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5 keys to a great school district logo design

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By Steve Williams
Sep 18, 2015 6:39:01 PM


A school district logo goes beyond being a mere symbol on everything or a focal point when entering a building. It represents the values and principles that the district stands for. Branding is not something the district owns, but rather, it is the perception of the community.

The concept of branding dates back thousands of years, when potters would etch marks on their pottery to differentiate their work. Over time, people recognized the quality of their pottery based on these markings, leading to the development of branding as we know it today. This presents an opportunity for school districts to create a logo that accurately reflects the quality and values of their institution.

Unfortunately, not all school districts have excelled in this area. While many districts are proud of their achievements and commitment, their logos often fall short of being award-winning. Logo contests that involve high school students may provide a valuable learning experience, but they may not always result in a logo that effectively represents the district.

It is common for districts to have poorly designed logos that lack the necessary resources and professionalism. This can create a disconnect between what the district represents and what its logo portrays. A logo is an asset of the district and has the potential to support and enhance its image.

Furthermore, it is crucial for a logo to be adaptable to various media and channels in today's digital age. Whether it is printed in black-and-white on paper sent home with students or displayed on the district website, the school logo must be sharp and consistent. A well-designed logo that can be effectively applied across different platforms ensures continuity in the school's brand.

While it may not always be feasible to hire a top designer to create an exceptional logo, educators can educate themselves on the principles of great logo design. This knowledge can help guide decision-making and keep the design process on track. The following are key aspects to consider when designing a great school district logo.

A school district's logo is the visual representation of its identity. It is essential that the logo reflects the district's values, goals, and vision. A great school district logo design should be visually appealing, memorable, and timeless. Here are five keys to designing a great school district logo.

1. Keep it simple

A simple logo is essential for easy recognition and recall. A complicated logo can be confusing and difficult to remember. A simple logo is also easier to reproduce and scale, which is important for printing and branding purposes.

You may think that a logo has to be complex because it has to represent all of the areas of your district. A complex design does the opposite, it’s makes it hard to remember. If you use the Apple logo for an example, it stands out and speaks volumes, yet and you can spot an Apple product quickly. A simple logo can be easy to understand at a glance and leave a lasting impression. Simple shapes and colors are all you need.

Another important aspect of a simple logo is how well it reproduces. Your logo will be used in a variety of places, some you don’t have control over the quality. For example, your logo may have to fit nicely on the website but you can’t even recognize it on the nice embroidered polo shirts you spent $30 each on. A simple logo will always transfer nicely – sometimes with adjustments – to a multitude of areas.

2. Make it memorable

Everyone knows your district name, but your logo needs to make it easily recognized visually. A logo should cut through the clutter and be memorable. Making the logo memorable requires a simple symbol that best reflects your school district. For example, if you are known for growth, you may have a design that uses colors like green. If you have a district that focuses on academic excellences, you may use colors like yellow that can symbolize gold or intellect.

Also work toward a clean, simple look that you can remember despite only seeing it for a short period. This is a harmony of shapes, colors and typefaces you use. When done right, it will take very little time for someone to see the logo and make the connection to your school.

3. Tell your story

This can be the hardest part to design but gives the logo purpose. The story may be your mission, philosophy or other key areas that drive your district. A successful logo uses simple symbols and visually speaks your story. For example, a logo may have hands holding one another if your story is fostering development. Or a logo may use a symbol of a star if your focus is on student achievement. Whatever that story may be, your logo needs to communicate it.

Paul Rand, a famous logo designer once said, “I was too practical to want to be a painter.” I believe what he meant is he can tell a story that serves to a function. A story that you would expect.

When designing a logo for your district, make sure to establish a clear goal and understanding of what logo needs to achieve. This can be done by capturing feedback from a survey to stakeholders. Make sure the design answers the question of the goals you establish.

4. Use minimal colors

To make a logo memorable and stand out, it is best to use minimal colors. A logo with too many colors can come off complex and unprofessional. However, there are exceptions to the rule but 2-3 colors typically works best. I’ve seen a lot of nice district logos that utilize multiple colors to tell their story. For example, you may use 4 colors to symbolize diversity. which is an important trait of many school districts.

Using too many colors can also be a problem with reproducing. First, many colors can increase the cost for printing. Secondly, many colors will not translate to a black and white version, which is required for many uses.

5. Make it timeless

A great district logo is not dated and can stand the test of time. A district logo needs to appeal to a broad range to people – students, parents, faculty, staff and the community. Therefore, it is important not to be trendy and communicate to the masses. Be careful not to tie your design around an object that may not be around over time or evolves. For example, you may not want to have a symbol of your building, your district may build a new one down the road.

Many school districts may have an old logo that they updated periodically over the years to adapt to the current time. Ideally a good logo will not require much refinement but this is not uncommon. Many corporations and large institutions tweak or update their logos over time with subtle refinements. If you look at a company like “John Deere”, they have evolved the logo over the years but still retained the basic design and colors.


A good school logo is as much science as it is art. Probably even more science, really. If your school needs a new one, check with a professional. But don’t be taken in with an overproduced, too-colorful, complicated execution of a logo that doesn’t tell your school story.

Keep it simple, avoid the cliche, and insist on a distinctive, memorable logo that accurately and artfully reflects your school.


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Topics: Marketing School Districts

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About the author

As co-founder of SchoolNow, Steve believes behind every great school is great communication. He's on a mission to continue to simplify communications for school administrators and help them boost engagement with parents and the entire school community.