Finding this high school’s brilliance

McNicholas High School

When McNicholas High School developed a new strategy for their organization, they wanted a new brand strategy, too. That’s where we came in. In order to rise above the noise of a fiercely competitive market of local high schools, we needed to define what makes McNick truly unique. It would help them connect with potential students and stay relevant not just now, but for years to come.

Brand Position: One of the first steps we took was to create a Brand Position Statement. This would guide every other part of the brand development, so we started by broadening our understanding of McNick. We conducted extensive research with students past, present and potential—plus parents, faculty and staff. We also performed a comprehensive competitive analysis. The statement we developed defines what McNick is, who it serves, and why it’s different and better than its competition. In doing so, we found the heart of the brand: they’re a School of Opportunity. That means they give students opportunities to participate and be part of the mix in ways other schools just can’t offer their students.


Logo: The logo we created isn’t just a singular image, but a system that can be used (and kept consistent) across various facets of McNick’s identity—academics, athletics, extracurriculars. Like the Brand Position statement, we sought community input for the logo, imbuing it with symbolic meaning—like the “M” interlocking with a cross to create the balance and strength of McNick’s Catholic, co-ed education.

Brand Toolbox and Guidelines: To keep the new brand strategy consistent across executions, we designed a kit of elements McNick can refer to again and again. It included brand voice, color and photography guidelines, and graphic elements like the rocket illustration. The brilliance graphic was another element with its own guidelines, inspired by the McNick logo’s three-strand cross and a callback to being a School of Opportunity. It radiates outward, spotlighting an experience that transforms the student’s (and community’s) future thanks to the opportunity to discover their God-given brilliance.

Implementation: Recruitment Campaign: For fall 2020’s recruitment campaign targeting 8th grade students, we put the new brand strategy to work. We developed the theme “Find Your Brilliance” to work in tandem with the new strategy. To bolster the campaign, McNick wanted fresh photography to match the new brand strategy—so we organized and executed a photoshoot while safely navigating the challenges of COVID-19. The result: a cohesive campaign that reflected the new brand strategy in print ads, billboards and other touchpoints.

Implementation: Annual Report: Our design for McNick’s annual report brought the entire rebrand full circle. Not only did the new brand strategy shine on every page, we made sure it would inspire both current and past community members to be part of the next chapter of the story. For McNick, the annual report was “a summary of who we are, where we want to go and who we want to become. It’s a story of our collective brilliance, both today and tomorrow.”