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January 29, 2013

Brand new brand: City school system approves ‘branding’ effort for new logos, fonts, look

CULLMAN — Cullman students and alums, take note — pretty soon the city’s flagship school system will have a whole new look. Not to mention a whole new Bearcat logo and paw print icon.

The Cullman City Schools system recently contracted with John Kelton, of Kelton Design, to develop a branding strategy for the entire district. From logo variations to font selection, Kelton’s branding manual provides a template for how officials hope the system will be represented for decades to come. The branding initiative cost the system $18,828.

“We wanted to go to the next level of excellence in a manner that will reflect our system,” Superintendent Dr. Jan Harris said. “We wanted unified colors and logos that will reflect our high standards.”

Kelton spent the past several months meeting with school officials to generate ideas. The fruits of his labor? A 34-page book that outlines everything from font usage to a new “C” logo. The book also lays out the “Bearcat” color scheme and word marks for school letterhead. Every design is unique to the school system and can be trademarked accordingly.

More than just creating a unified style, Kelton said the branding exercise should help create an “idea” of Cullman that will go beyond a book of designs and rules. For a system than ranks among the best in the state in test scores, Kelton said it wasn’t hard to find a “brand” to build on.

“The strength of the Cullman City Schools brand is already there, with people spending 48 hours in line for a chance to run 100 yards, for a chance to wait in line again to get their kids on a waiting list to get into the school system,” he said. “A brand is more than a logo. It’s what people think about when they say your name.”

Like most high schools, Cullman had previously used a mish-mash of copied logos from college and professional sports teams. For example, the school had previously used the University of Cincinnati’s “C,” and Auburn University’s tiger eye logo.

“This is your ‘C’,” Kelton explained to the board at a recent meeting, showcasing the new designs. “No one else has this.”

 Kelton generated a unique Bearcat logo for the system, which faces headfirst with its mouth open wide, an evolution of the numerous Bearcat concepts that had been used over the years. The new Bearcat mark is already being incorporated into the accent designs of the Cullman High School renovation.

“There was a Bearcat head drawing in a 1948 annual, and we worked from things that had been there before to come up with something unique,” he said. “Now, you have a standard Bearcat that is your Bearcat.”

The system’s new font for word marks is Trajan Pro, headers will be Cambria and body copy will be Calibri. Each school will now have a uniform, matching title logo with set spacing guidelines. The logos will soon be introduced on school letterhead systemwide.

“We saw some early sketches and they were great, but we’ve come a long way,” school board member Suzanne Harbin said. “I think this is excellent.”

Though the new logos will be used immediately where applicable, Harris said the new look will be phased in as old uniforms and equipment is replaced for sports teams.

“Of course we’re not going to be wasteful with what we have,” she said. “As we replace things we’ll start to use this.”

Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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