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A design for school life at St Mary's Shaftesbury

Sponsored: Richard Smith, Creative Director of Picador Design, explains how they gave the school a new lease of life

Posted by Julian Owen | December 16, 2017 | School life

St Mary’s Shaftesbury is an independent day and boarding school for girls aged 9–18 set on a beautiful 55-acre estate in the heart of the countryside on the Dorset/Wiltshire border. Picador was commissioned to design and implement a new brand refresh following a four-way agency pitch by Mary Arnal, former Headmistress, after completing a successful re-brand for her former school, Sherborne International.

As branding specialists in this field, Picador was able to demonstrate the importance of strong branding carried out for other schools and universities. The one proviso made by the school was that Picador had to work within a very limited budget and launch the new identity to a very exacting schedule.

The brief involved creating a crest which reflected their heritage in a modern way rather than use a traditional heraldic coat of arms. The basis of the design concept focused on the school’s surrounding landscape of beech trees which is evident in the architecture of the buildings and adorns the driveway approach to the school.

Once the new logo had been established we started the process of implementing the new brand guidelines which involved creating a new advertising campaign which stood out from the competitors. The theme of ‘individually known, individually nurtured’ was complemented by a series of stunning photographs of the girls carrying out a myriad of activities available at St Mary’s Shaftesbury. The contrast of this bold style and the white background highlights the individual talents and passions captured. Picador worked with the school’s marketing team, Mel Tibbs and Louisa Cowan, throughout the project. At a recent opening morning they commented, “We’ve got more interest than we’ve seen in years.” 

We designed an exciting new prospectus pack and a range of complementary stationery with the new logo,  typography and colours transferred to their existing website. As with most branding projects the process is ongoing with new signage, mini bus livery and social media templates scheduled for the new year.

I’m pleased to say that the feedback from staff and pupils has been amazing and I’m sure that St Mary’s Shaftesbury will go from strength to strength. 

Our work with Picador unfolded over several stages. Initially we were looking for a new logo for the school; something contemporary but not too ‘out there’ which properly reflected the values of our school and which could be used in conjunction with our existing school name typeface. Picador then art directed new photography and created a series of eye-catching advertisements for us. Finally, the third phase of our brand refresh was a new prospectus. Picador fully understood what we were looking for in our school’s literature and delivered a stylish, polished piece of work of which we are all extremely proud.

-Mary Arnal, former Headmistress

For further info about Picador Design email, visit or call 0117 244 0089


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