Some feedback from Craig (the graphic designer)
I’ve really enjoyed reading through the comments expressed here. They’re greatly appreciated. What they show is a community that cares deeply about its school. I just wanted to address some of the concerns above to help clarify a little bit more as to why certain decisions were made regarding the logo concept. Ultimately, this is just one logo concept among many but I feel it is a very strong concept and worthy of consideration.
First, I’d like to talk about school logos and what they represent. A school logo should represent (literally, symbolically or metaphorically) something unique about a school that sets it apart from other schools. Beliefs, values, people, geographic location, heritage, and a school’s culture combine to create unique school environments. Schools emphasise certain characteristics over others and a school logo is a reflection of these characteristics.
Second, a common misconception about logos is that they should be able to stand on their own and clearly identify the brand they represent. While this can be true, for many this isn’t the case. The logo symbol might be abstract in nature and, over time, the public connecting the logo symbol with the brand grows as result of marketing the brand. That recognition between the logo symbol and brand can become so powerful that many brands only use the logo symbol without the brand name. There are many examples of companies that do this.
Importantly, a school logo should not be everything to everyone. It should stand for something that is fundamentally important to a school.
Regarding the slogan or tagline “Learning at Play”, this reinforces Waipahihi School’s distinct point of difference. In the very first paragraph of the Ministry of Education NZ Curriculum Brochure (Purpose and Scope) they define its principal function “…is to set the direction for student learning and to provide guidance for schools as they design and review their curriculum.” (my bolding). The New Zealand curriculum guides schools as they embark on a journey to define and design what learning looks like as part of their school curriculum (vision, values, key competencies, learning areas and principles). The result of this journey is a classroom curriculum that is the outward expression of the school curriculum design at each level of a child’s learning.
“Play” at Waipahihi School is an active and dynamic learning tool within the context of their classroom curriculum at all learning levels. This I felt was the key point of difference from other schools and hence the reason for the focus. It isn’t to say that other learning methods aren’t used. This is simply highlighting a key point of difference.
To add to this, a slogan should express a school’s USP (Unique Selling School Proposition or Point). It should address the question “What can I expect child if I send my child to Waipahihi School?” If “Play” is the central method used for learning (at all ages) then, rather than shying away from this key differentiating learning methodology (as defined by the Waipahihi Schoool Curriculum), embrace the difference and change perceptions so as to educate the broader community in understanding what “play” truly is in a modern school learning environment.
The word “play” used in conjunction with “at” rather than “with” enables the double meaning. If it were “with” it would be more "preschool sounding" and much less dynamic. “At” implies action – learning is happening now (at play). In this context the school is not talking about the action of “play” as the vehicle for learning, Waipahihi is saying “We’re an active dynamic learning environment NOW.” If “at” was replaced with “with” that very important meaning would be lost.
Waipahihi School is a school with a strong environmental focus. Some of the concerns around this important aspect were going to be addressed through the values branding. I show how this looks a little bit with, what I call, the Learning Ethos Models http://www.schoolbrandingmatters.co.nz/portfolio/learning-models/ They provide for parents a fuller picture of a school’s beliefs – vision, mission, and values and how these relate to each other. Included at this stage can be the information about Waipahihi School’s environmental education. These environmental aspects can be promoted further through the design of a PB4L/Values logo http://www.schoolbrandingmatters.co.nz/portfolio/pb4l-values-branding/ and associated graphics (flags, banners, posters etc http://www.schoolbrandingmatters.co.nz/portfolio/flags-banners/ ).
To that end, it’s important to remember that the logo is not the end of the graphic identity process. It is just the beginning. The logo is supported by content and graphics to help reinforce, define, and communicate what the Waiphihi School learning environment looks like.
I hope this helps address some of the concerns. That it is provocative and encourages the community to be curious is a good thing. And I felt that Waipahihi School required a solution that was very provocative (in a positive way) as a result of its unique, modern, risky, out of box, learning approach.
