Frequently Asked Questions
What are branding guidelines?
Branding guidelines are a graphic system of colors and typefaces anchored by a strong institutional logo. Ashland Public Schools’ branding guidelines have been designed to create a consistent, recognizable district-wide visual presence while embracing the individual character and goals of each school and department.
Do other schools and districts have branding guidelines?
Yes, K-12 districts and higher education institutions in New England and around the world have brand guidelines. These guidelines are important because they establish a strong brand voice that resonates with all our audiences, which is essential for building brand awareness. The Ashland Public Schools logo and style guidelines help present our messages in a clear, strong and consistent manner.
Why does Ashland Public Schools have a single brand?
Ashland Public Schools uses a primary brand that spans each building, division and department to ensure that our messages are clear and consistent. It makes it easier for students and families to identify us, helps unify staff and faculty and helps us in our strategic collaborations with other educational entities and academic centers.
Can I create my own logo?
No. The district logo is an essential part of our branding and identification. No visual element should be allowed to undermine or weaken the district logo. Buildings and departments are encouraged to discontinue the use of independent logos (not including a seal) which may give the impression that they stand apart from the APS district and thus do not reinforce the district image.
To avoid confusing external audiences and diluting the purpose of branding, departments, divisions and buildings should not create their own logo or other identifying marks. Using the recognized Ashland Public Schools name and logo helps to unify all our students, staff and faculty under one brand and ensures a common, mutually reinforcing image of our organization. However, there is a process for creating a graphic look to support a unique identity.
Can I create a new logo for my program, event or campaign in combination with the APS logo?
Division and department identification on collateral distributed to the public should show that the department is part of Ashland Public Schools and, if using the district’s logo, must contain the logo in a way that is consistent with current brand standards.
It is important to understand the difference and use of a “logo” versus “art.” A logo is a symbol or word mark adopted by an organization to identify its work, publications, etc. As such, a logo must be consistent and clearly represent the overall organization.
“Art,” however, is more flexible, and may change with each campaign or initiative based on the message that is being communicated at that time and the target of that message. Departments may continue using “art” in communications to create a distinctive message.
APS departments and schools have the flexibility and autonomy to create their own materials using the brand guidelines and the templates provided online for download. Create a special look for your program using color, typography, illustration or photography. If you choose to work with freelancers, make sure you share our Brand Guidelines with them and emphasize to them that they need to incorporate brand elements and concepts into their designs.
Should I include the APS logo and graphics standards in my brochure, newsletter, website, etc.?
We encourage you to use the logo and the graphics standards we have developed to reinforce the Ashland Public Schools brand and message. The logo and graphics standards create a distinctive and consistent appearance for all our communications and help our employees, students and families immediately differentiate our materials from other organizations. Using our logo and other key design components, such as color, imagery, photography, illustration, structure, messaging and typography, together helps create the APS look and feel.
What do all these color terms mean: RGB, CMYK, etc.?
It's necessary to understand color distinction when working in print media versus electronic media:
- CMYK refers to the 4-color process (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) used on a commercial printing press.
- RGB refers to the color on a computer screen or monitor (red, green, blue). Values ranging between 0 – 255 are combined to create colors that appear in the digital space.
- Hexadecimal is another color term used in website design.
The color palette seems limited. Can we deviate from these?
Our color palette was selected to work with “Clocker Blue.” Whenever possible, consult an approved graphic designer, who is trained to work within a color palette.
Does everything have to be blue, white and red?
No, but it is a good idea to use at least one of these colors prominently in your design, so it is clearly in the “APS family.” Then use photography, accent colors and other graphic elements to create your own look.
Can my department design a custom PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation deck?
Yes, as long as the design aligns with visual brand standards and meets accessibility requirements.
Do we have website guidelines?
Yes. The Information Technology and Media and Communications departments maintain the architecture, design and coordination of content within ashland.k12.ma.us. If you are considering building a new webpage or redesigning your current site, submit a ticket through SchoolDude.
Do I need to add links to translation services in my email signature?
It is not required to add information about translation services or links to translation websites in your email signature, as most email providers have a built-in translation option or add-on extensions for this service. Remember, less is more. If you choose to include this in your signature, we recommend using the following language:
To translate this message, copy and paste it to deepl.com or translate.google.com.
Can I add extra links on my email signature to my personal blog or my social accounts?
In the main signature, we ask that you only link to Ashland Public Schools' websites. Also, we discourage adding links in your professional email signature pointing to a personal site or social account. Linking to official APS social accounts is fine, but below the main email signature, as shown below:
Follow Us: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Existing Collateral and Promotional Items
Should my department discard of the existing stock of promotional items and collateral?
For existing promotional items, banners, brochures, etc., that carry old branding, there is no need to discard these. Update them when you reorder. The expectation is that all new creative assets follow the refreshed brand standards.
How long will we have to change our materials, websites, business cards, signage, etc.?
As current supplies of print materials are exhausted, plan to apply the new brand elements in the next monthly, quarterly or yearly cycles for replenishment. Digital channels, including social media, e-newsletters and webpages, can be updated immediately.
What is the specific plan (i.e., timeline) for getting APS to full or almost full implementation?
There is no specific date by which we expect everything to be updated. We encourage applying the refreshed brand to your digital channels immediately. These tools are cost-effective and easy to use. Knowing budget and staff limitations, we expect it may take at least a couple of years to update all communications as they come due for revision or replacement.
Where do I go if I have a question (not answered here) about the visual identity refresh?
Send your questions or comments to email@example.com. We will compile answers to the most common questions and post them here for the district community.