Over the past few years, the Olentangy Local School District (OLSD) has been hard at work in undertaking a districtwide rebranding initiative that would include new logos for each of the schools in the district. In the final step of that initiative, new logos have been unveiled for each of the district’s four high schools.
Olentangy, Liberty, and Orange high schools each unveiled their new set of logos, which includes both a primary logo and secondary logos, in videos posted on the district’s website, as well as their various social media pages. OLSD’s newest high school, Olentangy Berlin, kept its primary logo but added additional secondary logos. Each school retained its nickname and color schemes.
OLSD’s rebranding efforts began in April 2019 when it announced a refreshing of the district’s brand, including a new logo. Since that time, brand committees were formed for each school at every level in the district with the goal of creating an identity specific to each school. Brand identities for all the district’s elementary and preschools were launched in August 2020, and the middle school brands were revealed in January.
Perhaps at the forefront of the high school rebranding initiative was Olentangy High School, whose imagery was deemed problematic on multiple fronts. In a video unveiling the new Olentangy High School logos, Chief Communications Officer Krista Davis highlighted two specific reasons the district sought to rebrand the schools.
First, Davis said, was to remove all trademark infringements that were present with the old branding. In the past, Olentangy had widely used the spear logo trademarked by Florida State University. Like Olentangy, both Orange and Liberty have also used trademarked logos in the past, whether in an official or unofficial capacity.
“Removing these violations allows us to move forward in trademarking and protecting these new logos and marks,” Davis said in the video.
By creating brands unique to the schools, the district will also be able to create a new revenue stream by selling licensed merchandise with its own trademarked logos.
The second rebranding initiative was to remove all Native American imagery as well as to “develop more unbiased imagery,” Davis said. “The brand committee focused on inclusivity and creating a mascot that is relatable and identifiable for all,” she went on to say.
Brand committees were made up of school administration, staff, athletics coaches, athletic directors, alumni and current students.
“Serving on the brand committee was an amazing experience, and discussing the proper path for Olentangy High School taught me a lot about other people’s beliefs in the future of our school,” junior Rishika Gorai said. “I know this will be a major change for our community, but it’s also a necessary one. Much of the history of our school’s previous mascot was misrepresented and, in turn, has misguided students into believing a separate history.”
The new primary Olentangy logo features an osprey, which Davis said is native to the area. Davis said it was important to the Olentangy brand committee to have a logo that was a nod to the area while also representing ferocity.
Asked whether or not the district ever considered changing the Olentangy nickname, Davis said the parameters from the onset of the project were to not change the nicknames at any of the schools, nor did the district feel a change was warranted.
“The district feels that the mascot nickname ‘Braves’ is honoring the tradition and the community that has been here and has continued to exist,” Davis told the Gazette. “I think that while we recognize some people may not agree with that, at this point in time, with the project we felt that it was not disrespectful.”
At Orange, Davis said the new logo features a “futuristic human figure” that is still meant to represent a pioneer, albeit one more in step with the current times. Davis said one of the first questions each brand committee addressed in the process is what it meant to be the nickname of each school. Words and phrases that came up in regard to the Pioneer nickname were “leading the way,” “exploring,” and “looking to the future,” she stated.
Orange Principal Trond Smith said in the video unveiling, “When we began the brand committee process, the first thing I did was go straight to our definition of a pioneer in the first-floor hallway, which describes a pioneer as, ‘One who paves the way. A forerunner. To create a path. To originate. To guide.’”
Smith said the previous pioneer mascot at Orange was no longer the best representation of the current Orange culture, although its students and staff are still the “hardworking, strong, proud pioneers the community had in mind” when the building was opened.
Olentangy Liberty’s updated logo depicts a robed figure reaching upward while holding a star, seemingly a nod to Lady Liberty. However, Davis said that nod was not necessarily the intention of the brand committee at Liberty.
“That figure is not necessarily gender or race-specific, and so that was important to (the committee) as well,” Davis said. “Even though some might feel it’s a little bit of a nod to Lady Liberty, I think that it is also is supposed to be representative of all and showing that pride, which was also very important to them.”
Amanda Beeman, the assistant director of communications at OLSD, said the figure in the logo represents a “current day patriot.”
“In creating the new Liberty Patriot, we wanted to create something that was inclusive of all genders, races and backgrounds,” Liberty senior Kalista Sampson said. “We wanted to keep the patriotic aspect of our current look, including our colors, our star, and our signature ‘L.’ But the patriot mascot will now be one that represents our current school culture.”
Videos for each of the school’s unveilings can be found on OLSD’s Facebook page or by visiting the Olentangy Schools Youtube page.