A new identity for a new Academy

Author: Andy Hartwell

We’ve been working with Victoria Park primary school to create a visual identity for their new academy status. The school is the first in its area to be awarded academy status and we worked with the pupils to develop a concept for the launch in April.

Through a series of workshops with the School Council (pupil reps from each year) we designed a logo that would translate in print, online, on uniforms and create a wayfinding system for the grounds.

During the first workshop we split the children into groups and brainstormed ideas of what the school meant to them, and words / objects they associated it with. It was clear they admire the diversity in the local area and the strong community spirit. The school prides itself upon its location; within a multicultural city but surrounded by green space. This is something the pupils were extremely fond of, the links the school has to the adjoining (Victoria) park too, and their involvement with the events held there.

We began to explore directions that linked the park with the community. During the first workshop the pupils spoke about planting bulbs in the springtime, which led our research into leaves, flowers and the like. Analysing the family of organic life present in the park, representing the neighbourhood and mix of cultures/ backgrounds. We found seeds and their arrangment interesting, as they represent the beginning of a development process, mirroring how the school is positioned as the place for children to grow and flourish during their education.

Looking at sunflower seeds in particular we admired the beautiful pattern they create, naturally. This botanic process arranges the seeds to create what is called a ‘Phyllotactic spiral’ – that repeats as it grows. Plants, trees and flowers grow new cells in spirals. It happens naturally because each new cell is formed after a turn. “New cell, then turn, then another cell, then turn…”

The formation of the seeds creates three different spirals; gently sloping (21), steeper spirals (34) and very steep spirals (55) – all of these are consecutive Fibonacci numbers. The Golden Ratio (1.61803…) is the best solution to this, and the Sunflower has found this solution in its own natural way.

Developing the concept we began to recognise more characteristics that resembled the school, other than the organic qualities and growth. We liked the way the seeds sit closely together; each has its own positioning and identity yet together they work as a whole.

We presented our ideas and concept for discussion with the School Council. One pupil said he could visualise the logo with lots of children holding hands. These diagrams hold a close resemblance to this joining of hands. The equal distances and proportions suggest equality, something the school is proud of. We explained how each seed could represent a child, a nationality or a language. The pupils liked the idea of picking themselves out, so we went with 472 seeds.

Proudly home to over 40 languages the school has vast cultural diversity. Due to the variety of backgrounds the children are from, it is important to choose a font with great legibility – a sans serif typeface. We explored Whitney, with its clear letterforms and different weight options, meaning it’s versatile whilst its humanist characteristics give warmth, veering away from mechanically produced forms.

We created our own spiral, made from 472 dots – each representing a child from the Academy. We paired with the font and colour palette and through an iterative design process we created the logo, supplying brand guidelines to ensure correct usage and consistency across medias.

Working closely with our supplier we developed a wayfinding system with the new identity for the school exterior. Installing a curved face mono system, 350mm built up powder coated letters and post signs. The logo was designed into the new uniforms and we designed and built a new website for the school. With accessibility in mind, the site has a responsive width and google translation available for the multi-language pupils and parents. It’s also easier to use for the teachers and enables them to toggle a site-wide alert banner to give urgent updates incase of emergency or school closure. All why working seamlessly with the rest of the new brand and identity.