Brands with a long heritage – like many independent schools – can be made up of an intricate hierarchy of symbols which can be confusing.
If your school has multiple symbols we’ve created a simple guide to get everyone on the same page.
Coat of arms / heraldic achievement
Older schools typically have a coat of arms, an ornate symbol rich in history, officially awarded by the College of Arms. Although it’s become common to refer to this badge as a coat of arms, the correct term is a “heraldic achievement” which consists of a shield – central to the design – with a crest and motto. A coat of arms is actually the garment to which a heraldic achievement is embroidered.
Central to the heraldic achievement is the shield. It has become common practice to remove the shield from the heraldic achievement and use it as the school logo or uniform badge. Due to its historical background the shield shape is often used today as a design tool to symbolise heritage, authority and traditional values.
Sitting above the shield and on top of the helmet is the crest, its base encircled by circlet of twisted cloth known as a torse. After the 16th century it was common for the crest to be removed from the entire heraldic display and therefore led to the term “crest” being misused to describe the shield or the display as a whole. Although the term is used a lot, it is rare to see the real crest being used alone in a school brand, unless part of the badge as a whole.
The motto is usually held within a banner below the shield in the heraldic achievement and was typically a founding motivation or phrase of intent for the school. Many schools still use their motto on uniforms, literature and more.
So what is a logo and how does it differ from the symbols above?
The word ‘logo’ is just terminology for the main symbol that represents your brand. For independent schools, this could be the heraldic achievement as a whole, the shield, crest or another.
It is possible for some school brands to use all of the above symbols, plus an entirely new emblem in their marketing. But you should use only one as the logo so you’re instantly recognisable, wherever your brand is seen.