SBUSD new logo.

During their July 12 meeting, all five members of Santa Barbara Unified School District’s Board of Education took turns politely criticizing the district’s new logo, its accompanying communication plan, the manner in which they coevolved, and the price tag attached to the effort. “I think the process was atrocious,” said Boardmember Ed Heron, “and it’s already cost us $50,000.” With that, boardmembers expressly slammed the financial brakes on any forthcoming logo applications — letterhead, apparel, equipment branding, etc. — as Boardmember Monique Limón added, “I might go so far as to say stop using this new logo now.”

Boardmembers also expressed frustration that they hadn’t been able to review the image — a multicolored shield with a new font for the existing motto, “Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day” — before it was rolled out on June 28. And besides, they added, paying Simon Dixon’s Idea Engineering marketing firm $5,250 to create a new logo wasn’t mentioned as the district originally conceptualized its communication plan as a tool to better connect with the community. The plan itself in document form was not attached to the meeting agenda, and Dixon was not in attendance. “There’s a lot of good in [the plan],” said board president Pedro Paz. “But we need to take it in the direction we intended.”

SBUSD old logo.

The irony of a communication plan coming to life under such disconnect wasn’t wasted on newly hired Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, who was on his second day on the job and attending his very first board meeting. “The idea of a communication plan is much more than an image, a logo,” he said. “What I’m hearing is, ‘Who are the unreached audiences [in the community], the ones we’re not reaching because we’re not on the right channel or speaking the right language?’”

Matsuoka added that there seemed to be “no alignment from the board down to a staff member.” Heading up the effort for staff is Todd Ryckman, the district’s chief educational technology officer. “We’ll make the changes,” Ryckman said.


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