Bringing a vision to life
As a leading independent school and charitable organisation recognised regionally and nationally, the Royal Grammar School is renowned for it’s heritage, results and successful alumni. We were appointed by the RGS to help re-define their values, establish a narrative to communicate the future vision of this iconic school and create a visual language and tone of voice to bring everything to life.
To create a vision that people really believe in and would be embraced within the school and beyond, we needed to understand how the school is seen and perceived, not just internally but externally by peers, regional businesses, the education sector and the wider community, as well as the important close community of parents, staff and students.
We facilitated a diverse programme of consultation, workshops with staff groups and students from across the junior and senior schools, one to one calls and meetings with alumni and parents, as well as sessions with community groups and North East business leaders. Everyone contributed to giving us a much deeper understanding of how the school is perceived, what makes the school special and what the important attributes were.
An intensive and fascinating process, the consultation reinforced many of the key attributes that the RGS is known for such as their spirit, academic results, well rounded and happy students. As well as the themes we had hoped to see, the audiences also connected the RGS with a huge sense of warmth and freedom. Parents picked up on a sense of belonging and belief that they had seen develop in their child, a true warmth that resonates throughout the school. This combination of ambition and academic success coupled with emotive qualities such as warmth, humility and freedom, were powerful starting points in crafting the vision and values for the school.
The consultation findings were analysed and documented with a detailed overview on each audience group and key themes, a vital insight into the RGS that informed our recommendations for the vision, values, purpose and wider narrative.
Working closely with the steering group and communications team, we crafted and fine tuned the narrative, centering around ‘Freedom to create their future’. We stress tested and flexed the concept to explore messaging and written tone of voice. A new vision and values influences everything so it was essential it could be woven throughout the fabric of the school and brought to life visually and tonally.
With the core proposition of ‘Freedom to create their future’, we wanted to reflect this spirit across everything.
The RGS logo crest has a deeply rooted heritage, this was retained and the shape of the crest used as a frame and mechanism to interact with imagery and messaging. The crest becomes a flexible canvas, with the freedom to overlay, frame, contain and highlight, a device that is rooted in each piece of communication showing the impact RGS has on the future of their school community and beyond.
Imagery is themed to reflect the vision and values. ‘Life at RGS’ reflects real life moments, natural and unstaged they capture experiences from across the school, giving a glimpse into school life. ‘Revealing RGS’ gives a sense of place, snapshots of close-up detail to give a multi-layered feel to imagery and ‘Real RGS’ captures the energy and spirit of real events and extra-curricular activities, giving a true and honest picture of life beyond the school walls, these images are taken by staff or students out and about. A photoshoot was commissioned to start to build an image library around these themes and capture the honest and real experiences of life at the RGS.
A detailed Brand Expression Guide was produced to introduce the new material and encourage the school community to enjoy using the visual language. Including an introduction to the vision and values, visual inspiration and application of the crest, typography, colour and tone of voice all featured in the expression guide.
The new narrative, vision, values and visual language is a real example of listening and caring about what people think and importantly interpreting it in a way that can be woven through the school every day. It will take time to implement, but with a willing and passionate community we have no doubt the new vision and visual language will be cherished, actioned and evolved well into the future.