luxury
Classic like good design, the philosophy still
holds up today Comfortable Creative
NNMS PersonalityExercise also illuminated some
tension surrounding perceived cultural shift
  • Car metaphor was especially interesting
  • We are a Volvo
  • Family-focused safety
  • Solid
  • Good investment
  • Understated luxury not too flashy
  • We used to be a VW Bug (and kind of wish we still
  • Quirky
  • Unique
  • A little bit Hippie
  • We should continue to be more
  • Inclusive (room for all)
  • Innovative

Culture Shift at Near North?
  • Many in the Near North community perceive a
    slight shift in the schools culture.
  • Not perceived as a seismic shift, but most people
    seem interested in and concerned about protecting
    and preserving Near Norths unique
  • Some relevant quotes from the community
  • The culture has changed slightly but mostly
    there are like minded people
  • There is definitely a shift from the granola
    decade with Jackie
  • With tuition increases, culture has changed a
    bit, not as granola (in response to car imagery)
  • We want it to be the cool school in reference
    to the artist/music/entrepreneurial bent of the
  • The high tuition suggests that Near North is
    exclusive. This is at odds with the Montessori
    philosophy of inclusiveness.
  • We shouldnt chase the money. As some point,
    you could double the price (of tuition) and still
    fill the seats. But, it would be a different
    community and not the same culture.
  • Diversity has increased over time this is good,
    but there still are challenges
  • We want to keep the feeling of the church
    basement culture, and still get the kids into
    Georgetown (or wherever you may want)
  • Dont want it to be like Latin
  • The school is maturing. We need to evolve also,
    but hold onto our values.
  • We have to be careful not to lose our soul

Community at Near North
  • A community is a shared asset a set of
    relationships, created by the investment of its
    members, usually in the context of a shared goal
    or values.
  • While the idea that most schools offer some sort
    of community is not unique, the type
  • and strength of Near Norths community seems to
    be especially differentiating for parents
  • and teachers/staff
  • The community is embedded in and embraces the
    distinct culture of Near North
  • Defining aspects of the Near North community
  • Community parents, students, faculty/staff
  • The community is representative of an urban
    environment with a cross-section of people
    representing different socioeconomic strata,
    ethnicity, family types, careers, backgrounds
  • Community is also in the classroom children
    teaching each other, working with each other
    teachers for three yearsthis is unique vs. other
    private schools
  • Teaches mentoring and leadership
  • Older help younger
  • The community reflects the personality of Near
    North with strong imagery such as wraps you in
    an embrace, open, welcoming

Community at Near North An Unexpected Benefit
for Parents
What drives it? What drives it? What drives it?
Perception of Shared Values Shared Experience Shared Benefits
Parents are interested, engaged, aligned around what is best for children Share common values/ similar value system Whole child education Striving for diversity Social values Urban Respect diversity of thought if dont agree, most are open to other ideas Perceptions begin early (welcome events/coffees) These are people I dont know but could easily be my friends these are people I would hang out with Some assumption you will be like me We all start in this place of uncertainty on a journey together We take a leap of faith on an adventure together on this non-traditional path Maybe because Near North is hard to get into, people bond--around being lucky/grateful, around their commitment to the school. They want to be here and it is a big deal. Parents feel connected to school and each other The relationships with others (parents teachers) are an added benefit This community is a safe haven (emotional and spiritual safety))where I can also be my best self School creates a circle around my child and family Embraced me and my family Great amount of trust herethis community is helping me raise my child
Implications and Opportunities
  • Protecting the essence of our the culture and
    community, which by nature change and evolve, is
    crucial for the ongoing success of the Near North
    brand, despite challenges that begin to alter it
    (economy, growth, technology, changing mix of
  • It may be interesting to explore (via SEED?) some
    cultural tendencies that may not serve the
  • A cultural predisposition to value some
    professions over others (entrepreneurial/
    artistic vs. professions/doctors, lawyers)
  • The idea that wealth somehow may preclude good
    (or shared) values
  • Common values transcend what we do for a living
    or what our backgrounds look like
  • Clearly communicating these intangibles so that
    families who are the best fit with the
    culture/community continue to seek out and select
    Near North as the best choice for their family
  • Creation of Portrait of a Parent
  • Statement of Values
  • Sets expectations, begins to communicate our
    culture as well as educational philosophy
  • Communicating intangibles is always the greater
    challenge and calls for consistency of brand
    message both internally and externally
  • Leveraging all assets, including brand identity
    (logo), colors, choice of programming

