Every school has a slogan. I assume your school has one as well, but is it working?

In my book, Building School Culture From the Inside Out, I highlight the importance of a school slogan and discuss how just a few simple words can drive school culture and create student ownership, but you might be wondering, “JC, how do we know if our slogan is working?”

So here is the litmus test for your school slogan: Do you hear students repeating it?

In Chip & Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, we learn what makes a message really stick. Ever wonder why Nike’s “Just Do It” revolutionized an industry? Or the reason everyone in Texas repeats the 30 year old anti-litter campaign “Don’t Mess with Texas?”

It’s because those sayings have three important qualities. They are SIMPLE, POSITIVE, and DIRECT.

Simple, positive, and direct slogans work because they’re memorable and offer a positive impact on the populations that align with those brands. One of my favorite songs is Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days,” which speaks to the fact that our days in high school or middle school are a big part of what defines us. Your school culture is a brand that connects to your student’s self-identity for years to come.

So how can you create a successful slogan?

● Highlight what makes your school great
● Explain your commitment to your culture
● Keep it short!
● Make sure it sounds pleasing to the ear
● Be honest and giving in your statement
● Get “buy in” at the highest administrative levels
● Get “buy in” from your students (No great slogan was ever created without focus group testing)

Here is a short case study to demonstrate the power of a strong slogan:

Years back, I spoke at a middle school in Lancaster, CA as part of a city wide anti-bullying program called “NOT IN OUR TOWN.” While I was in Lancaster I witnessed an awesome collaboration between all of their schools, and several key city officials and organizations. Championed by the Mayor, this simple idea created a community-wide movement to make sure everyone knew that, when it came to bullying, the City and the school districts were standing by the pledge, “NOT IN OUR TOWN.”

It was inspiring to see banners hung around the schools and throughout the city. Students and adults embraced the campaign and it proved to be extremely successful. Before the campaign began 62% of Del Sur Middle School students reported feeling safe on campus, according to the school’s Support Personnel Accountability Report Card. By the end of that year that figure jumped to 92%!

Let me repeat that.

92% of students reported feeling safe on campus, up from 62% in the beginning of the year.

That slogan definitely worked! Why? Because it was simple, direct, and positive.

If you want to learn more about developing a slogan, I invite you to download a free copy of my latest book at www.teentruth.net/schoolculture.

Through TEEN TRUTH’s assemblies, leadership summits, and professional development school culture workshops, I know that we can create an experience that will develop your campus culture, and give you a slogan that will drive your efforts for years to come.

In fact, we’ve recently teamed up with Lifetouch School Photography to offer the “Building Positive School Culture Workshop” to cities across the Philadelphia area. We hope to roll this out to more cities as well. Check out this video clip to learn more:



Let’s work together to build school culture, and create messaging on campus that works!

My Best,


JC Pohl

President & CEO, TEEN TRUTH


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