Rebranding Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame
Published: November 4, 2019
Written by Kyle Null
Category: Branding | Digital Marketing

What we started with.


Project Overview

Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame (HCV) has used the same logo for many years. When we first started discussing this project they weren’t sure where the logo came from, how long they’d been using it for, who made it, and why there was a tree inside a cursive V.

They only had one jpeg image file of their logo (displayed above) shared between everyone at the organization. The file being a jpeg meant they could only put it on a white backdrop and if they tried to make it big on a poster board it’d get blurry. 

Since January 2019, we started working behind the scenes on this rebranding project. Early into 2018, we created a Digital Integration Team (DIT) with HCV that meets bi-weekly in strategy meetings that I lead. The DIT consists of key decision makers from HCV’s leadership staff (CEO, COO, and Directors from each department) that helps the marketing team and I complete complex digital marketing projects that aim to help HCV reach their full potential and generate advocacy throughout their community.

This month, November 2019, we’ve gradually started rolling out the new branding assets, business cards, email signatures, and packaged all new variations of the logo into a folder on their public shared drive for staff to begin incorporating into their own projects. Soon, we’re having a big announcement presentation with the senior leadership & management on how to begin utilizing everything going forward.

The announcement will come with a complete master branding guidelines packaged into a PDF with situational logo usage, colors codes, fonts that we’re rolling out to everyone’s computers, instructions on how to utilize the new shared drive folder, and policy changes that ask departments to reach out to the marketing department when they’re wanting to make updates to their documents and things they want to publish. 

Below I’ll walk you through the branding process we went through from beginning to end. 

Round 1 – Branding Concepts

The initial themes of the first round of concepts was: 

  • Every logo concept needed to have a luxury feel.
  • V as the only symbol.
  • Tree as the symbol.
  • Cross incorporated into the symbol.
What we learned is that crosses are hard to pull off in a brand if you aren’t a church. It immediately makes you think that it’s a church. While HCV is empowered by the Holy Spirit and sponsored by the Brothers, it was still important that they not exclude other faiths through their branding.  

Round 2 – Branding Concepts

It was determined that the tree was something they didn’t want to lose. I wanted them to move past the tree and focus more on the V or Village of their name since it’s the only original element in it, but they felt that they’d be altering the logo too much if they removed the tree, which would be more trouble than it’s worth. 

Within these concepts we wanted to play around with the presentation of the tree and see some different color variations, font faces, and presentation formats.  

Round 3 – Branding Concepts

After a lot brainstorming and discussion in DIT meetings we decided we wanted to see what a somewhat ambiguous couple sitting on a bench under the tree would look like. This became a huge fan favorite. Placing Holy Cross under it as the “roots” of the tree also made the vertical version of the logo the new primary.

At first glance, everything was too dark. We wanted the gold to be more vibrant and full of life. 

We also wanted to have the flexibility to present the logo in multiple variations. So not only do we have a social symbol, but we also wanted to insert the logo inside the shield that came from round 2. The execution of this particular shield was a little off and in round 4 you’ll see the adjustment.  

Round 4 – Branding Assets (Polished)

We wanted to polish the previous round to present the batch to an HCV focus group consisting of the board, some residents with design related backgrounds, and a couple of the Brothers.  

Notes from the Focus Group

Neutraface is the font face chosen for “Holy Cross” and “Village” in the logo and it turned out to be highly controversial. We had a 50/50 split of people either loving it or hating it, there were no in-betweens. Those that hated it didn’t like that we had migrated away from the cursive elegance of the original V and wanted to see that theme incorporated throughout the entire word, “Village”.  

They also felt the tree should look more like the tree from the old logo to make the transition from the old to new logo more seamless and less controversial. 

As disheartening as it can feel to go backwards in the design process, it’s also necessary to do to make sure that you get a product that everyone is in love with and can be proud of. 


Final Branding Assets & Guidelines

We went back to the drawing board with all of the feedback we gathered from the focus group and the discussions the comments inspired. We went through a few iterations and some polishing that isn’t worth sharing, and we concluded with this result.  

Now, we’re gradually rolling this out on a project-to-project basis and are working with HCV’s awesome little marketing team on manipulating the new branding assets into everything possible. They’ve put us on retainer to ongoingly develop content for them, custom documents like business cards, advertisements, and as old collateral runs out we collaborate on designing while training their team how..  

It’s cheap to print, but not cheap to design. So we’ve helped HCV bring that new capability in-house that will save them thousands of dollars in the long run. We provide them with manipulatable Adobe templates and train them how to work with them. You don’t have to be a grandmaster with Adobe Illustrator, inDesign, or Photoshop to be able to update user-friendly templates.