Brand Makeover for the Swift School

October 28, 2009

   Swift cake

    I am proud to announce that the branding makeover of the Swift School is almost complete. The process has taken many months but the results are extraordinary.

    Just to recap, back in April 2009, I was part of the On The House team that donated a total of $100,000 worth of services to a local non-profit organization in Atlanta. The winner of the prize was the Swift School, a non-profit school that serves elementary children with dyslexia.


    The mission of On the House was to give a branding makeover to a non-profit that was doing great work, but was not reaching its full potential due to weak marketing materials. The winner would get a strategy consulting from me, brand identity work, logo design, website design, photography, video production, brochures, printing and trademark counseling all for free.

    It is all too common that companies think that the name, logo, color, tagline, website don't matter. That if you have a good product or service you will succeed no matter what. Well, this is simply not true. Succeeding without a strong brand is enormously difficult.

    The changes that are being implemented right now at the Swift School are going to go a long way in helping to increase the school's visibility and credibility in the community.

    Like most brands, the Swift School is trying to find a way into the mind of the consumer. The way into the mind is always the same, the way in is with a narrow focus.

Here is how the team helped the Swift School:

1. The Name

    Originally the full name of the school was "The Swift School." But the "The" was an extra and unnecessary word that just made the name/logo longer.

    The emphasis should be on the one word that differentiates the brand and that is "Swift." It was recommend that the "The" be taken off the name. And for "Swift" to be the word that is the largest and most visible in the logo.

    Removing the "the" also allows for a shorter and easier to remember website address. I purchased which amazingly was still available. Before the school was using the much longer


2. The Word

    Every brand needs to focus on one word to own in the mind. This is difficult for most for-profit companies to do. It is even more difficult for non-profits which are concerned about being inclusive not exclusive.

    But focusing on a word doesn't mean necessarily leaving anybody out. Brands need to focus on a word so that people can file the brand in the mind. It is easier to file a specific idea than a general idea. Walgreen's is called a "drug" store even though they sell a lot of other stuff and could more appropriately be called a "personal items" store.

    Before the Swift School talked about "serving children with dyslexia and language-based learning differences." While that might be correct, it is way to long. And "language-based learning differences" is too vague. They needed one word that would cover almost all that they do.

    That word is "dyslexia." After all what is dyslexia? Dyslexia is a learning disability that is neurological in origin and is characterized by difficult with accurate and/or fluent word recognition. In other words, dyslexia is a difficulty with reading.

    Dyslexia is the one word that covers it all. It is a word that is already in the media and in the mind. And it is now the word that Swift is focused on.


3. The Tagline and Battle Cry

    Never underestimate the importance of a tagline. A good tagline should become the battle cry for your brand. A memorable call to action for employees, consumers and prospects alike.

    The use of alliteration, repetition and rhyme are all good ways of making your battle cry memorable. For example: Shop till you drop, Toys for Tots, or Loose lips sinks ships.

    The new battle cry for Swift is: Success with Dyslexia Starts Here.

    Obviously the alliteration of Swift, Success and Starts makes it memorable and drives the Swift/Dyslexia connection into the mind.


4. The Color

    Before Swift's
color was dark green. But the uniform colors also offered a choice of
green, blue, burgundy, or white shirts. That is way too many colors. A
strong brand should focus on one color.

    The color selected to focus on was royal blue. The uniforms will only come in a choice of white or navy blue each with the swift name/star.


5. The Symbol.

    The guys at brand identity house Matchstic developed the "Star" as the symbol for Swift. It is very helpful if you can have a visual for your brand. And not just a squiggle that has no meaning but a visual that reinforces an idea in the mind.

    A brand like Nike can get away with just a swoosh, but only because Nike was first in a huge new category and they then backed up that symbol with hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising every year.

For most brands, it is best to use a symbol that has specific meaning and relevance to your brand and sets it apart from the pack. The "hut" for Pizza Hut. The "ticket" for Blockbuster. The "lime" for Corona. The "cowboy" for Marlboro. 

The star is perfect for Swift. The has the alliteration again with Swift. And the designers make it unique my overlaying the "s" and star. The star speaks to the potential of each Swift student to achieve success in school.


5. The Logo.

The logo takes the brand name, symbol, tagline and puts them together in a visual nugget that is then used everywhere. One of the most important things not to forget in a logo is legibility. Way too many designers try to make a logo pretty and forget that people also need to read it. Especially from a distance.

Here is the logo designed by Matchstic:

Logo white 1

6. The other elements

If you have kids in school, you know how critical car magnets are. New Swift car magnets may seem like a trivial element but they are something that will have an immediate and important impact in the community. The magnets are being made by and will arrive next week.

A new blue uniform shirt will be given to each student for the photography and video sessions which will be in November. Kids will still be allowed to wear the old logo shirts for the rest of this year. But all new uniform orders will have the new logo. And next year only the new logo will be allowed.

The website design has been created and is absolutely amazing. When you have a focus and a visual to play with creativity flows. The star is going to be something that can be used across many platforms. A star had such an emotional and relevant impact. The new website will go live in January.

New web site shirt etc_edited-1

It has been a wonderful project to be a part of. On the House has given an amazing school the brand strategy and brand identity it deserves.

Here is a recap of where the Swift School was in terms of its brand identity to where it will soon be.

Old logo and new logo with tag_edited-2 

Swift shirt old new

Car magnet compare

Website compare 


Related posts:

Overview of the On the House Project

The Situation at Swift: My analysis of the branding issues

The Strategy for Swift: A summary of my strategy report

On the House Website

Matchstic Website

Ries & Ries Website

My general advice for marketing a non-profit.