Kelsh Wilson teamed up with The Independence School in Newark, Delaware, to create a series of exterior displays that bring key elements of the school’s brand—very visibly—to life.
Until recently, The Independence School faced a challenge common to many institutions: When you looked at its main building from the outside, it was impossible to have any sense of the energy within.
Outside, you saw unrevealing, if impressive, facades of brick. Inside, you saw all vitality and creativity of an exceptional place of learning—one populated by 500 children, age 3 through grade 8.
The situation represented something of a marketing challenge. After all, visitors’ first impressions were inevitably of a place more institutional than personal. It also represented a lost opportunity. Guests and passersby who saw the Independence building might easily go away knowing nothing more about the school than when they came.
Kelsh Wilson’s answer to the challenge was big, bold, and multifaceted:
- welcoming banners on the lampposts along the campus entry drive with photos of Independence children and others around the central campus quad with bold message lines,
- larger banners hanging from the building itself, featuring the words “Inspire,” “Dream,” and “Achieve” from the school’s motto,
- special signs trumpeting the school’s 40th anniversary, and
- artful shapes—stars and expressive lines—festooning a long expanse of empty windows along a key connecting corridor.
Together, these displays help create a stronger sense of place, in effect branding the Independence campus. They bring life and color to exterior spaces in a whole new way. And, they build clearly on graphic elements and messaging used in the school’s print and digital communications, creating the chance for extra resonance. (The branding program including these graphic elements and messages was one of several previous projects that Kelsh Wilson developed for Independence.)
One lovely touch in the creative execution of the program involves the different effects inside and outside the building created by the stars-and-lines window decorations. Outside, they project color and suggest a sense of motion. Inside, they cast fascinating shadows along the floor of a main corridor, which move and morph as the day goes by.
A number of elements in this program make it uniquely an expression of The Independence School—from words that are drawn from the school’s motto and marketing themes to the planning of elements to take advantage of the particular geometry of the campus.
What’s not unique to Independence is the idea that a school’s most visible asset—its physical infrastructure—can be turned into a communications tool as well. In short, why not see your campus as a canvas?