Phillips Brooks School


Menlo Park, CA

Client Challenge

Art & Science Group first met the Phillips Brooks School team at an Enrollment and Competitive Positioning Retreat we led for the California Association of Independent Schools. School leadership teams, including the head of school, chief admissions officer, chief communications officer, chief development officer and trustees were invited to this two-day intensive workshop. Phillips Brooks’ leaders already had taken an introspective and conscientious approach to market positioning, but they knew they were missing something in their efforts to strengthen market awareness of their elementary school in the highly competitive Silicon Valley market. Without external market data, they were stuck in an all-too-common log jam brought on by large amounts of self-reflection and a diversity of strong opinions.


Our Approach

In such a highly-educated community with an abundance of excellent school competitors, Art & Science Group needed to gather evidence rather than merely anecdotes to give the school leadership — as well as the entire faculty and staff — confidence in how to optimize the school’s competitive position. Our research design included a current-parent survey that went well beyond measuring parent satisfaction and included the testing of potential new initiatives and understanding of the school’s fundamental priorities. In-depth qualitative interviews with enrollment influencers, non-inquirers and prospective parents in the admissions funnel provided the data the school needed to move forward in boldly claiming a distinctive educational approach — as well as ideas about how to do that more effectively.

“Art & Science Group conducted high-quality research. The development of the survey questionnaire was a careful and thorough process. The research results gave us a clear picture of where we needed to improve, including the gap in perceptions in terms of what parents were looking for and what they were actually experiencing at our school. I found Ben [Edwards] very adept at hearing what we had to say, making sure he understood what we wanted to achieve and working with the leadership of the marketing committee. He made sure that the final report was useful to us and that we got the most out of the process.”
- Dr. Scott Erickson, Head of School

The Results

Trustees and staff members at Phillips Brooks School now share a clear vision and agree on the strategic priorities important to realizing that vision. The study enabled the school to make wiser investments in a marketing implementation plan, including a new visual identity and messaging platform that informs and aligns marketing collateral. Based on our recommendations, the school also created a comprehensive message map to ensure that trustees, faculty and staff are saying the same things.

“Our design firm told us that the Art & Science Group final report provided the most thorough starting point to guide re-branding and communications efforts that they had ever received.”
- Dr. Scott Erickson, Head of School