Next Steps
  • Use input from Brand Equity Research and Strategy
    Workshop (held in July) to create a number of
    brand positioning for core team to consider (in
    process currently)
  • Review and finalize NNMS brand positioning (Fall,
  • Share and rollout to wider community (Spring,

  • Thanks to all who participated in the research.
  • Your insights were invaluable!
  • Any questions can be directed through Diane Cohen

The School Decision Process
The Elementary School Decision Process
While we could have done an entire study on the
decision process for choosing an elementary
school in Chicago, our discussions as part of
these groups led to some interesting
insights While some parents include Chicago
Public Schools (CPS) in their search, the
majority of families considering Near North fall
into two segments
  • Two primary paths to Near North
  • Parents looking mainly at Montessori school
    (smaller group ? 40)
  • ? Parents looking more broadly at Private
    schools (increasingly larger group ? 60)
  • After visiting Near North, a segment becomes more
    focused on Montessori schools and applies to Near
    North as well as other Montessori schools
  • Others apply to Near North as well as other
    private schools
  • Open to Montessori, but not an imperative
  • Parents that are not as familiar with Montessori
    (or Montessori beyond pre-school) have a slightly
    different set of requirements upon acceptance
    into the school
  • May need more upfront and ongoing parent
    education and communication
  • Another requirement for the school Educate
    parents as well as children!
  • Considerations with this segment Leap of faith
    factor? Different expectations? Trial experiment?
  • The mix of parents from different paths reflects
    different ingoing attitudes and familiarity with
    Montessori and may influence NNMS culture over

Two Primary Paths to Near North
Weve got to get into a good school!
  • Private Schools
  • Parochial
  • Montessori/Alternative
  • Other

Path one ? 35-40 of families
Path two ? 65 of families
Looking at many Private Schools
Highly Interested/ Committed to Montessori (but
may not know how it works beyond pre-school)
Urban person. Like idea of neighborhood school
and saving money!
Dont know much about Montessori but wowed by NNM
Apply to magnets/public Montessori just to see if
I get in!
Look at a number of Montessori/alternative
Those kids! Such confidence poise!
Now include other Montessori schools in search,
Wowed by NNM Coffee!
Accepted. Yeah!
Accepted. Just cant do it. Too much risk with
funding, class size and safety (emotional and
Apply to Near North (as well as other Montessori)
Apply to Near North, as well as other private
Accepted, but cant make the leap ( or
Not accepted. ?
Accepted at NNMS. Our dreams realized. Yeah!
Accepted at NNMS. Yeah! Take a Leap of Faith!
Go to another private school. (or possibly CPS)
Not accepted. ? Go to another Montessori school.
Apply to NNM again next year!
A Brief Look at the Competition
Competitive Mentions/PerceptionsPerceptions by
current Near North parents
Choice is where you apply, not where you get in!
Private Private Private
Montessori/ Alternative (an increasing number of choices) Rogers Park Montessori Intercultural Montessori Chicago Montessori Academy Montessori de la Citta Cardinal Bernardin Chiaravalle Baker School Smaller, but growing nice facilities seems to be good processes not as established teachers not as well-trained When considering Montessori schools, Near North is the best of the best. Other schools are not as large, well-located, established, or accredited They all dont go until 8th grade Near North is more exclusive (harder to get into than other Montessori)
Parochial Francis Xavier Warde Sacred Heart Parish Schools The education just isnt there NNMS teaches values just as well (as a Catholic school) or better
Other Private (Top Elite) Latin Francis Parker Catherine Cook British School U of C Lab School Very structured, old mainline, pedigreed, safe, great education, elite Expensive, artistic, nice facility, not as rigid as Latin For rich people, community doesnt feel connected, people leave IB instruction is rigorous, having financial troubles Diverse, expensive, hard to get into, progressive, excellence in academics, but less attention to social development
Chicago Public Schools Chicago Public Schools Chicago Public Schools
Neighborhood/Gifted/Magnet Burley, Bell, LaSalle II Some schools are getting better. Worry about class size, attention to physical and emotional safety, budget
Montessori Drummond, Suder, Oscar Mayer Not really Montessori An alternative to traditional education within a public school model
Near North is the only independent, grounded,
diverse choice.
Benefit Hierarchies How NNMS connects with its
Benefit Hierarchies
  • Benefits are the primary creator of a brands
  • The purpose of the benefit hierarchy is to
    demonstrate the full range of benefits (tangible
    and intangible) that can result from attending
    the school (both for students and their parents)
  • They can serve as valuable tools for exploring
    relevance and differentiation and for enhancing
    the richness of communications
  • Organizations often make the mistake of telling
    their story only through product features and
    resulting functional benefits.
  • While it is necessary to communicate important
    functional attributes of a brand, there is
    greater value to be derived by focusing the brand
    promise around its emotional benefits
  • Generally, the higher-order the benefit, the
    stronger the connection-- resulting in stronger
    brand preference
  • These valuable connection points must be
    reinforced, strengthened and protected.

