At the end of June, a very interesting tweet caught our eyes. Aaron Libby, Mesquite ISD’s graphics coordinator showed new logos for four of the ISD’s schools.
— Aaron Libby (@Big_Libbowski) June 30, 2022
Naturally, since logos are kind of a big deal around here, we reached out to Libby to get an understanding of the entire process of a district-wide rebrand – a two-year operation that began with North Mesquite High School in 2020 and trickled through the rest of the schools.
As you can see, four of the schools underwent drastic redesigns with Poteet carrying over a lot of the same elements as the prior version.
We chatted with Libby about the entire process – from getting the process off the ground to finalizing the look for each school. As you’ll read below, it was quite the undertaking for Libby and the team.
The first question from a designer perspective, how would you call what has been done with the Mesquite ISD logos: Refresh or rebrand?
A majority of our logos are 20 plus years old; we thought that our district could use a fresh and modern take on visual branding for the campuses. A few of the campuses had logos from the 1960’s that had never been updated to keep up with the times. The logos appeared somewhat hand drawn and vintage.
Another factor was that some of the athletic logos were actually collegiate logos. So we ran into some trademark issues and wanted to avoid any lawsuits from colleges.
We wanted to create a logo that could be used both as a campus logo and an athletic logo so they could have cohesive branding across the board.
How did the conversation come about to rebrand all of the Mesquite ISD schools?
It all started as a way to not get in trouble by using trademarked material from other brands. We wanted to create something that was new and genuine within Mesquite ISD.
Was it a situation where only one was going to be rebrand and then it was decided to do them all?
Yes and no. In the beginning, we only had expectations of rebranding the campuses that were using collegiate logos for branding. However, it snowballed into doing all of them so that we can have an updated look and feel district-wide.
If so, what was the first school?
North Mesquite was the first campus that we rebranded due to trademark concerns. For North, I actually traced around the previous Stallion head as a nod to the original logo.
What was it about the previous set of logos that needed a rebrand?
I think it was really just the vintage look and feel that they all had. I think that creating a timeless logo can be a very hard thing to accomplish. While I definitely respect what was created before, I think it was time to bring the campuses up to date with a more contemporary design that could be updated as the years go on.
One of the things that I had in mind was that the new logos would be modern, but also flexible enough to be updated 30 or 40 years down the road.
How did the creative process get started?
With all of the logos we start with a research phase so that we’re not duplicating anything that’s out there. We research professional, college, and other high school logos so that we can be as original as possible. I usually start off sketching things by hand and then develop 3 or 4 concepts to bring to my director before presenting to the campuses.
Did you use any outside creative consultation or did you have a vision for each logo from the start?
I usually have a vision of where I would like it to go from the start. But that will usually change after doing focus groups with the staff and students. We chose a select few to show our ideas to and gather feedback and critiques for revisions. We found the feedback to be incredibly insightful in the design process. We wanted to create something that students wouldn’t mind having on a t-shirt, uniform, hoodie, etc. The focus groups, in a way, acted as consultants for us.
Did you leverage any stock websites to create the logos?
All of our logos are hand drawn in Illustrator. We wanted to be as original as possible in our rebranding process.
How many iterations of each were created before settling on a final design?
After we presented 3 to 4 versions of the logo to campuses, they picked one that they liked. Then there were around 3-5 revisions before landing on a final concept. Sometimes it was color revisions, or the way the eyes looked, or things like, should the Jaguar have whiskers.
Again, the focus groups were a huge help in determining which way we should go.
Was there a design language you were charged with sticking with or did each logo have its own?
My vision from the start was to create logos that were modern, timeless, and new.
I wanted to use heavy lines and designs that would look great in both 1 color and 4 color versions.
What was the hardest part about refreshing/rebranding the logos?
Not everyone was a fan of the rebranding process. Some of the alumni were a little resistant to the new designs. I think they held onto the logos that they graduated with for sentimental value. A few of the comments on social media were a little harsh. But, we wanted to look forward and create something that future generations in Mesquite would cherish and be proud of.
If there was piece of advice you could offer to other ISDs looking to refresh/rebrand, what would it be?
I think the key to our success was getting feedback from the staff and students. Their input definitely helped make our logos better. I think it’s extremely important to gather the thoughts of the alumni and the current students to create something that will work from both angles.