Case Study

The Legacy of a Mermaid

Commonwealth School Identity Redesign

This mermaid—and its school— is fierce.  Founded in 1957 by Charles E. Merrill, Jr.,  this small, academically-rich school in Boston’s Back Bay was formed “to educate young people from diverse backgrounds to become knowledgeable, thoughtful, and creative adults, capable of careful analysis, fruitful cooperation, responsible leadership, and deep commitment.” Sixty-two years later, that mission holds true.

Maybe a mermaid isn’t the first symbol that comes to mind for a co-educational independent school, but after some historic research and insight from the faculty and students, we were totally on board. Once we got to know Commonwealth School, a modernization of their existing mermaid mark became the clear direction for a redesign.

Research Informed Identity

During the research and discovery phase of the redesign, we explored several directions for the logo including architectural elements unique to the school’s historic brownstone building as well as variations of an updated mermaid.

Perhaps a mermaid isn’t the first symbol one thinks of for a co-educational independent school. But with some historic research and insight from the faculty and students, a modernization of the school’s existing mermaid mark became the clear direction for a redesign. 

Design Iterations

After the mermaid direction was approved, we took the mark through multiple iterations to create a gender-ambiguous mermaid and get the perfect balance of positive and negative space. The final mark represents the uniqueness of the students and their fearless approach to exploring the world.

School Pride

The updated identity can be applied to a range of materials to build pride and increase awareness of the school.