Identity Re-design: Valley Catholic High School

The Portland firm Whitman Advertising & Public Relations contracted me to execute a local identity re-design back in the late 1980's. The client was St. Mary of the Valley High School, an education institution established in 1902, located in Beaverton, Oregon. The institution's name was a bit for people to stumble through - and the logo being used (above) seemed to present similar difficulties.

Within the original identity there had been an attempt to maintain a much-used monogram made up of the letterforms "St," "M" and "V," resulting in a somewhat awkward configuration of the school name when spelled out in its entirety. The lowercase "t" cut into the dome element sitting on top of the "S" and "M." The odd, horizontal configuration of the logo created layout and design difficulties each time it was used. With the original logo art long since misplaced, both the dome illustration and the dated University Roman type treatment were starting to lose fine line integrity from being repeatedly reproduced.

I was asked to create the identity for the updated school name of Valley Catholic High School. There had been a previous attempt (above left) to produce a logo with the new name, but it simply wasn't working well for the client - for many of the same reasons mentioned in regards to the original identity.

I just recently came across the original sketches and drawings (above) of my initial rough concepts for the logo. With the dome of the main building being a familiar community landmark there was no question it would the primary element in the design. In the pre-computer time, the ideas were sketched out in fine point felt tip pen, made use of rub-down type, incorporated some individual letters cut from photocopies, and had a good amount of Liquid Paper correction fluid on the pages.

Following acceptance of the "dome within a dome" rough design, I produced a stronger, bolder graphic - using a rapidiograph pen, circle templates and a ruler - eliminating many of the earlier reproduction issues. The font ITC Caslon 224 Medium was what I specified as the predominant type within the design; with Franklin Gothic Condensed used for secondary text elements. Of course, this was back in the day when typesetting was ordered through a type house.

The Valley Catholic High School identity I created was used for several years. I'm not sure when the current image, with a much more literal treatment of the dome graphic, was adopted - but the school name was changed again in 1991, to Valley Catholic School, when the high school and middle school programs were merged.

(Note: My new book, Identity Crisis!: 50 Redesigns That Transformed Stale Identities Into Successful Brands, contains case studies from 35 designers and firms located around the world. Learn more about the book on the Identity Crisis! blog.)

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives