The Assignment

Letter from Dr. Bockman

December 2020

 

Dear Grady High School Community:

Our high school has been a cornerstone institution in Atlanta since 1872.  It has changed its identity before, as the city evolved to reflect new concepts of inclusion and diversity.

It is now time to effect change again.

As you are all aware, in Fall 2020, the Board of Education of Atlanta Public Schools voted to change our name from Henry W. Grady High School to Midtown High School.  This change will go into effect on June 1, 2021.

This is an exciting period as we prepare for this change and develop our logo and visual identity.  The decisions made in the next four months may be in effect decades in the future.  Our intention is for our logo to be authentic, distinctive and recognizable, while also serving a variety of functional needs, from digital platforms to signage to pens.  While we will remain the “Knights” and retain a shade of red as our school color, many other creative decisions need to be made.

The process between now and June is multi-phased.

1.   Assess.  Determine needs, processes and timeline.

2.  Discover.  Conduct listening sessions about our brand tone and logo needs.

3.  Define.  Review feedback and articulate clear creative direction.

4.  Create.  Develop concepts, primary logos, configurations and unit-level logos.

5.  Activate.  Create material with our logo, develop guidelines, train our community.

In January and February 2021 we will begin the “Discovery” process and conduct virtual listening sessions.  During these sessions we will explore the attributes that you believe Midtown High School possesses; these insights will guide the creative direction of the initial logo concepts.  The dates and times of the listening sessions will be made available soon.

In addition, we are collecting information about the way various team members will be using a new logo in their areas.  Please consider sharing information on these two surveys:

Areas of Midtown High School Requiring a New Logo - click here

Functional Logo Needs for Midtown High School  - click here  

We look forward to this being an outstanding, real-world learning process for our students.  Our AP Art students are already deeply engaged in creative exploration.

Finally, I would like to thank John Brandhorst, our Department Chair of the Fine Arts Department.  He has been working closely with colleagues at Atlanta Public Schools, faculty, staff and community volunteers.

Thank you for joining in this process.  Please stay tuned for additional information in the future.

Regards,

 

Dr. Betsy Bockman

Principal

Grady / Midtown High School

The Creative Brief

Midtown High School 

Rebranding Creative Brief

02.18.21

Background: 

“Individually we are different; together we are Midtown High School.”

 

Our mantra since 2001 celebrates what makes Midtown High School unique - a learning environment that leverages the various interests and diverse life experiences of its teachers, students, and administrators. It's “a high-performing school where educators inspire, families engage and students love to learn”. 

 

Located at the heart of the city, Midtown High School is “in the middle of everything.” Adjacent to the Rainbow Crosswalks and across the street from Piedmont Park, Midtown High School is at the center of Atlanta, with an urban home that brings together neighborhoods from Old Fourth Ward to Virginia- Highland to Midtown to Morningside to Home Park and celebrates the diverse communities it honorably serves.

 

At Midtown High School, you’ll find award winning programs from Robotics to Speech/Debate to Strings/Choir, an impressive 90+% 4-year graduation rate, and average ACT/SAT scores that exceed both the Georgia and national student averages. In 2020 alone, students received over $16.5M in scholarships, had double the average acceptance rate at Georgia Tech (45% vs. 22%) , and acceptances to many of the world’s most respected colleges.

 

While “Knights” traditionally hail from medieval times, Midtown’s modern warriors are our present and future cultural leaders inspired by today’s diverse heroes - John D. Lewis, King T’Challa, Jimmy Carter, Stacey Abrams, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marsha P. Johnson, Lizzo, and Bill Gates.

 

While the mantra and academic rigor will carry forward, the Board of Education of Atlanta Public Schools voted to change the name from Henry W. Grady High School to Midtown High School. This change will go into effect June 1, 2021. When the name changes, a new brand identity will be necessary. 

 

Audience: 

Students - Midtown HIgh School is fortunate to have a diverse population* with a wide variety of passions and interests. When the 1,500 Midtown students aren’t studying, they participate in a broad range of extra curriculars from sports to drama and actively contribute to their communities. The students care about the school’s name and logo, because in one student’s words, “they represent us. When other people see you wearing your school’s shirt, they know where you’re from… they know where you go to school. I want that to be a strong representation of our unique culture”.

