Developing a Logo and Identity

A logo can communicate so much without words. Learn how to create your own through this step-by-step overview of the process.

School districts often ask: “Why do we need a logo when we already have a mascot?” Perhaps the main reason is that the mascot most likely represents your athletic teams. And while those teams are a vitally important aspect of school and district culture, the identity of your organization is much broader and must be directly connected to teaching and learning. This is especially true for organizations that are moving toward student-centered practices; your logo can become part of your redesign efforts, just as your Vision, Mission and Values announce a new strategic direction.

Your mascot does not need to be retired, but every professional organization needs an identifiable “look and feel.” The logo often leads the way in creating an impression of which you will be proud in the years to come. Read Testimonial: From Mascot to Logo to learn more.

To get started you may want to view the logos of similar organizations. Below are several we like:

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School logos: Boston Public Schools, Seattle Public Schools, High Tech High School, Utah Virtual Academy, and Aspire Public Schools

Next, you will need to line up a graphic designer. You may have a talented designer in your art department, among the student ranks, or within the parent population. You may be able to enlist a community partner, such as an advertising firm or the graphics department of a company in your community, to design a new logo for you on a pro-bono basis. Obviously, in these instances, the costs will be minimal. If such resources are not available to you, you will need to hire a graphic designer. If you are well organized and prepared to provide them with adequate information, the project shouldn’t break the bank.

Sample Design Questions

To begin work, the designer will need to learn about your organization. Typically, they may ask the following kinds of questions:

  1. Tell us about your organization. What is your vision? What is your mission? What do you want your organization to be known for a few years down the road?
  2. What adjectives or phrases would you use to describe the organization you aspire to create?
  3. What images come to mind when you think of that organization?
  4. Do you already have a logo and/or tagline?
  5. Do you want a tagline? (A tagline is a short phrase that appears under the logo. Example: Nike’s tagline is “Just Do It.”)
  6. What is your primary objective for the logo design or redesign?
  7. What impressions do you want others to have about the organization you are aspiring to create?
  8. Are you partial to any particular colors or fonts?
  9. Are there any examples of logos you can point to as a model for what you desire?
  10. What are your budget requirements?
  11. Where and how will the logo be used? (letterhead, business cards, the organization’s website)

You may also want to consider writing a Creative Brief to guide the designer.

The Design Process

Once the designer has this information in hand, she will begin to sketch out some possibilities, probably after checking out the logos of similar organizations. Often, you may ask for several different designs from which to choose. The designer will then transfer the most promising designs into a digital format.

The next step is for the designer to present the proposed designs to your team. Typically, there’s a short narrative that accompanies the images.

The team selects a favorite (which may end up being a hybrid of the designs that were presented) and once the team signs off, the designer will produce a variety of file types that can be used for different purposes, including EPS, JPEG and TIF.

Do not expect a logo to materialize overnight. Successful logo development is a time-consuming project and a collaborative process that requires ongoing dialogue between you and your designer. Once you have a logo you love, you will realize that it was worth it to invest the time and resources. The logo can be a very valuable asset for your organization.

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