Benefit Hierarchy for StudentsNear North
(Foundation for future)
Empowered to contribute at a high level to
Realize my best self
Better able to achieve personal
happiness/ Success that I define
Higher Order Emotional Benefits
Trust in Adults
Feel valued
Sense of Belonging
Mutual Respect
Pride In what Ive done In who I am
Strong sense of Self Self-Worth
Lower Level Emotional Benefits
Strong Moral Compass
Independence Self-Reliance
Respect empathy for others self
Love of Learning
Strong relationships
Better ability to compete
Leadership Opportunities
High Level Functional Benefits
Flexibility to meet individual needs
Above average competence/mastery
Strong Problem solving abilities
Concern/Aware-ness of larger world
Awareness of natural world
Goal-setting self discipline
Ability to identify/pursue interests passions
Safe Place to Grow Develop
Low-Level Functional Benefits
Sandwich Shop Farmessori Enrich-ment Programs Language, Athletics Good Facilities Well-trained teachers low turnover Challenging Academic Curriculum Montessori Philosophy Good reputation Committed, Active Community, Diverse Community Warm nurturing environment Open Adminis-tration
Product Service Attributes
Benefit Hierarchy for ParentsNear North
Feeling that I did my best
Higher Order Emotional Benefits
Pride in what I was able to provide
Feeling Successful as a good parent
Sense of Belonging/ Connectedness
Peace of Mind
Pride in my child
Lower Level Emotional Benefits
Confidence that I made the right choice
Expanding my horizons to be a better parent
More enjoyment of child
Having a partner in raising my child
Security less stress worry
Feel listened to and respected
High Level Functional Benefits
Being Part of a Community
A sense of shared values
Flexibility in meeting my childs needs
Help and problem-solving with parenting issues
Safe Place when my child is not with me
Make Lifelong Friends
Seeing my childs growth
Low-Level Functional Benefits
Sandwich Shop Farmessori Enrich-ment Programs Language Athletics Good Facilities Well-trained teachers low turnover Challenging Academic Curriculum Montessori Philosophy Good reputation Committed, Active Community, Diverse Community Warm nurturing environment Open Adminis-tration
Product Service Attributes
Teachers Perceptions
Teacher perceptions of NNMS closely align with
  • Near Norths perceived differentiation
  • We are the biggest, best, best resourced
    Montessori in Chicago
  • Sizeable budget (access to funds)
  • Affluent student body means we get what we need
  • Support materials Kids are high-functioning
  • The childrens experience is centralmore than
    just students
  • Three year tenure develops strong relationships
  • The school is committed to diversity
  • Continuity and experience of staff
  • Presence of alumni (11) in some capacity at
  • Community also mentioned prominently
  • We are an oasis small community in the middle of
    urban environment implied safety
  • Teachers at Near North are highly committed and
    contribute to community beyond classroom (time,
    materials, money)
  • We spend more time with parents than at most
  • Recognize high level of parent involvement
  • Other associations
  • Together Together as in community, and we
    have it together

