Bryan Collegiate High School
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Original Content and Problem:
Fidelis designers faced a big problem when we set about re-designing Bryan Collegiate High School: nobody knew how great the high school was! Collegiate is a US News and World Report top 100 High School, recently won back-to-back BISD Teacher and Administrator of the Year, touts the highest state rating standards, boasts impressive college-placement rates, etc. Even so, the high school sat unnoticed in the community at large. It was overshadowed by the larger, comprehensive high schools in town and the campus facility signage out front actually confused the public about the school within!
Even worse, the student and faculty didn’t know who they were when they were on the campus. The principal/administrators felt it was time for something new. Their leadership helped present an opportunity for creative change. The years had layered a mish-mash of messaging in the hallways and t-shirts. The graphics and slogans were a jumbled pile of confusion. Little of the original staff remained after nearly a decade in existence, so earlier initiatives often failed to transition to new cohorts. We counted six different graphic representations of the mascot, spotted all manner of color schemes, and noticed the general lack of awareness about what distinguished college-prep students!
Graphics must reflect the values and mission of the organization. We set about identifying who Collegiate is in the community. Though they have a soccer club, the campus primarily builds academic virtues and university-level skill sets into high school students. Kids learn how to govern themselves, adopt study habits, and progress through coursework at a faster pace than other campuses. This happens quickly because students find themselves immediately thrust into classes at Blinn College down the street. It’s a steep learning curve — but Collegiate students enjoy the prestige of personal accomplishment in the classroom. We knew academic virtues and elite training were going to be the foundation of the internal/external messaging. Collegiate needed students to know these virtues from heart and internalize them. Faculty would reference them often and they would be displayed across the campus.
The campus and building was dedicated to the community in 1957. The start of that school year saw the success of the Russian satellite “Sputnik” — it began the “atomic age” and mid-century fonts are FUN! We were going to honor the founding year of the campus itself with a letter set that harkened back to the historical roots of that era: classic and somehow futuristic at once. We looked around and found a great font in brandon grotesque. It looks excellent in capital form, as you see in the signage. It scales up and down wonderfully. It was exactly what we were looking for — the font set communicates institutional prestige, but it is also compatible with the academic excellence/virtues that needed development.
When we put into the design files, it really popped.
Collegiate receives institutional/financial support from Texas A&M University and Blinn College. Each entity had their own HEX numbered color pallets and we wanted to honor them in the re-design process. Their colors are the primary colors of our branding. The secondary colors needed to complement the primary, of course — we felt the baby blue chevron on the crest worked well with the stronger maroon color. The interior building re-design made substantial use of the secondary colors as accents on walls/fabrics/signage.
We simply had to have a school crest. The crest is prep-school chic and that’s a risky move when you are located in central Texas where “pass-interference” is everyone’s first word from the crib. We knew that. We also knew Collegiate is part of the public ISD and elitism, as a rule, is terribly off-putting. We knew a crest might create alienation or confusion in the community, but the crest needed to be part of that visual expression. The latin phrasing ran similar risks, but also seemed to import a “Harry Potter” cool to an otherwise simple design layout. We think it works well and the students went crazy for it. Win!
Latin translation: always growing, always learning, always serving
The changes coincided with significant capital investment by the ISD. The building received a much-needed face-lift during the summer of 2016. The messaging and color pallet were integrated into the school culture. New staff were brought up to speed and veteran staff members embraced the messaging they helped create. Lastly, the signage changed to match the quality within the campus — a very big win!
- Courage :
a readiness to persist in thinking or communicating in the face of fear, including fear of embarrassment or failure
- Tenacity :
a willingness to embrace intellectual challenge and struggle — we keep our “eyes on the prize” and we never give up
- Autonomy :
capacity for active, self-directed thinking — we have an ability to think and reason for ourselves
- Curiosity :
a disposition to wonder, ponder, and ask why — we have a thirst for understanding and a desire to explore
- Open-Mindedness :
an ability to think outside the box — we give a fair and honest hearing to competing perspectives
- Humility :
a willingness to own up to one’s intellectual limitations and mistakes — we are unconcerned with intellectual status or prestige
A campus with more school pride and awareness in the community — a jewel of the school district finally looks the part.