Salisbury Cathedral School is an old educational establishment. And when we say old, we mean very old. It was founded in 1091 by St Osmund, nephew of William the Conqueror and Bishop of Salisbury, to educate the choristers of his Cathedral.
So when we were tasked by the school to totally redesign their brand identity, it was a project we took on with a great deal of excitement and no little amount of respect for the heritage we were entrusted with. This is true to an extent with any independent school brand – the history and values need to be balanced with the vision and ambition for the future. It’s a challenge we’ve come to relish and hone through working with a number of schools on their brand identities.
Our initial brand discovery sessions with the school highlighted a need to take the identity back to first principles. Rather like a much renewed, yet ancient building, everyone knew it was built on old foundations but nobody could quite remember how it was originally used or what it used to look like. We had a lot of heritage and a whole heap of haziness.
What the school was clear on was their vision for the future. Their own commissioned research had uncovered a great deal of affection among current parents, but a certain resistance from a section of prospective parents around perceived weaknesses. The number one negative perception was a sense of both the fabric and feeling of the school being a touch old fashioned. And this is how the new brand identity needed to re-position the school to address those perceptions. We had some great, positive brand attributes to work with too – a genuine, heart-felt sense of community, an extraordinary musical tradition, a strong Christian ethos and an energetic, young Head Master at the helm.
We began by asking some really simple questions about the brand identity. What did the flower symbol in the logo mean? Could they translate the Latin text for us? Did the shape of the crest have significance? We then discovered, for example, that the Latin motto didn’t really quite make sense – the very heart of the school’s brand was projecting a slightly muddled message.
We also audited all the existing branded literature and materials and found the brand identity was failing from a practical view point too. The sheer complexity and fine detail in the logo for instance was wholly inappropriate for most applications.
The new identity reinterpreted the various historic symbols – the Latin motto, the crest, the flower – into a consistent, vibrant set of brand assets. A new brand logo and logotype with a redesigned lily device and a robust, yet elegant new crest ensured it reproduced well in all contexts. A new colour palette was introduced to provide flexible sub branding possibilities for Prep, Pre-Prep and Boarding. Copy concepts were developed to address findings from the research and challenge perceptions. A full set of guidelines ensured everything stayed on track. We subsequently worked closely with the school to develop their website, advertising campaigns and branded communications.