Communications staff at Oak Park and River Forest High School are embarking on a process to overhaul the high school’s brand, to make it more contemporary, streamlined and identifiable — something that hasn’t been done since a teacher designed the school crest in 1908. 

District 200 officials recently hired Sikich Marketing and Design, based in Naperville, to conduct focus groups and administer an online survey. 

The process, officials said, will result in a school logo, an athletics logo, co-branding options for academic divisions, counselors, clubs and other sub-groups; and a brand standards guide to make sure the branding material is being used consistently; among other deliverables. 

The district will hire Sikich at a cost of $24,676, which is 40 percent less than the original price. The rebranding project could take around five months to complete, with officials anticipating a rollout of the new brand in early 2020. 

According to an informal survey administered by district officials, 91 percent of students and staff surveyed could not identify all of the elements on OPRF’s iconic crest. Designed by Lee Watson, an OPRF manual arts teacher, it contains an acorn and leaves, which symbolize “Oak”; trees that represent “Park”; wavy blue lines that stand for “River”; more trees to represent “Forest” and the Greek term, “Ta’Garista,” which means “The best.” 

“Fast forward 110 years, and this crest is still the main graphic symbol for the school,” explained Karin Sullivan, the district’s executive director of communications and community relations, and Jackie McGoey, the district’s communications specialist, in a presentation they gave to the school board at the Committee of the Whole meeting on May 14. 

The crest, they said, “is far from the only” graphic symbol OPRF utilizes, however. Sullivan and McGoey said they identified “at least a dozen other visuals randomly used by stakeholders on school communications” — from “two different Huskie dogs” to a “black-and-white drawing of the school façade.” 

With no brand guidelines in place, they said, “the school is missing a huge opportunity to quickly and consistently communicate the OPRF identity and promise to stakeholders,” they explained. 

“Furthermore, OPRF has evolved tremendously in the 110 years since the crest was developed. It’s time to have strong, consistent branding that reflects who OPRF is today and where we’re going in the future.” 


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