An education in visual identity

Moseley_CollectionGordon Brown wasn’t wrong when he said schools could be a ‘catalyst for change’. We saw it with our very own eyes at Moseley Primary School in Coventry. As a newly rebuilt eco-friendly school, the potential for change was great.

We were privileged to be able to develop a new visual identity for the school working alongside the architects, CPMG.

We took inspiration from the building work and motivations of the teaching staff and school governors. We also spent time running special workshops for pupils and teachers to find out more about the improvements and to understand the insider’s view of their new school. We came away with stacks of visual and written material which enabled us to come up with a design solution.

We think the design reflects a vision that is modern, astute, future facing and environmentally responsible. It communicates clearly to both adults and pupils, creating a sense of pride in a school that belongs to the local community. In fact they were amazed that design consulting could result in a visual identity capable of communicating complex architectural, social, cultural and education issues using, in their words, “just symbols and typography”.

The final design route achieved the above surprise by compressing multiple layers of representation, each reflecting the specific elements of the design problem. First it focused on growth and germination as metaphors for the learning process. Second, the visual identity reflected the functional elements of the new eco-build, such as the recycled rainwater and a sedum roof. Third, the identity used a non-gendered and ethnicity-neutral pictogram signifying an individual reading a book. Fourth, we derived the colour palette from organic matter such as soil, plants and water. And finally, the typography is simultaneously modern and legible; yet friendly and inclusive.

A year on, we were invited back to the school by the headteacher to see how they’d used their new identity. The pupils sung us a song and presented us with a bookmark to say thanks.

‘Thanks for everything. The kids really love the identity and they’re proud of it. I know that’s true because parents have told me.”

Arlene Wood, Headteacher