Other key teacher perceptions (in their words)
Strengths Potential Weaknesses/Fears
Teachers favorable towards administration They work hard to bond our team Feel taken care ofthere is a feeling of family There is mutual respect and trust between teachers between teachers and staff (and also between teachers and the children and their parents) Like the students, teachers appreciate their high level of freedom/autonomyto try new things, make mistakes and learn follow passions Professional development is very much appreciated validates what they do Private lives celebrated and appreciatedwe do cool thingsok to have a life Growth can be a plus it can also inhibit our ability to connect (with each other and families) We need to guard against the cultural shift Maintain the Montessori philosophy More parent education so they understand school and methodology Realize this school is very expensive and people are entitled to voice opinions and have high expectations Somehow need to manage expectations and soothe their anxiety while still protecting our freedom to be creative
Non-brand Issues and Opportunities
Non-brand issues/opportunities
  • As mentioned in objectives, the goals of the
    research did not include probing and exploring
    all perceptual strengths and weaknesses of the
  • We instead focused on those elements which are
    known to be key drivers of all brands
  • Several issues and suggestions surfaced during
    the groups and management interviews and we
    wanted to filter and forward the information

Suggested areas of improvement (mainly
  • Comments and suggestions in response to What
    would you do if you were Audrey for a
  • day/week/year?
  • Also reflects other comments and asides
    throughout the discussions

Things to improve Parents Teachers
Things to improve Begin prepping parents earlier (6th grade) with information and expectations on high school testing (will this reduce or accelerate stress levels?) Language offerings (more depth and choices) More enrichment options art, math science clubs, Olympiad Integrate tutoring or other academic pursuits into the currently more recreational after-school program Work with neighborhood parks to incorporate even more outdoor space Time pressure (from committees, technology, staff scheduling, parent communication) is a growing concern Create protocols and boundaries around parent communications (type of channels and points of access) to manage time pressure and expectations Offer group help sessions for new technology More trip/ outdoor activities for students Better sustainability initiatives to eliminate waste Add tuition benefit for staff (but socioeconomic benefits shouldnt just go back to staff kids)
Suggested areas for improvement (with potential
brand impact)
  • Highlighting these suggestions separately, as
    some represent issues than can grow and impact
    larger brand perceptions such as culture,
    quality, safety and value.

Things to improve Parents Teachers
Things to improve Increased communications and transparency between teachers and parents Insure consistent quality among teachers at each level and between levels Hire a full or part-time social worker/counselor to assist middle and upper school children with their emotional health and wellness issues Think outside of Montessori constraints to deal with large (emotional/behavioral) gap between youngest and oldest at 6-9 and 9-12 levels Jr. High to include 6th grade as transition to adolescence is happening then? Better bridging between 6th grade and Jr. High Continue to enhance parent education Plain language reduce Montessori-speak Less reading from the bible of Maria Manage tuition and fee hikes More all school events that are not about fund-raising More opportunities to mingle with older/younger parents as you are with the school longer Continue/increase/strengthen parent education Help parents understand school and methodology For new parents, it really is a process Enhance economic diversity of the school Add more cultural diversity to staff/administration
What should never change about NNMS?Things to
  • These reiterate those elements of Near North that
    drive the brand
  • Significant consistency with key association
    and key drivers

Things to preserve Parents Teachers
Things to preserve Community Culture Maintain vibe hold onto culture Keep diversity, although it is hard Maintain openness accessibility of administration foster notion of availability to all families, not just families with issues Montessori We do not exist to be a high school prep environment Jr. High Strong group of educators up on adolescent mind Program is the icing on the cake full realization of NNMS benefits Culture Autonomy/Trust Maintain integrity of Montessori Principles Parent Education Continue to encourage more trust and faith in process