Berkshire Country Day School
CREATIVE DIRECTION | brand strategy | DESIGN
BCD is a bucolic independent school in Western Massachusetts, serving kids from preschool through ninth grade. In 2009, the school developed an ambitious, forward-thinking strategic plan. As Creative Director and part of the Long Range Strategic Planning Team, I worked with the Board of Trustees, faculty, alumni, and families to develop a plan for BCD that would carry it into the future.
“Berkshire Country Day School exists to inspire the promise of every student, that each may become an exemplary citizen of the world.”
— bcd's mission statement
This is perhaps the project of which I'm most proud, as it's a testament to how people can come together around an idea and how a common guiding principle can drive everything from high-level financial decisions to typography. BCD's strategic planning process was a flawlessly executed, and inclusive of everyone in the school's community and extended community: faculty, staff, students, alumni, board members, and current and former families. Members of each group answered questions about the school: how they felt about it, how it was different from other schools they'd attended or worked for; and gathered in the school's gym to share the results. From there, responses were copied onto whiteboards and similar phrases were highlighted to show common themes. The highlighted phrases and words then went to a steering committee, of which I was a member, and we pruned and shaped those words into a vision statement:
“Distinct in program, adventurous in spirit,
engaged in a changing world”
— BCD'S vision STATEMENT
This statement became the engine that powered the school at every level. In the execution of the visual identity, it was my guide. Large vertical type and a simple header provides a frame for content provided by teachers, volunteers, and students, and is a subtle nod to the school's commitment to its natural sense of adventure. Color, original artwork, and classroom photography fills the frame to allow BCD's authentic spirit to be the focus and makes it visually distinct from its competitors.
What was perhaps most noteworthy was the development of a blog network, called mybcd, that gave each classroom autonomy over its own content. Teachers and students could use their blogs to share articles, post homework assignments, and chat about assignments, and each classroom's homework schedule fed into a master student calendar by grade. This way, students in each grade could sync their calendars to update with their homework assignments, and parents could be involved in their children's activities. Making this shift to technology from what was very much a pencil and paper learning environment was a response to the mandate made in the vision statement, that BCD was a school that embraced change.
With a small staff and a limited budget, an independent school isn't equipped to invest in large amounts of design and printing. To work around this, I created working templates and distributed them to faculty, staff, and parent-led committees so that they could create their own posters and promotional materials. The result is a dynamic, vibrant identity unified by a simple typographic treatment that lets BCD's authentic voice shine.