Below: Before and After Images in Slide Show, Videos, Summary, Credits
As a K-12 independent school in Santa Monica, CA, New Roads School inhabits a robust education market in west Los Angeles. New Roads must simultaneously compete with prestigious name-brand private schools and sought-after public options.
We began collaborating during a turbulent period. A new Head of School stood ready to lead the community toward stability after years defined by leadership turnover, campus relocation, and a legal battle that put stress on resources.
We considered their unique legacy. New Roads was founded as a social necessity, addressing inequity by spending more than double what their competitors spend on financial aid to ensure an authentically diverse community. Given a marketplace in which their tony competitors made specious claims about diversity — plus a bland brand that lacked inspiration — we reimagined an evocative visual language that boldly asserts New Roads’ core purpose.
We needed to compel prospective families while reviving internal enthusiasm. We had to consider the school’s financial reality due to their emphasis on providing aid, especially in a sector rife with institutions of privilege pantomiming inclusivity to stay relevant.
Culturally and socially, we understood that the school’s dedication to social activism resonated deeply in 2019. We leveraged this culture of activism for our brand messaging. Additionally, diversity of voices (50% women on board; 40% faculty of color; LGBTQ+ representation on board/staff) gave our work richness and authenticity.
The resulting visual language uses striking silhouettes highlighted by bands of color to establish memorable, radical imagery. The accompanying messaging employs pithy, unflinching statements to deliver New Roads’ values in a voice few schools would have the guts to use. We even crafted a bespoke typeface, Liberation.
• Admissions events at 100% capacity for enrollment season following the launch
• 3x fundraising during Matchtober, and 2x fundraising during Phone-a-thon (over previous year)
• Internal enthusiasm inspired brand ambassador summits, during which we empowered key stakeholders to evangelize for the new brand
Client: New Roads School – www.newroads.org
Head of School: Luthern Williams
Director of Communications and Marketing: Dawn Fairchild
Vice Chair of the Board: Justine Schreyer Lewin
Branding Agency: DISTINC – www.distinc.net
Chief Creative Officer: Jean-Marc Durviaux
Creative Director: Daniel Schludi
Director of Strategy: Asa Beal