 

Additionally, the students' lives are full of the universal, timeless characteristics of high school students.  They are busy becoming adults - navigating their social circles, assuming more responsibility in their homes, and exploring potential college and/or career interests. 

 

*Asian - 3%, Black - 38%, Hispanic - 8%, Multi-Ethnic - 4%, White - 47%

 

Atlanta Public Schools / Midtown High School Staff - when the teachers and Midtown/APS administrators are a major part of the strength of the community. As diverse as the students, the staff share their areas of knowledge and offer their unwavering guidance to help positively shape the students’ lives. They are also invested in having a school name and logo that celebrates what makes Midtown High School distinct. 

 

Objective: 

Position Midtown High School as a leading model for grades 9-12 learning and achievement.

 

Strategy: 

Communicate what makes Midtown High School unique, its centrality. This theme emerged from the multiple student and administration listening sessions. 

 

cen·tral·i·ty

/senˈtralədē/

 

1.  the quality or fact of being in the middle of somewhere or something

2. the quality of being essential or of the greatest importance

Midtown High School aptly exhibits these multiple definitions - it is located at the city center, is a meeting point for diverse neighborhoods, and offers the critical lessons/skills that become central to the lives of its students.

The Assignment:

Develop a visual identity to include:
 

  • A single unifying creative concept that has two distinct logo executions, 1) academic logo and 2) sports/spirit logo. See here for a list of college/university examples 

  • Font & color choice

  • Executions must be applicable for, but not limited to, the following: 

    • School sign(s) and environmental graphics

    • School office materials (e.g., stationery, invoices, name tags, PPTX template)

    • Digital  applications (e.g., website, web banners, screen buttons, social media)

 

Considerations:

  • Ability to reproduce the logo in a range of sizes and physical/digital formats (e.g., merchandise - pencils, cups, signs, website, etc.). Solid, simple, bold designs will reproduce most easily. Detailed, intricate designs will not reproduce well across the various needs. 

  • The logo must be developed for a horizontal and vertical format.

  • A full visual identity system will be developed from the chosen logo to represent the many academic units, student groups and individual teams with an appropriate lock-up.

 

Mandatories:

  • Word mark / logo should spell out “Midtown High School”

  • Knights remain the school mascot 

  • Color - Pantone 201C - Stanford Red (may recommend a different color but must be close to this red)

  • Logo cannot be more than three colors including white and must be able to reproduce as one color and black/white versions

  • Primary mark/logo can be a proprietary font. Secondary font(s) must be a free to use

 

Timing / Key Milestones:

March 1       Approved Creative Brief; Brief Designers

March 14     Round 1 Design Deadline

March 15     Rd 1 Design Review (narrow designs to 8-10 concepts)

March 18     Rd 1 Design Feedback Provided

March 28    Round 2 Design Deadline

March 29    Rd 2 Creative Review (narrow to 3-5 concepts)

April 1          Rd 2 Design Feedback Provided

April 14        Final Designs Submitted 

April 16        Approved Visual Identity, including Academic and Spirit Execution

June 1          Formal Transition

August         Midtown High School Student Unveiling & Celebration of new identity

 

Submit by above noted deadlines to: 

John Brandhorst at jbrandhorst@atlanta.k12.ga.us

 

The Team

Leadership Team
  • Dr. Betsy Bockman, Principal, Grady/Midtown High School

  • John Brandhorst, Co-Chair, Chair of Fine Arts Program, Grady/Midtown High School

  • Bill Goodman, Director of Multi-media and Brand Design, Atlanta Public Schools

  • Carrie MacBrien, Assistant Principal, Grady/Midtown High School

  • Marlon Pilson, Business and Entrepreneurship Department

  • Kottavei Williams, Art and Fashion Department

  • Thaddeus Roberts, Audio-Video Technology and Film

  • Raymond Dawson, Assistant Principal

Student Team
  • Adeline Diem
  • Gigi Fisher

  • Richard Aytch

  • Beyonce Mccrary

  • Joanna Baker

  • Emma Menzies

  • Keaton Tsepas

  • Sophia Maxim

  • Lillian Wilson

  • Ahva Minina

Advisory Team
  • Brynn Bardacke, Global Marketing Director, Google;  Previously Vice President of Content & Creative Excellence, The Coca-Cola Company

