We are in an era of marketing mania—that dirty word of yesteryear is now owned by businesses, cities, yoga, pets and, yes, schools. At the center of branding is the all-important logo that is supposed to express your unique identity. Notice how the Nike swoosh is EVERYWHERE?
Alas, many schools are still relying on outmoded crests or seals as their corporate trademark. Lamps of learning, arcane Latin mottoes, birds and trees are enshrined in circles and shields. Save them for diplomas and baccalaureate ceremonies. They only mean something to the school family. To outsiders confronted with this kind of imagery, the message may be “exclusive, old fashioned and expensive.” Is that what you want?
Think about the first impression your school makes through its official symbol—on the website homepage, letterhead, campus signage. Is it right on? The best logo reflects the dignity and tradition of the school, as well as its forward-looking aspects. It must be sophisticated enough to convey the idea of quality education and yet not be stuffy. It must be legible and memorable.
The logo will be used for advertising and recruitment purposes. All of the potential applications involve psychological and technical criteria—it must be simple enough to be reproducible in many forms and yet keep its graphic integrity and clarity. A designer for a new school logo will consider that it will be used on athletic uniforms, letterhead, notebooks, mugs and jewelry, and will create artwork from a researched statement about your audiences and school culture and vision.
Don’t pretend to be a centuries’ old school by employing newly concocted heraldic symbolism for your logo. These marks are very difficult to distinguish from school to school. Instead, think about who you are as an institution and what makes you distinct. Indifferent emblems keep you under the radar.
Remember, today’s independent school audiences have a much greater appreciation of graphics, and competition for the attention of consumers has grown immensely. Browse through website homepages to see what others are doing and come up with something bold and fresh of your own. Your brand is one of your most important assets.