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BREADCRUMB

NOTRE DAME PREP LAUNCHES REFRESHED BRAND

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August 16, 2023

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

New logo and marketing strategy to give voice to a single set of messages across all school communications and demonstrate fidelity to a single brand.

The new school logo emphasizes more strongly Notre Dame Prep's Marist roots and represents the spiritual foundation of the Marist Fathers and Brothers congregation, which founded the school in 1994. 


Nearly a year ago, administrators at Notre Dame Prep began a series of discussions and interviews with key stakeholders within its community to not only help support a successful enrollment effort — always a key priority for an independent school — but also to help the school move its branding and messaging to a new level and position the school to build on its current population of mission-driven students.

Interviews in September and October of 2022 with students, alumni, parents, faculty, administrators and board members represented the first phase of a brand refresh, which helped build an understanding of Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy and its message as communicated to date and to explore ideas for new, more compelling ways to tell its story. 

"We heard from countless members of our school community who told us what they value most about NDPMA, but more importantly, we heard about what kind of an academic institution they'd like to see going forward," said Andrew Guest, head of school. "What we also heard is that Notre Dame Prep needs to celebrate itself more and continue to tell its story in consistent and compelling ways."

Realizing the importance of such an effort, Guest, with the approval of the school's Board of Trustees, decided to bring in a firm that specializes in both independent and Catholic school communication. The school contracted with Kelsh Wilson Design, a branding and marketing agency in Philadelphia experienced with both kinds of educational institutions.

Reinforced Marist identity

Fred Wilson, principal and founder of KWD, was truly excited to be involved in the process.

"We found that Notre Dame Prep is a school of so many strengths that it's not hard to find great messages," he said. "The challenge was to focus in on just a few key ideas to make Notre Dame's story accessible and give it the brand power it deserves."

New marketing materials for the school include a viewbook, above, and storybook, below, that help define Notre Dame Preparatory School as "a Catholic, coeducational independent school providing an exemplary educational experience to students in grades pre-kindergarten through high school." 

KWD's extensive client list ranges from Malvern Prep, an independent Catholic middle school and college preparatory high school in Pennsylvania, Choate Rosemary Hall, a private, co-educational, day and boarding school in Connecticut, to Temple University and Georgetown.

Guest added that one of the most important outcomes of the year-long brand refresh was the tightening up and simplification of the school's primary identity and the reinforcement of its Marist identity.

"You will notice that as a part of our striking new school logo, the words 'A Catholic and Marist Community' has been integrated into its design," he said. "It is who we are and it's the very definition of the kind of institution we will be for many years to come. We wanted to ensure that when people see Notre Dame Prep, they also see the importance of our Marist identity."

According to Guest, another feature of the refreshed brand identity is that going forward, all three divisions of Notre Dame will now fall under the "Notre Dame Preparatory School" brand umbrella. He said the school finally is positioned as founder and current Corporate President Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m., has always said: "We are one school with three divisions."

Campus signage, which will continue to be updated throughout the fall, reflects the new brand and identity direction. The three divisions of the school will now be known as Notre Dame Prep's lower school, Notre Dame Prep's middle school and Notre Dame Prep's upper school. All students are now Notre Dame Prep students, taking full advantage of Notre Dame Prep's already strong brand equity in Southeast Michigan.

Visual identity and messaging guidelines

As part of the brand refresh, the Notre Dame Prep will release a new brand foundation, complete with a visual identity system that includes new typefaces, an expanded palette of colors and the modernized logo. KWD also worked with Notre Dame Prep on a robust messaging system that emphasizes the school's major strengths and differentiators.

A "Message and Graphic Standards Guide" is being developed to help the entire NDP community and its wide network of suppliers and vendors bring a new level of impact to school communications. The key to that impact is consistency — giving voice to a single set of messages across all communications and to demonstrate fidelity to a single brand.


"Our goal in a project like this is not only to develop messages with impact, but messages that are authentic," said Mike Butler, a strategist and senior writing associate at KWD. "The image and key messages we project should reflect what people within the Notre Dame community know and love about their school.”

The school believes that it will take another year to fully implement the changes warranted by the refreshed branding. 

"I think it's important to note that there will be no significant impact on school uniforms for the upcoming school year as we foresee the new embroidery branding rolling out more fully in the 2024-2025 school year," Guest said. "Also, our athletic marks will not be altered as part of the new brand platform. The interlocking ND and leprechaun will continue to be the strong identifiers of our very strong athletic program."

New marketing materials have been developed and the school plans to launch a new website later this fall which also will be reflective of the new branding and messaging direction. 

“We are eternally grateful to the many people who made this work possible,” Guest said. “All the hard work and enthusiasm exhibited by our current families, alumni, faculty and staff have supported our goal of moving Notre Dame Prep forward as we engage new families more meaningfully, add to our student pipeline and create authentic messages that resonate with all our audiences.

"I would also like to thank the advancement office led by Mark Roberts; our marketing and communications team of Mike Kelly, Dan Lai and Jim Sesi; our enrollment management and admissions directors Kathleen Offer and Greg Simon; Fr. Joe Hindelang, s.m., Marist Provincial; and our local Marist community: Fr. Leon Olszamowski, s.m., Fr. Jim Strasz, s.m., Fr. Ron Nikodem, s.m., and Brother Louis, s.m., who all contributed to this process. I'm hopeful that the naming and branding strategy will help bring the community together, further cement us as a Marist school and solidify our brand for the next 30 years."

The Notre Dame Prep athletics identity and logos are not changing as part of the school's refreshed branding.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School 
Notre Dame Preparatory School is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School's upper school enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame Prep's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.