Monday, November 9, 2015

It All Comes Down to Heart

The School Shaped team is a talented group with diverse skills and backgrounds, but not one of us qualifies as a logo designer. So when we set out to create a logo for School Shaped, we weren’t sure which direction would be best. We wanted it to be simple, memorable, and also act as a representation of our entire mission. You know, simple stuff.

We worked through several iterations as a team, and found that thinking about the logo pushed us to think more closely about our goals and our reasons for founding School Shaped.

We started out by building upon objects that are considered “traditional” school items, adding a twist to show that we are hoping to bring about change. For example, we experimented with the idea of an upside down book with a schoolhouse depicted on it, to represent how we were going to “turn schools on their heads” with our innovative ideas. The fire was supposed to symbolize inspiration, a “kindling of ideas” if you will, but it ended up looking like a book burning instead. So it was a no go on the first design.

Simultaneously, we explored color palettes with bright, primary colors that are reminiscent of elementary school classrooms. Tools like and were invaluable in this process.

Our next direction led us away from a simple logo towards a descriptive banner. We had a series of 3D shapes with symbols inside them, representing the mantra, “Inspire, Create, Grow.”
As a team, we liked the visuals and the idea of having different symbols for different aspects of our mission, but we started to wonder if these were the correct three words to summarize what we were trying to do. We were trying to focus more on collaboration, building communities and partnerships between developers and schools, and really creating an understanding around the key needs teachers have. The word “inspire” seemed lacking in conveying all of that. We also decided that it was too complex of a design to serve as a logo, so it was one more iteration on the shelf.

We started brainstorming more, simplifying the design and trying different things to see what would stick. We had plant imagery, we had rainbows, we had colorful shapes. We had a bunch of logos that seemed promising until we realized how similar they were to existing logos that we subconsciously copied - such as the Safeway logo or the Stack Overflow logo.

We worked on this for almost a full month before we put our collective feet down - we were going to decide on a logo by the end of the week. Doyung threw out a bunch of ideas surrounding a heart, and we all immediately warmed to the simple yet compelling sketches.
Graham put it really well when he said, “I think it demonstrates that we really value schools as they are, and our users and stakeholders will identify with it as well."

We care about schools, and we care about helping teachers enhance their students’ learning. We aren’t just a group of techies thinking we can do it better. We honor the amount of time and energy teachers put into their work, and we simply want to combine forces and do what we can to help create new tools and experiences for the classrooms that need it most.

All the color combinations!

We call ourselves School Shaped, because we hope to be exactly that. We want to create products that come from the hearts of schools, and we want to work together with the school communities to shape them. And that's how we got our logo.

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