Red Sauce

August 28, 2013

The branding issue: changing the convo and getting beyond logos

A new lesson plan for a brand with a bad rap

Good things were happening in Tacoma Public Schools. But a bad reputation stuck to the district like petrified chewing gum under a school desk.

One didn’t have to look far to see progress. Innovative programs and dedicated staff were helping students succeed in classrooms across the city. New leadership was infusing the charge to close the achievement gap.

Public perception, however, continued to lag. It was time to tell a new story for Tacoma Public Schools.

JayRay led the district through a strategic communications planning process. Inspiring stories emerged. Stories of triumph, achievement, grit and determination. Tacoma Public Schools was unique. A leader.

The district needed a promise people could wrap their arms around. To nurture and challenge every student. This promise underscores the district’s mission and values, and celebrates the everyday work of teachers, students, staff and administrators.

Today, the district has an updated logo, graphics and messaging that reflect its unique culture. A district calendar helped kick off the school year with personality. Pages of the calendar introduced the new brand to more than 18,000 homes. People not only see the good things happening in Tacoma Schools—they believe it.

Learn why the district calls itself innovative, relentless and nurturing >>

Getting beyond logos
By Shari Campbell

I’ll start with a confession: I love a good logo. But some of my favorite brands—Trader Joe’s, Pink Jeep Tours, Athleta—don’t necessarily have my favorite logos.

The reason I love these brands isn’t connected with design. It’s rooted in the overall brand experience.

I often hear branding used to describe logo design and graphic standards. I believe, and my colleagues at JayRay agree, branding is much more powerful. 

So, what’s a brand?

A brand is what we do and say. It’s what we stand for in the minds of stakeholders. A brand is how we are distinct. A brand is our face, our tone and our human traits. A brand is what we make true every day. 

It sounds like a living thing because it is. While a logo is an important piece of a brand, it isn’t the heart and soul.


Good brands are like great pizza. Your favorite cheeses, toppings and sauces atop an unforgettable crust. See how branding is like your favorite pizza pie >>