For the past six months, the communications office has led a review of Woodberry’s visual brand — things like logos, colors, and fonts.
It is difficult to perfectly represent a place like Woodberry, where we have 134 years of history and tradition to lean on, balanced by a need to ensure we are relevant to audiences who may not yet know us. But we have attempted to do that through a two part review — one considering our school-wide logos, and the other looking at the world of athletics.
For this project we partnered on the school-wide review with Creosote, a branding agency that has extensive experience working with independent schools. In the world of athletics we worked with Brandiose, a sports-focused branding agency that has worked with a wide range of professional franchises, colleges, and high schools.
We began the project by surveying students, faculty, and alumni about all of the logos and marks currently used by the school. We wanted to hear which ones resonate strongly with different groups, and if certain logos were strongly associated with certain areas of school life, like athletics. Then a group of 10 people, including representatives from the communications, athletics, admission, and alumni/development offices, worked with the agencies to review what our logos should be and how we might best wish to use them.
In the area of school-wide logos, our work affirmed that the school seal should remain the school’s primary logo. The seal is part of our history, is well-known, and is well-liked by all audiences. There are some instances, however, where the seal does not display well. We have created a new wordmark that includes the shield and scroll from the shield. These elements can be paired with “Woodberry” or “Woodberry Forest School” in certain circumstances. The new wordmark, because it is drawn from the seal, reflects what works best about that logo and provides us a complementary option.
In exploring our athletics logos, we had two priorities: Create a new Tiger logo, and explore if the W-Paw logo in use the past fifteen years offered the best representation of our sports teams. We wanted anything we did in athletics to reflect the importance of sports at Woodberry, but also our belief that athletics is part of a well-rounded education that includes academics, the arts, and our residential life on campus.
Our group considered athletic brands, especially at the collegiate level, that we felt match our own. They tend to be schools that are simple, not flashy, with colors and looks that feel timeless. Examples include Princeton, Alabama, and Penn State. As we talked about how a Tiger logo might look, we agreed it should be strong, noble, and calculated, rather than mean or aggressive.
Finally, we looked at our athletic history. From our earliest days, many Woodberry teams have worn a block W, usually in solid orange. This W, which alumni will recognize from the letters awarded to varsity athletes, appears on uniforms in the early 1900s, on letterman’s sweaters in the 1940s, and on hats or other paraphernalia on a regular basis.
However, a solid orange W risks not being distinctive and easily distinguishable from other school’s logos. Lots of schools and colleges use a block W, including at least one using an orange block W. We considered other iconic Woodberry symbols and talked with Brandiose about the history of the Woodberry tie, how new boys wear the black tie before switching to the orange and black. We eventually decided to incorporate the tie stripes on our school tie into the W.
We believe this new W gives a unique look to our athletics logo that draws on Woodberry’s history. You will see it on the new floor of the Dick Gym and on athletic uniforms in the coming months and years. There will undoubtedly be a transition period. To be sound stewards of the school’s resources, we will replace uniforms on our regular timelines, meaning we will continue to wear our old logos in some sports for a few years. Over time, however, you will see more of the new W, and the new tiger logos, across campus and on our uniforms.
Adjusting any brand or logo is difficult. We believe this is the best look for Woodbery going forward. We know some of the logos we are phasing out have their fans. On a personal level, I know I will continue to wear two of my old baseball hats — one I wore as a player in the early 2000s, and one I wore as a coach in recent years — even though both have logos that will no longer be in use. They remain special to me, and I know some of our old logos are special to some of you.
Ultimately, however, we believe the outcomes of this project represent Woodberry in the best possible way, both as an entire school and through our athletics programs. Working together as a group that knows Woodberry well, and in partnership with outside experts, we believe we are honoring the school’s tradition and history while putting forward a look that will excite current students, as well as boys yet to come.