Look At Your School’s Logo

Schools are full of empty logos. Lifeless crests. Soul-less brands. Look around you. What is the quality of your logo/crest? How old is it? How well does it reproduce in electronic form? How many variations exist?

A logo is a concept in graphic form that captures the spirit of your school. A strong logo reflects a distinctive brand or identity. It is the school’s signature. But without attention, your logo can become dated and poorly defined. 

In a competitive marketplace your logo must be working for you all the time, reflecting exactly what your school wants to say about itself. It must be given voice, be polished and set on a pedestal for all to see. 

Below are 10 ways to present the face of your school in a highly visual way through your crest/logo.

1 Say it in one
In the past, an organisation could spell out its philosophy in half a page. In today’s fast-paced world, you have 10 seconds! 

Your school logo needs to say it all in one. Business brands provide examples. Striking business logos are characterised by extreme simplicity. They are uncluttered and use only a few lines, colours and geometric shapes to stand out boldly. Slogans are brief.

By contrast, many school logos are cluttered with old world icons of flames, books, scrolls, shields, crosses, stars, crowns and heraldic devices that speak of a medieval past, not of a promising future.

2 Do away with poor design
Does your logo suffer any of the faults below? If so, it’s time to design a new one or modify your old look.
A logo/crest without the school’s name.
Language that most people cannot understand or remember (eg Latin).
A logo that tries to capture too many images in a small space.
A hairy-edged design that does not reproduce well in electronic form.
An image from long ago that depicts disused buildings, dated icons, obsolete colours or other long-deceased features.
Too many variations.

3 Present a professional image
There are two or three elements to a logo - the brand name, the brand mark, which is a recognised symbol or colour, and the brand slogan consisting of four to six words. To bring all these elements together it’s a good idea to invest in a professional designer.
A logo should be flexible, reproducible, enlargeable and  uncluttered.
 It should be timeless – not trendy, as fashion is quickly outdated. 
Consistency is the factor that makes logos work. 
Direct your designer to prepare your logo in colours suitable for online use, that work in 3D, that can be animated, and that will work even in a very small size on a computer screen.
Ask your designer to prepare a Crest Block that illustrates the sizing of letters and the spacing around them.

4 Let colour unify your image
Colour grabs attention. It helps us retain and recall information. The use of a consistent colour scheme in your logo and throughout your printed communication will unify the school’s corporate identity. Colours become your ‘voice’. 
A strong accent colour such as red or yellow can revitalize a drab look.

5 Add personality to your logo
Once you have a basic design for your logo don’t be afraid to adapt it creatively for different uses. 
At one school with a soldier icon, a designer crafted the logo into a playful, whimsical symbol for kindergarten awards, and on another occasion it was creatively interpreted to decorate the childrens’ ski caps for their annual ski trip. As you entered the school, the soldier appeared on school direction boards and it was used as the central image for the school’s 150th anniversary. 

6 Take your time
A new corporate image does not happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. Reaching consensus on a crest, name and slogan typically involves many hours of angst. People respond to graphic design subjectively, so plan lots of lead time. Get the foundations in place with a modern design, then as funds become available, place the new visual identity on flags, uniforms, publications and other items to create a consistent look.

7 Say it with words
A descriptive slogan adds strength to a school’s identity. Some examples that evoke sentiment in just a few words are: 
‘In the direction of our dreams’ 
‘Creating the future’ 
‘Learning for Life’ 
‘We do more than teach. We Inspire’ 
‘An indestructible school for boys’ – this is a winning combination that conjures up both timelessness and an unwavering purpose.

8 Use your logo consistently
Reiteration of brand builds awareness. Here are ideas for repeated exposure.
Put your logo boldly on everything to create a ‘together’ look - stationery, uniforms, vehicles, buildings, publications, brochures and websites.
Position it prominently on your advertising. 
When you deal with business partners and sponsors, print your logo on reports and proposals – on the cover and the footer of every page. 
Use the logo to design a suite of award certificates Position the logo as the stamp and use different coloured paper to signify levels of achievement. 
Your logo can also be made into merit stickers. 
Add it to your honour boards, sports equipment, shade marquees, school and house flags, medals, keyrings and other memorabilia. 
Mould your logo into chocolates which you can box and use as special gifts.
Get your logo out into the open. Have it in the newspapers, on books, on fridges and at every event. Make it bold and put it on a pedestal so that people recognise your visual signature at a glance.

9 Control the design
Once you have decided on the look you want, set a standard in writing. Prepare a manual called a Style Guide (reference: The School Style Guide by Linda Vining and Lynette Eggins)
In your Style Guide you can define the school’s image symbols and how they should  be used. Specify fonts, spacing, borders and the colour of inks. Indicate clearly where the logo must be positioned on stationery and how all the elements of the design fit together. Show an example of the crest block. 
Issue computer templates to every member of the school. Don’t forget the accounts department, parent organisations and your alumni groups. Insist on standardised usage. 
Computers have made it ever so easy for people to modify corporate designs so you need to keep strict control over the use of all aspects of the school’s corporate identity or it can easily revert to old copy and individualised interpretations.         
10 . Provide substance to backup image
A new logo cannot miraculously fix a school’s image problems. It cannot make your school into something it is not. A good product, reflected in the classroom, the front office and the principal’s domain will add substance to your visual image. Your logo is your signature and your calling card. It’s up to you to make sure the memory is positive.

About the author
Dr Linda Vining was Director and Founder of the Centre for Marketing Schools (CMS). 
For other marketing strategies see Linda’s book  'PURPLE POWER for Memorable School Marketing'.
A useful how-to-guide available from CMS is the book The School Style Guide by Linda Vining and Lynette Eggins. 
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