I wish you all a very merry Christmas,
Craig Burton (SBM Graphic Design Consultancy) was invited to our school to help us craft a compelling brand story around our school's unique character and cultural narrative. For a year we have been reviewing how we 'do' learning at Waipahihi and what it looks like across our school. We want to encapsulate the wide range of initiatives and passions that enable learning at our school and represent them in a conceptual way that both challenges, and inspires, all our stakeholders in what we do with learning at Waipahihi School.
Over the day he was here Craig gained insight and perspective from the conversations and observations he made, or had. While here Craig walked through our learning spaces, he spent an hour or so with the team leaders and senior leadership and then spent that after school time with the staff, adding further detail to the picture he was beginning to assimilate. He commented that the buzz around our school, both in our learning spaces and in the way the conversations described what learning looked like, put us in a place that he wanted to encapsulate in an 'edgy' way. Hence, he spent a week looking at the 'brain swarm' of ideas that he took away from his day here, drafting and redrafting the 'back story' of what he felt we were talking about, and, attempting to do. He then considered the many features of our place, our environment, and the features of what has been prominent in our learning 'story' to date. He attempted to draft an image, a brand, that gave voice to what makes our school, our place, unique.
The draft logo and 'catchphrase' proposal...
The Learning Story that supports it... Craig's draft...
At the heart of Waipahihi School’s learning approach is “PLAY”. - (the verb!)
PLAY is the driving force behind students DISCOVERING new ways to make sense of their world. It is COLLABORATIVE and CREATIVE. When students learn this way they become more CURIOUS about their world and this builds in them a sense of WONDER!
Just as TIA went on a journey and discovered Lake Taupo, students also go on a journey of discovery at Waipahihi School.
The logo is based on a stylised “PLAY” button icon which is a modern icon. The play button comprises of two koru shapes representing two figures - teacher and student, parent and child, or teacher and parent. It is a caring nurturing relationship where the two explore learning TOGETHER.
The PLAY button and swirl pattern shapes are inspired by the patterns on Tia’s head. The circle is symbolic of Lake Taupo while the red to blue blend is associated with the translation of “Waipahihi” which is “Scorching Water”. The colours also represent warmth (Waipahihi is a caring warm place) and energy (Waipahihi is a dynamic learning environment).
Waipahihi School is a creative pool of learning where students have the potential to explore endless possibilities. Just like the ripples on Lake Taupo that move and change, learning at Waipahihi School is
dynamic and adapts to the changing currents in the education world. The swirls and korus represent
the birth and rebirth of new creative ideas.
Overall the logo is dynamic with a sense of vitality and life about it. It is also playful with a strong cultural feel.
The Tagline “LEARNING AT PLAY”
The tagline is a “play” on words - a double entendre. It describes the Waipahihi School learning environment as a whole - Learning is happening (at play) here at Waipahihi! It also describes “PLAY” as the mechanism for learning - Waipahihi students are learning best while they are playing!
So, remember, it's not the noun 'play' but the verb 'play' that is important when looking at the catchphrase that he has drafted. Ask yourself, what learning is being provoked in my child/rens learning area and how would you talk about it?
Read the 'backstory' again that supports the different elements and colours that he has attempted to draw on to give life to our schools uniqueness. Consider our geographical uniqueness, the way we collaborate, the way we talk about learning within a creative, responsive curriculum across all levels of our school. We are not one element, or initiative, or passion, or interest, or project but the sum of them all.
Every school logo Craig creates is a unique one off design. He trys to include rich layers of symbolism and meaning so that when staff, students and parents look at the logo they can understand why it looks the way it looks. To that end a logo can help in putting all stakeholders on the same page. The school community plays an important role, as part of the collaborative process, in the final look of their school logo. It is your logo, representing our school, to our community.
Your feedback, via the comment section below, is welcome and wanted!