The Olentangy Local School District has a new look – one district leaders believe was overdue.
At the school board's April 11 meeting, the district debuted its new "brand identity," which includes a new overarching logo and a tagline, "Flourish Here."
The new logo is a simpler design than the one it replaced. As described in the district's press release, it resembles a stylized "O" featuring "abstract figures with reaching arms that repeat in a circular star shape."
The logo replaces the silhouetted children logo that had been in place since the early 1990s.
At the unveiling, Superintendent Mark Raiff said the change was a long time coming. He said the rebrand was supposed to be completed earlier, but the district "had some other things get in the way" such as funding initiatives and the opening of new schools.
"It just was time," he said. "We're the sixth-largest district in the state, a high-performing organization. We should have a specific brand."
The district initially planned to use Gahanna-based Rickabaugh Graphics for the project. In January 2018, the school board voted to approve $50,000 in funding for Rickabaugh to complete the work.
Ultimately, Communications Director Krista Davis – who oversaw much of the project – said the district didn't see what it needed from Rickabaugh.
"We were not connecting on the bigger picture: brand pillars, the tagline, really being able to put an understanding of who we are, what we believe and what we value," she said. "It's more than a piece of art; it's the whole identity of the district and being able to articulate that."
That disconnect necessitated a switch to Cult Marketing in Columbus, Davis said. Though it required a bit more funding, she said, Cult worked with the district's team to come in "just over" that $50,000 figure.
Davis said the transition between firms was seamless.
"Cult came into this knowing we were in the situation of wanting to be sure we had the right look and feel for our district," she said.
While a new logo and identity were important for the district, Davis said part of the emphasis on the project will be to have "greater control" over the district's name and licensing.
She said one of the major goals of the rebrand is to create a new revenue stream from memorabilia with the Olentangy logo, which won't be free to use.
"We want to trademark and license our mark, and we're starting with the district, and there's going to be a phase two next year of the buildings," she said. "We want to be able to license those marks and, when we do that, create a new revenue stream. When people are printing our marks on shirts and whatnot, we don't see any of the profit from that. So we'll be able to have a revenue stream through that."
At the unveiling, Raiff said he and board President Kevin O'Brien had identified that idea long before the new logo came about.
"A lot of it started with conversations we had years ago about trying to find another revenue stream," he said. "It grew into something bigger."
"(I remember) walking through Kroger and seeing a row of shirts and cups and glasses," O'Brien replied with a laugh.
For the second phase, individual buildings will get their own identities that will, ideally, fit with the overarching themes of the district, Davis said.
She said it would be about 12 to 18 months before that process is complete.
"I look at the district's brand identity as the umbrella and all the buildings underneath the umbrella," she said. "I want that cohesive feel so that we all know we're part of Olentangy Schools."
Davis said the initial feedback has been almost entirely positive.
She said one parent texted that the logo was "fresh and fun and creative," and said she had received several similar messages of support since.
"The initial reaction from staff and leadership in the district and students has been very favorable," she said. "I've heard things like, 'it's a fresh perspective' or that it really represents who we are."
Regardless of public opinion, Raiff was confident in his belief that the move is the right one.
"There will be a lot of questions from community members: 'Why are we doing this? How much are we spending on it?' All those types of things," he said. "But that phase-in over time, especially at the elementary level, of establishing the brand identity for our elementary (buildings) and moving those forward will be crucial moving forward."