Building a Brand

brand building
There’s a lot more to designing a successful logo than simply drawing a picture and adding a school name. A strong logo, or branding, incorporates simplicity, versatility, and recognition.

A good logo can speak volumes about a product or organization. It can spark recognition and convey an image about a group, making a lasting impression. A logo can also build unity within a group. For these reasons and more, many booster associations are working with their band directors to create or update logos, leading to an organized, coherent brand image for their band or music programs.

Connecting to Community:
The James Bowie High School band’s new logo (right) as compared to the prior logo shows a stronger affiliation to the school.

Such was the case with the James Bowie High School Band Booster Association in Austin, Texas. A few years ago, the school’s former band director started working with the boosters to create a stronger presence and identity for the Bowie Bands. Ryan Thomas, the current director of bands, picked up the project and kept it going, working with the boosters and the school administration to ensure the band’s new image clearly showed the relationship to the school.

“We are part of the school, first and foremost,” says Charles Mead, booster president. “We wanted to identify and connect to the larger school community by playing off the existing school logo. The new logo, introduced in fall 2015, maintains that connection but still has enough uniqueness to identify our group as a separate entity.”

For further identification, many music programs also include their city and state in their logo design, including Foothill High School Bands and Color Guard in Henderson, Nevada, and the Easley (South Carolina) High School Marching Band.

Umbrella vs. Individual Logos

Under One Umbrella: The Union High School booster group recently created an overall logo for the school’s band program while keeping its historic Renegade Regiment marching band logo unchanged.

Sometimes a band program maintains independent brand identities for specific ensembles while also using an umbrella logo for overall programming needs. At Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Renegade Regiment marching band has had its own logo for more than 35 years as a tie-in to the football team’s self-dubbed nickname of The Renegades. However, the band program decided to implement an overall Union Bands logo that more closely parallels the school logo two years ago.

“We have an umbrella logo that covers all of our band programs, including indoor percussion, color guard, and our middle school music programs,” says Marjorie Hall, president of the Union Band Parents Club. “Our marching program, the Renegade Regiment, also falls under that umbrella.”

The specific Renegade Regiment logo appears on every form, letter, and press release relating to Union’s marching program. “It takes a little extra planning to make sure we apply the logo to signs, forms, and other printed materials, but it helps us look intentional, like we mean business,” Hall says.

The Union Band Parents Club also uses the Renegade Regiment and Union Bands logos on merchandise and appoints a booster chairperson to oversee the process to decide which logo is more appropriate for which situations. “Our merchandise coordinator considers the market for the product, who will most likely buy an item, and that helps her decide which logo to use on the product,” Hall explains. “For example, a heavy sweatshirt will most likely be worn by a marching band parent who is sitting in the stands during October and November, so the coordinator will select the Renegade Regiment logo for that item. A T-shirt or polo shirt, however, can be worn by a jazz band parent or indoor drumline parent, so she may select the Union Bands logo.”

Taking Flight: A new Bellbrook Music logo plays off the original marching band logo to bring together the high school’s entire music program.

At Bellbrook (Ohio) High School, the Music Boosters also maintain two separate logos. On shirts, hats, and car decals, it uses an overall Bellbrook music logo featuring the school mascot and colors—a purple and gold eagle surrounded by music notes.

The Bellbrook marching program also uses a logo specific to the marching program on the organization’s equipment semi-truck, box truck, and concessions trailer that feature the school mascot and the band’s name, “Marching Eagles.” The same logo and slogan appear on the banner used for parades.

Why two logos for Bellbrook? In the past, the school’s music program used just one logo—the one for the marching program. In recent years, however, the boosters have wanted to ensure that the music program feels inclusive to all parents and students.

“We are starting to use [the logo that features] the eagle with Bellbrook Music and focus on that rather than Bellbrook Bands,” says Jennifer Huff, publicity coordinator for the Bellbrook Music Boosters. “One reason is families tend to think the boosters are all about the marching band. We want to focus on all music programs when we do fundraising. All booster money is allocated to all music programs: choir, jazz band, symphony and wind ensembles.”

Consistent Use

No matter where a marching program uses a logo—on merchandise, paperwork, equipment trailers, or banners—booster organizations agree that consistency is key to maintaining a professional image. “Whenever something is produced for our organization, we strive to be consistent in the use of it,” Mead says. “For the most part, our parents are willing and eager to comply with this strategy.”

To that end, the James Bowie band boosters have considered pursuing copyright protection for the band’s logo. “It’s definitely on our radar,” Mead says.

In the meantime, the boosters and the director work with the parents and student leaders to communicate the philosophy behind proper use of the band logo, especially as the group continues to transition to the new artwork. “We are persistent in letting everyone know the thinking behind proper applications of the logo, and we let our parents know that if they have an idea for a product, they can talk to our merchandise point of contact,” Mead says. “We continue to remind all our groups about our new logo, and so far, it’s been good.”

At events, band parents are encouraged by the boosters to wear school colors or logo attire to create unity and identity.

“We ask our parents and volunteers to wear something that represents Bellbrook, such as a logo shirt, purple shirt, or the shirt with the artwork for that year’s field show,” Huff says. “It helps parents and fans from other schools easily identify our volunteers and presents a more unified image.”

About author

Stacy N. Hackett

Stacy N. Hackett is an award-winning freelance writer and technical editor based in Southern California. She writes frequently about software, marching bands, and the pet industry. Stacy is the proud mom of a sousaphone player in the Oregon State University Marching Band, and she has experience on the field as a former bells player with the Los Alamitos (California) High School marching band.

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