Our View: Branding exercise stirs up passions

One school of thought suggests tradition is not to be trifled with, while another holds that periodic updating is required.

A recent exercise by the Marketing 12 class at Stanley Humphries to come up with a new logo, slogan, and mascot for the high school has stirred stronger passions than just about any other issue in Castlegar in recent months — at least judging by the number of letters and Facebook comments we’ve received in the past couple of weeks. (We reproduce two such letters on page 9 today, as well as a sampling of those comments.)

On one hand, it’s reassuring to be reminded of the fierce loyalty and strong nostalgia the school’s alumni feel for their alma mater. On the other, aren’t such things best decided by those currently attending the school?

One school of thought suggests tradition is not to be trifled with, while another holds that periodic updating is required to keep in step with the times.

At the moment, those arguing the former appear to outnumber the latter, although many also see a silver lining in the debate: the backlash provides an unexpected lesson about the difficulty people have with change, especially when it involves things they hold near and dear.

While we appreciate the school’s longtime Latin slogan, Carpe Diem (Seize the Day), it’s hardly unique. The new slogan, “Achieve. Lead. Succeed,” isn’t 100 per cent original either (a business school in Georgia also uses it) but it is at least less common.

As for the sports team nickname, the school has had a few. The new Coyotes name will be applied to both boys and girls teams, whereas before we had the Rockers and anachronistic-sounding Rockettes.

In adopting these changes, the marketing class is hardly ignoring history, since it is simultaneously creating a display showcasing and honouring the school’s traditions.

The timing of this debate is interesting, falling both around graduation ceremonies, and as the City of Castlegar reviews its own branding scheme, including the flower logo and “Happily ever after” slogan. (We’ve always thought both to be harmless and pleasant but also generic and a bit boring.)

In any case, a brand is only a reflection of what it represents, not the actual product. Stanley Humphries students and staff, present and past, can take pride in their school, regardless of logo, slogan, or mascot.