Jay Harper, a graphics designer for the Mississippi School Boards Association hired by Columbus Municipal School District to create designs for the district's rebrand, shares his thoughts on the new Falcon logos at Joe Cook Elementary School on Monday. Harper designed a logo for the school district as well as logos for all of the district's schools. The district unveiled the rebrand Monday at Cook Elementary School. Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
The new Falcon logo is registered with the state and replaces the old Falcons logo copied from the Atlanta Falcons. Designer Jay Harper said the new Falcon provides exclusive marketing rights for the district, something the old logo did not enjoy.
Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
November 10, 2020 9:38:49 AM
For 15 years, the image of a purple falcon in flight has been a ubiquitous presence throughout the Columbus Municipal School District, adorning everything from letterheads to signage to sports uniforms.
On Monday in the Joe Cook Elementary School auditorium, the district unveiled its new logo -- a profile of a Falcon head with a block letter "C" overlay -- one that will replace the old Falcon-in-flight logo.
But how quickly the district will transition from old to new relies, quite literally, on buy-in from the public, acknowledged school board President Jason Spears and school district Superintendent Cherie Labat.
"There's no money set aside for changing everything out that I'm aware of," Spears said. "As we go into the next budget year, there may be some money available through the marketing budget, but right now, there aren't a lot of funds, although we did amend the budget to provide $3,000 for branding."
Labat said the plan is to fund the transition to the new branding primarily through funds generated through the sale of merchandise featuring the new logo.
"That's how we're going to start," she said. "If everybody accepts the new brand and purchases merchandise with the logo, we'll be able to use it as a fundraiser."
Jay Harper, a graphic designer with the Mississippi School Boards Association the district hired to create a new design, said creating an original logo that could be registered with the state gives the district exclusive marketing rights on all merchandise bearing the new logo, something the old logo didn't provide.
Harper said the old logo was a knock-off of the Atlanta Falcons' logo, which meant the district could not earn revenue from merchandise bearing the image.
"The Atlanta Falcons logo is still the Atlanta Falcons logo no matter what color you change it to," Harper said.
Spears said the district will approach retail stores that carry the school's merchandise to notify them of the change in logos.
"The plan is to go to Walgreens or Walmart, places where we know our school merchandise is sold, and ask them to take the old merchandise off the shelves and, hopefully, strike some kind of an agreement with them for merchandise with the new logo," he said. "That would produce revenue and allow us to make some kind of headway in the transition."
In addition to the new Falcons logo, Harper designed logos for the district and each of the city's schools. Some transitions can be made with little cost and implemented quickly, such as letterheads and small signage.
Other transitions, including sports uniforms, replacing the logo at center court at school gyms, and larger signage will require time and money.
"I don't expect to have new uniforms until maybe next year," said boys basketball coach Phillip Morris. "Even if we wanted to do it now, it usually takes about eight weeks to get uniforms after you order them, so I don't think that's going to happen."
Labat said that because the transition will occur over time, the old logo won't disappear from public view any time soon.
"We're doing this a little bit at a time," Labat said. "Until then, we sort of see the old Falcon as a vintage logo."
The district's rebranding campaign is part of a celebration of two important milestones in the district's history. On Oct. 7, the school celebrated the 155th anniversary of Union Academy, the city's first public school for Black children. In February, the district will celebrate the bicentennial of Franklin Academy, the first public school established in the state of Mississippi.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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