Superintendent statement regarding branding project

Dear OPRF High School Staff, Students, Families, Alumni, and Community Members,

In the past few days, many of our stakeholders have shared their concerns about an OPRF branding project that we were planning to undertake this fall. The goal of the project was to create consistency and uniformity in the visual representations of our school. 

It was never our intention to eliminate the crest that has been a symbol of OPRF pride for 110 years, the school colors, the Huskie mascot, or the motto Those Things That Are Best.

In fact, gathering stakeholder input was first and foundational in our process. To guide our design decisions, we planned to hold multiple focus groups and a community-wide survey to gather input from faculty, staff, parents, alumni, community members, and—most importantly—our students. As with education in general, OPRF has evolved over the years. Do today’s students see themselves and their stories adequately represented in the visual elements that symbolize OPRF? We really don’t know, and we wanted to listen deeply to find out. In everything we do, student voice is critical.

But so, too, is the broader voice of the OPRF community. We want you to know that we hear you. Change is hard, and clearly we have hit a tender spot. As a result, we will not be proceeding with the branding project. While we still believe that consistency needs to be brought to our visual identity, controversy over the project would simply be too much of a distraction from our primary focus: ensuring excellence and equity for all students. 

Thank you to those of you who shared your concerns with me and with the board; as always, we value your feedback. Please see below for FAQs that we hope will provide further explanation.

Sincerely, 
Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams
Superintendent

 

Frequently Asked Questions

I heard OPRF is getting rid of the crest and the school colors. Is this true?

It was never our intention to eliminate the crest that has been a symbol of OPRF pride for 110 years, the school colors, the Huskie mascot, or the motto Those Things That Are Best.

Then why have I been hearing that the school is “rebranding”?

There was never a plan to abandon any of the historical elements of the OPRF brand. In the 110 years since the crest was created, the high school has never had any branding guidelines in place. Over the years virtually anyone has been able to create visual elements and use them to represent the high school. Today more than a dozen different images—including various paw prints, husky dogs, emblems, etc.—are randomly being used to represent the school. This creates visual clutter and confusion and does not adequately represent what OPRF has always stood for: Those Things That Are Best.

To create clarity and consistency,  the communications department announced in spring 2019 that it planned to work with an outside firm to establish a unified visual identity and create a “brand book,” or guidelines for using visual elements to represent the school. Due to public concern, however, the superintendent announced in July 2019 that the district would not be pursuing the project. 

As a public school, OPRF basically has a captive audience. Why does it need branding?

Branding creates culture. It is less about “selling” ourselves and more about telling our story and communicating our collective identity. It is not only about what you see (crest, colors, mascots, taglines), but also what you believe and how you feel when you see those elements. Clear branding is important to recruiting efforts for talented teachers, staff, and administrators, and to attracting new families to our community. Inconsistent visual representations of our school communicate to the world a lack of clarity about our identity. Creating uniform branding that honors tradition while showcasing modern-day OPRF and our aspirations for the future is a way to do this. 

Were you going to ask the community for input?

Absolutely. Gathering stakeholder input was first and foundational in our process. To guide our design decisions, we planned to hold multiple focus groups and a community-wide survey to gather input from faculty, staff, parents, alumni, community members, and—most importantly—our students. That feedback would have guided all design decisions.

Why hire a consulting firm and not just have students design the logo?

Based on the groundswell of feedback, the emotional attachment our stakeholders have to the crest and motto speaks to the importance of this being handled professionally. Furthermore, market research was a critical piece of the process, and for that we needed experts. However, it was always our intent to make the most of this learning opportunity and involve our graphic design students in the creation of visual elements, particularly for our 90+ school clubs and activities. While we are abandoning the branding project, we plan to explore having our design students help create consistency in visual elements such as, for instance, the typefaces and secondary colors (i.e., besides orange and blue) used in letterhead and newsletters.

I was in favor of this project, and I am disappointed you are not pursuing it. Why not continue?

This was a difficult decision. It’s a delicate balance to simultaneously honor tradition while also creating a welcoming environment for today’s students. We still believe that consistency needs to be brought to our visual identity. However, controversy over the project would simply be too much of a distraction from our primary focus: ensuring excellence and equity for all students.