Many of us have fond memories of our school days, and a few of us have perhaps even held onto one or two mementos – an old tie in the school’s colours, the badge you picked off your blazer on the last day of term, or school reports charting your progress (or lack thereof) over the course of the years. School symbols, colours and mottos matter because they instill a sense of belonging in pupils, a sense of shared identity which can help strengthen the school community and cement friendships. School signage has an important part to play in promoting that shared identity, but it’s an age-old tradition you may not know too much about.
Signs for schools have long been a way of setting out that shared identity for all to see, from the pupils and teachers who pass them every day on the way to their lessons to the members of the public who happen to be passing by. Academic signs have long been an important part of a school or university’s ‘marketing’ programe, as crucial today as they were hundreds of years ago.
Early school signage
To take an early example of this type of academic branding exercise, King’s College Cambridge was granted its coat of arms on 1st January 1449 and, like many academic institutions of the era, began to incorporate this logo into the structure of the building itself, as well as on official documentation. As crests and coats of arms are usually associated with distinguished families, a college’s coat of arms denoted that all students who attended were part of this new ‘university family’, collectively bound under a meaningful symbol.
Eton College received its coat of arms on the same day as King’s College, nine years after it was founded by King Henry VI, making it the oldest school arms in use. The official blazon once again appeared on stonework and important papers, and can still be seen on the prestigious school’s academic signs, almost 570 years later.
Throughout the early nineteenth century and the Victorian era, when many schools were founded to improve education standards in the country, new academic institutions were keen to adopt school crests, logos, uniform colours and mottos, to distinguish them from other establishments. Crests were often carved above the doors of the school, along with the date they were founded – arguably an earlier form of the modern signs for schools which we see at the gates today.
It’s clear that academic establishments have long known the power of visual marketing and carrying that ‘brand identity’ across various platforms – from the carved crests above the school doors right through to the headings on correspondence, the colours of the uniform and now the modern school signs which appear at the entrances of every school, college and university. The power of that logo and motto can really make an impression, both visually and emotionally, and your school signage speaks volumes about how you feel towards your establishment and the important work you carry out within it.
Why invest in school signs?
Well-designed and high quality signs are a symbol of the pride you take in your work, and kept looking in top condition, they demonstrate a love and attention to details which reflects glowingly on your institution. When passersby see run-down or poor quality signage outside a school, they will automatically suspect it doesn’t bode well for the overall standards of the establishment – a poorly maintained ‘shop window’ for your school may well create lasting, negative impressions on all who see it. If standards are so low when it comes to the all-important facade, people might suspect the same low standards to be carried through in everything from the quality of teaching to the behaviour of your students.
Making a positive first impression really could depend, therefore, on the quality of your academic signs. Remember, this is your face to the world and the first thing strangers will notice, but your school signs are also the first and last thing your pupils will see as they arrive for lessons and leave after the final bell. They may not give much thought to the school sign by the gate, but the overall appearance of the school and its grounds really can have an impact on how they feel towards the place.
Research has already shown that we all perform better when working in pleasant surroundings. Of course, that means state-of-the-art classrooms which are clean and well-decorated, but creating a pleasant environment which is conducive to good academic performance also extends to the outdoor spaces of your school. Invest in beautiful signage both indoors and out, and you could help create a more pleasant atmosphere which boosts morale and improves students’ attitudes to both their environment and work. We’re all more inclined to look after the space around us if we can see it’s worth looking after.
Now’s the time for an upgrade
With schools now breaking up for the long summer break, there has never been a better time to upgrade your school sign. With many years’ experience in this field, The Sussex Sign Company can provide you with beautiful, bespoke signage for schools, expertly crafted to reflect the incredible work your establishment does and its long, proud traditions and history.
For more information on the services we can provide, simply get in touch with our expert team today on 01273 424900