Logo part of district’s bid to sway minds, perhaps votes

In a perfect world, the ultimate benefit of a successful rebranding and marketing campaign for School District 51 could be to sway voters the next time the school district asks them to
approve a bond measure.

“Obviously, that’s one potential positive of community engagement and outreach, but selling a bond is more of a political activity,” District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. “This has been going on for six years.”

Seventy-eight percent of the people living in District 51, and paying a portion of their property taxes to the district, don’t have children attending school in the district, Kirtland said.

The district’s challenge: maintaining visibility to that portion of the community, Kirtland said.

“The district hasn’t historically been in the position of competing for taxpayer’s attention,” Kirtland said. “Much of the info they’re receiving is biased in a lot of ways. We want to provide context to our stakeholders on education.”

The first step of the marketing effort came last month with the unveiling of a new district logo. The simple design reads “School District 51 Mesa County Valley,” with the district’s slogan, “Every student, every day, learning for life” bound across the top by a shooting star.

Superintendent Tim Mills said in the district’s graphic-standards manual the slogan promises the community a district of “rigorous and relevant curriculum and where all students are successfully learning.”

Kirtland said the redesign cost $2,700 to complete, and the process began about a year ago.

Focus groups of parents and business owners, along with survey results from polls conducted over the summer, point to a lack of education about local education, Kirtland said. And perception of the district is lowered further by things such as low standardized test scores, he said.

“A logo is that first visual image that we tend to get. You are refining the essence of (what) your organization is trying to accomplish into one image,” said Tim Hatten, a marketing professor at Mesa State College. “District 51 accomplishes a variety of stuff, and most of it is intangible, so there is a challenge to communicate that.”

Amy Jordan, spokeswoman for the Grand Junction Regional Airport, said the airport redesigned its logo when it changed its name from Walker Field in May 2007, and the new logo has brought a new level of professionalism to the airport.

“It has really helped us with recognition and orients us to Grand Junction,” Jordan said.

“We aren’t some field where nobody knows where we are. We are an airport.”

The new school district logo already adorns the district Web site and all electronic communication, but the district first plans to use up all of its business cards, letterheads and anything else with the old logo, a red mesa enclosed in a circle,.

Printing new materials will be cheap, Kirtland said, because all printing for the district is done in-house. Kirtland said the new logo corrects inconsistencies in the district’s “look.”

When the old logo was reproduced, Kirtland said, sometimes the font would be changed, the district slogan would be missing, or there were other inconsistencies, all of which the graphic standards manual for the new logo prohibits.

“Consistency across communication is essential,” Hatten said. “If you don’t have consistency, why even have a logo?”

The district is in “fact-finding mode” to find strategies to increase the amount of information sent to people on a daily basis outside of the district, as well as ways to pay for that communication, Kirtland said.

All that is great, said Scot Stewart, owner of Vistar Creative Media and a parent with a child in District 51, but he wonders if redesigning the logo is an efficient use of money.

“My 11-year-old son just informed me that from now on he has to pay extra for mayonnaise at lunch,” Stewart wrote in an e-mail to The Daily Sentinel. “Seems a little foolish right now
when everyone is really experiencing some economic heartache ... including the school district.”


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