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A new look? CCA considers branding idea

TIFFIN –Ray Willoughby, Clear Creek Amana (CCA) School District’s Construction Manager, typically gives a briefing on the progress of the construction projects to the board during their monthly meeting. On Wednesday, Feb. 18, the Facility Oversight Task Force gave the board a presentation on, well…presentation.
“We have this beautiful blue block on the end of our new high school. Some folks love it, some maybe aren’t quite as fond as others,” said Dr. Paula Vincent, Superintendent of the CCA School District. “How would it look if there was an aluminum-type sign, or something rather distinctive, that says ‘Clear Creek Amana Community Schools,’ or a logo, so that the blue is still there but maybe not quite as intense?” Vincent asked the board.
She explained this prompted school officials to revisit a discussion that has taken place intermittently over the years:
“Do we really have a logo? Do we have consistency (in branding)? We really don’t.” Vincent noted. Shawn Lueth of Shive-Hattery heard her comments, and offered to assist. “Show us what you can do” was her reply and challenge.
Lueth and Andre Wright were present to show the board a design concept potentially useful not only to enhance the new building, but as Vincent noted, also as “a distinctive brand for the district.”
Lueth told the board that Shive-Hattery had spent four to five months working on a design and had provided a number of options. Feedback guided them to create the logo they presented last week. Dr. Vincent said she wanted the board to look at the design to see if it has potential, and added she also was looking for some guidance on where to go next.
Wright described the design and rationale behind the newly styled, modern-looking clipper ship.
“We met with your group, and we came up with something that says excellence,” Wright said. “That’s our thought process, how do we show excellence?” he continued. “It’s forward thinking with the aerodynamics, and the way it’s moving; it says we’re heading toward excellence.”
Wright explained the concept of movement is incorporated into the letter forms and the movement of the ship. “We wanted to use a really distinctive and bold font to identify athletics, but at the same time, we wanted to be able to have this adapt to many things like your community school district,” Wright said as he showed variations on the logo.
“We wanted to bring a modern look,” Lueth said, “something a little bold, a little identifiable, something they want to be a part of. That was our goal.”
“We’re taking a clipper ship and really giving it a different perspective, a different feel,” Lueth explained, adding “It’s more along the performing arts, more along the artsy side of things as well.”
The pair showed a mock-up of letterhead stationary, business cards, and the district’s website.
Lueth also revealed a composite photo of the logo in aluminum finish on the blue tile wall, to show how it could look on the new school building. According to Lueth, the sign would be approximately 20 feet long and eight feet tall and made of quarter-inch thick brushed aluminum surface-mounted to the wall.
“Our biggest goal was to create something identifiable; people are going to know that it’s here, it’s Clear Creek Amana,” Lueth said.
Vincent asked the board for their input, noting while the idea started with the new building, there is no one standard throughout the district for letterhead. The current logo of the clipper ship was taken from a clip-art package. She added the lack of a unified look was perhaps representative of divisions within the district.
Vincent suggested a new look could be a rallying point, bringing the district together.
Board reactions varied from Betsy Momany’s enthusiastic “I love it,” to Kathy Zimmerman’s “I thought it was a whale flipper, then I thought it was a power boat with sails…it doesn’t make sense.”
“I’m excited about having an identifier on the building,” Momany added, explaining how many schools in the area do not have prominent signage, making them difficult to identify.
After more discussion, the board reached a general consensus to approve the final product. President Schaapveld then floated another idea.
“I don’t think we should make any decision. I think the students should,” Schaapveld said. “I really think this is a major decision. I’d like to make it quick, and the reason why is we have a gym floor that has to be finished,” he added, feeling there are some things that should be incorporated into the school’s design before it’s completed.
Much discussion ensued as the board members debated polling the students about the current design, having students come up with a new design, and even whether or not it was too late to introduce a whole new branding initiative. It was mentioned the district had started and stopped the branding process several times in the past, without a final result. The question of how to include the various communities that make up the district was raised, and it was even briefly suggested a completely new name may be in order to truly unify the district.
“This is why we stopped the last time,” an exasperated Momany said, “and I don’t want to stop again.”
Schaapveld recommended a committee be formed to create a broad-based decision, drawing input from students, parents, administration, and the board. After much more discussion,
Schaapveld suggested “we throw this back in Paula’s (Vincent) court,’’ with the caveat that board members with ideas or other input should feel free to contact her directly.