  • Jan Beckley, Directed Visual Identity Program, University of Georgia

  • Stacey Berg, Co-Founder / Brand Specialist, The Pitch Partners; Previously Director of Innovation / New Products, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

  • Warren Crawley, City Graphix LLC

  • Karri Hobson-Pape, Executive Director, The Alliance; Previously Vice President of Marketing & Communication, University of Georgia

  • Sara Lawrence, Design Emporium

  • John Offutt, PTSA President 2020-2021

  • Anne Steib, PTSA Vice President of Communication 2020-2021

Feb 21, 2021 Zoom Meeting Link: https://atlantapublicschools-us.zoom.us/rec/share/NYXh0a8AUILxsFshxKY4sKV_bL0pYGPM0W4NJc6osliiViN1-Jrcbk-CAXbgeAqY.BH0B_PV9qu1FARu0 Passcode: .17JUpNK

 

The Stakeholders

The Extended Family

Alumni

Knight Fans

APS Leadership

The Public

Peer high schools

Colleges & Universities

Donors

Employers

Retailers

Press and media

Atlanta taxpayers

The MHS Family

Current students and families

Teachers, staff and 

administration

The Future Family

Cluster students

Cluster families

Other prospective students

 

The Guiding Principles

 

At its core, our visual identity is our reputation. It represents who we are as a school and stands for our aspirational goals and ideals. It embodies our values as perceived by the general public, our students, our faculty and staff, our alumni and our friends. The following principles will guide us through the process.

Distinctive &

Authentic

  • The visual identity must represent the unique spirit, people and positive traditions of an institution.

  • It is important to scan the landscape to ensure it is bold and distinct among a very crowded set of peers and competitors.

Functional

  • A full inventory of all needs must guide the creative approach.  The common and future uses must guide the simplicity/complexity of design.

  • Digital use and environmental graphics are of greater priority in design.

  • Logos have multiple configurations (horiz, vert, circular) and color combinations (full color, one-color, knock-out)

Recognizable

  • Color complexity is critical and must be consistent in all uses and application.  Prepare for 3-color process.  Decisions with licensing & manufactures in consideration is important.

  • Proprietary typography in logo improves recognition and awareness.  Secondary fonts should be based on common options so they are convenient and free.

Flexible

  • The visual identity must be versatile enough to be used by all units (academic departments, clubs & associations, athletic teams, alumni groups)

  • Visual elements can emerge from the visual identity ie. shield shape, i-bars, window frame

  • Creating with flexibility in the beginning will reduce costs over time as groups have additional needs

The Process

The approach strikes a balance between exploration, strategy and expression. To accomplish the project’s goals and objectives, design solutions are created by applying an informed, strategic, collaborative, and iterative process.

 

Assess

  • Set Goals

  • Determine Needs (Current Needs + New Construction)

  • Establish Leadership Team

  • Set Process

  • Establish Timeline

Discover

  • Conduct Listening Sessions

  • Explore brand tone

  • Review Current Logos

  • Review Peer & Aspirational HS

  • Review Neighborhood Logos

  • Review ATL Athletics Marks

Define

  • Articulate brand personality

  • Determine functional needs

  • Determine unit level logos

  • Determine color palette

  • Determine association with academics and athletics

  • Develop creative brief

  • Explore logo concepts

  • Informal review of 3 concepts and get input

  • Core Team reviews feedback

  • Consider any issues

  • Decision

Create

  • Design primary logos

  • Develop secondary logos

  • Create color & configuration system

  • Create unit level logos (departments, student organizations, etc,)

  • Produced files

  • Create Templates

Activate

  • Create material with logo usage

  • Train faculty, staff, students

  • Create brand guidelines

  • Create online resource with guidelines and logo files

  • Share information with APS & Midtown High School cluster

  • Share information with all vendors (printers, swag & uniform manufacturers)

  • Roll out licensing program for retail

  • Be good stewards of old material, replacement program