A number of workshops are underway as Waunakee community and school district members work with a consultant to design one consistent brand and logo.
In May, the Waunakee school district’s board of education approved a contract with Nathan Chow of Foundry, a graphic designer and consultant who has designed brands and logos for other school districts and companies in Wisconsin. He has begun to lead workshops, inviting participants to brainstorm the district’s strengths and offer input on the many existing logos.
Chow has discovered 20 different logos for the district through a quick Google search. Adaptation of logos is common in sports, said Brian Hoefer, who worked at Edgewood College as it arrived at its logo and brand.
“Each sport want to put a little twist on it, so it stands out,” he said. As a result, logos can become stretched and not uniform.
“With a brand, you want people to know and recognize that it’s Waunakee,” Hoefer said.
Hoefer is the Waunakee school board member on the district’s core branding committee, which comprises school administrators, representatives of the K-6, 7-8 and 9-12 staff, parents, a community/business leader and coaches. Once Chow has gathered information from the workshops and created a logo, the core committee will help guide the final design.
The Waunakee school board had discussed creating a brand for the district with one consistent logo, a process that they timed with the hiring of communications director Anne Blackburn. Hoefer said the important part of the process is finding the district’s identity and what the school community wants that identity to be 50 years from now.
Part of the conversation has involved Native American imagery associated with the logos, leading school board members and administrators to consider whether the district’s imagery has truly honored the Ho Chunk nation, Hoefer said.
“We want to make sure we are representing them the way that they want to be represented, and to make sure everyone feels welcome when they come into our district,” Hoefer said. “If we don’t, we’re not doing our job.”
Clear communication was another consideration, and both Hoefer and the district’s communication director said after the branding process is complete, the next step will likely be to examine the district’s website.
Chow has convened workshops with the board of education, the core branding committee and the administration team this month.
Hoefer said Chow pointed out the difference between logos and mascots, and asked about the pros and cons of each currently in use. He also asked how members viewed the district’s strengths and challenges and tasked the core committee to listen to how the district is talked about at games and events.
“How do people identity with Waunakee and what are they saying?” Hoefer asked
So far, Chow has heard similar themes from workshop participants, Blackburn said, including tradition, family and community.
In the end, Hoefer believes one color code, purple, will be decided on. He foresees a mascot logo and an academic logo, similar to the University of Wisconsin’s branding.
A policy with criteria will be developed to guide cocurricular organizations and booster clubs as they incorporate the logo into their communications, but any iterations will need the district’s approval.
The Sun Prairie School District had guidelines for their cocurricular organizations to foster a sense of consistency, Blackburn said.
In the end, Hoefer anticipates the new logo will retain the district’s tradition.
“I don’t think we’ll get away from purple, and I don’t think we’ll get away from the Warriors,” he said, adding that the term is not specific to any ethnicity.