Own Your School’s Identity

Posted on Aug 27, 2018 in Blog, Fundamentals

Schools think they will save money with do-it-yourself branding by using clip art or by having an enthusiastic parent draw a logo that will be emblazoned on the website, letterhead and campus signage. Home pages abound with newly created heraldic crests with indecipherable Latin phrases, lamps of learning, swords and trees meant to define the essence of the school. And mascots? Oh boy.

If you want to truly stand out as unique and differentiated, you need to put the power of branding to work for your school. Engage an illustrator to bring you to a new level of professionalism by creating original artwork that is distinctly and legally yours. A terrific logo is much more important (and memorable) than a tagline.

Are you dragging around an old-fashioned logo? In some cases, it’s possible to “refresh” a design that is poorly rendered or outdated without rethinking the original concept. A “rebrand” is a bigger deal, often including the development of a completely new graphic identity that expresses the idea of your school. This might include both wordmark and icon elements.


Begin your make-over with a kick-off “listening” meeting of stakeholders and the designer/illustrator in order to gather input and secure buy-in from the school community. It has been our experience that community members who feel listened to are more likely to become enthusiastic supporters of the new identity and guidelines.

The goal of this meeting is to make the redesign process clear and easy to understand, to listen to different points of view, and to engage the group as supporters and partners in championing the new graphic identity.

Creative brief

The work product from the discovery meeting and related research will be a summary of findings as they relate to visual and key elements to be considered in the redesign. The creative brief outlines objectives, target audiences and central messages supporting the design rationale—all based on feedback gathered from the school. The purpose of the brief is to ensure that you and the designer/artist reach a shared understanding of assumptions and goals so that the work you undertake accurately reflects the points of view of your various stakeholders.

Wordmark Development

Each step involves continued communication and collaboration with an approval committee empowered to lead the project.

  • Three to five different graphic approaches get the ball rolling
  • Refinements and revisions are made according to committee feedback to arrive at a single design
  • Mockups of letterhead, business cards, etc., show you how the wordmark and colors will look in different applications
  • Once approved, the identity is implemented throughout the basic stationery suite, forms, invitation shell and any other stock items that will carry the institutional identity
  • Compatible type styles are selected that can be easily implemented throughout school communications to further solidify the school’s visual brand
  • Graphic identity guidelines provide a rulebook for the school’s “logo police”

Icon Development


Meanwhile, if an icon (symbol or illustration) is to be part of your institutional identity, this must be part of the design process, too.

Again, basing decisions on the creative brief, the artist will produce pencil sketch options. The committee will choose one preferred version to develop into finished artwork.

Approach refinement

This step should include two or three rounds of changes to the digital artwork. At this stage, color breakout options will be presented—also with a round of revisions. After a design is approved, final digital files will be produced.

Final Image Files

Final art files of the wordmark and/or logo icon will be provided to the school. Each version of the art will be provided in CMYK, black & white and flat colors as EPS, PDF and JPEG files.

Now, you OWN your identity and will have exclusive rights for use of the final images.