Rebranding K-12 for the future.

For Wenatchee School District

Updating an educational institution’s identity to better reflect the diverse makeup in the community.


  • Branding
  • Multimedia, video & radio production
  • Social media strategy & community management

At DH, we pride ourselves on the deep relationships we form with clients and the dynamic results we achieve by getting to know and work with them. Wenatchee School District (WSD) was one such client who we grew close with initially partnering on a school levy to fund vital district services. During that effort, we learned from and about the staff, teachers, students and families who make up the WSD community. So, we felt honored and ready when WSD approached us to help them write a messaging platform for their new strategic plan and design a complementary brand for the district.

The Opportunity

When we spoke to the community members who were part of WSD’s strategic planning committee, we learned that they felt the current logo — an apple atop a fountain pen — was outdated and didn’t reflect or appeal to everyone the district serves. Specifically, many students expressed confusion about the fountain pen, having never seen one before. And the apple, a common symbol for education, held an additional meaning in Wenatchee — “the apple capital of the world” — but was seen in different ways by people in the community, particularly for the families of farmworkers, who have a long and complex relationship with Wenatchee’s agricultural industry and its chief export.

Similarly, WSD’s previous strategic plan placed an outdated and outsized emphasis on technological literacy. While technological literacy remains an essential element of education, it felt out of sync with WSD’s current educational priorities. The new strategic plan, developed by the planning committee, better reflected students’ needs to be future ready and the opportunities the district would create to prepare them. Leaders at WSD wanted messaging to explain and promote the new strategic plan and a new look that embraced the district’s changing demographics.
DH had the opportunity to develop both the strategic plan messaging and the district’s brand, giving language and visual identity to WSD’s vision for the future. In the process, we heard from many community stakeholders with vested interests in the outcome of the project. They had strong ideas about what the logo should stand for and how best to talk about the strategic plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the pushback to school masking requirements coupled with forthcoming school board elections were important backdrops to the work. Although they did not directly affect our efforts, they contributed to a charged climate, which made a compelling messaging platform and unifying logo and brand even more crucial.

The Approach

We began by listening, learning and working to understand all the qualitative and quantitative data WSD had gathered in the process of creating their updated strategic plan. Although we had learned a lot about WSD through the levy project, we wanted to dig deeper into research and learn more about the community.

With WSD’s help, we also led committee meetings so Wenatchee community members could inform the nature of the logo and brand. These folks were district staff, administrators, teachers, students, parents, local business owners and community leaders dedicated to seeing WSD and the City of Wenatchee represented well. Through several exercises, we gathered and collated their feedback, getting buy-in and building trust along the way.
After hearing from the larger group, we met with the core strategic planning team to share best practices for incorporating community feedback without bogging down the decision-making process.
Most importantly, as we created the messaging platform, logo and brand, we returned to the goals of the strategic planning committee and the community feedback we received, making sure our work always reflected their stated values and desired outcomes.

What we did

The team

As we formed the DH team to work on this project, we carefully considered whose knowledge and background best aligned with the client’s needs. Alex. Evans, senior account director, and Linda Jones, creative director, headed up the team. Both knew the client well, having worked with WSD on their levy communication. Linda and Corie Bales, senior copywriter and content developer, also had experience working in the education field as an administrator and teacher, respectively. Finally, Ruben Escobedo, senior account executive, joined the team as a WSD alumni, offering his insight as a former student and Wenatchee resident.

Key Themes

Throughout the project, our team used language from the strategic plan and context sessions to inspire our efforts. Many of the key themes came directly from WSD’s promise to students:

We promise to build a foundation of diversity, equity, and inclusion from which each student emerges future ready.

Two key themes that came out of the committee meetings were transformation and connection. Committee members spoke passionately about WSD evolving to meet students where they are and helping them achieve success as they define it. They believe WSD is a place for all students and wanted a logo and brand that helped students feel connected to WSD and illustrated the district’s deep connections to the broader community.
Finally, nearly all committee members shared the desire for the logo and brand to reflect Wenatchee’s natural splendor. They spoke about the mountains, rivers, sunsets and orchards as being inextricably linked to the experience of living and learning in Wenatchee.

The Work

The first piece we created was a messaging platform for the strategic plan. This strategic plan was board-approved but not yet ready to be fully launched and implemented. In the interim, DH created messaging to highlight the plan’s strengths and the ways it reflected teacher, student and parent feedback. We wanted to illustrate how the plan was an extension of policies already in place focused on improving students’ learning outcomes. We also wanted to demystify what the plan’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion meant by sharing examples of what it would look like in practice and how it would impact students.

The new brand and logo were next. Three designers created five logo options, refining their designs in internal workshops. They pulled inspiration from and designed options symbolic of the key themes, mentioned above. For the presentation to the committee, logo options were matched to key themes, so committee members could see their words tied to each design.

After the committee chose a final logo and DH refined the color palette based on their feedback, DH developed a strategic plan booklet bridging the old logo to the new brand elements. This booklet, designed by Art Director Matthew Duncan, was the community’s introduction to the strategic plan and their first look at the new brand elements. In-person team sessions helped us map the booklet’s layout — including content, photos and design elements — and build a mockup to share with WSD for approval. Taking time to create this mockup helped us move quickly and confidently through the work, so we could get the final booklet printed and into people’s hands.

Finally, we also developed a one-pager, templates and a brand launch plan, all with the goal to equip our clients to share the new strategic plan messaging and WSD brand with the people who will be affected by them — namely, students, teachers and parents.

The Results

When DH presented the logo and brand options to the strategic planning committee, articulating how their words and ideas inspired the final design options, the feedback from committee members was overwhelmingly positive. They shared how they felt heard throughout the process and how the designs brought to life elements of WSD they valued most. Students on the committee expressed enthusiasm for the possibility of wearing shirts and hoodies with the new logo. Out of the five design options, the committee unanimously chose the final design.

WSD plans a full roll-out of the strategic plan, logo and brand as the ‘22-’23 school year begins but has already begun incorporating messaging and brand elements into recent communications. Our clients had this to say about working with DH on the project, “Your team nailed it. I am in awe of your ability to take the thoughts and feelings from a group of people and turn them into a visual creation that truly conveys every word you heard. We are so excited to launch our new brand that we think will connect with everyone in our community.” – Dr. Paul Gordon, WSD Superintendent (2019-2022)
On the DH side of the project, we were reminded of the value of inviting team members to learn about elements of the project to which they might not regularly contribute.

Corie reflects,

As a writer, I didn’t have a hand in creating the logo options, but the designers invited me to be part of their workshop sessions. I learned a lot by listening to them critique the designs and iterate based on the feedback. Having that window into the thought process behind each component of the designs helped me articulate to the committee what made each design special and tie it back to the messaging for the strategic plan. By working together, we brought the separate pieces of the project into a unified whole.