The quick pitch: Douglas S. Freeman High School in Richmond’s West End neighborhood has a long-standing history of values-driven, community-centric excellence that is instilled in students, faculty, alumni, and friends of the school. However, since opening in 1954, Freeman’s nickname has been the “Rebels”. A number of cultural factors including other successful school renaming efforts, a summer of equity-focused activism around the country, and a shift in local sentiment around vestiges of the confederacy resulted in a push to rebrand the spirit of the Rebel.
Reinvigorate a beloved local high school by replacing the current nickname to promote inclusion and understanding and to develop a new visual identity that the students can use to rally behind.
Some felt alienated by the Rebel nickname, while others felt as though the school’s identity would be compromised with a rebrand. How might Freeman meet the delicate balance of embodying the spirit of the school while also embracing the need to create progressive change in the community?
Freeman has become an integral part of the history and lifestyle of the surrounding neighborhood. Community members are united around the sense of community the school brings to the area. Rather than focusing on the namesake of the school, let's focus on the Freeman Family that lives and breathes the school's values daily.
We wanted to place greater emphasis on the collective instead of the individual.
Current students, coaches, &
re-brand committee members + stakeholders
1,000+ responses that included questions about school identity, core values, & how they view the community as a whole
A school board representative, a former principal, the athletic booster president, & a former athletic director
The Insight: Without the idea of the Rebel, some feel Freeman would be lost. The Freeman identity is not rooted in its nickname; it’s rooted in the spirit of it.
Repurpose the Rebel.
The Freeman meaning of the Rebel has transcended the word “rebel”. It has taken on the meaning of an independent spirit, the idea of going against the status quo, fighting for a unified cause, and striving for something better.
We want to reinvent this sentiment and capture its essence in a more inclusive identity. The common belief in fighting for something better and the continuous pursuit of excellence were the main driving factors.
Criteria for Naming:
“The new nickname needs to live in the bricks of Douglas S. Freeman High School."
All community members should be able to identify with the new nickname. There should be a connection between the past, present, and future of Freeman.
“It gives you a sense of being a part of something bigger. You are a team, not just a collection of individuals.”
Students at Freeman are individuals, but they are also part of a strong collective. It's important for the nickname to have the ability to live on its own, but stand stronger as a group.
“Freeman is not about a status quo, it’s about continual growth, constantly improving and becoming better."
The nickname should represent evolution and development, and be dynamic. We want it to symbolize the act of moving forward with intent.
"The nickname is badass. It stands for toughness and strength. And the students want to represent that.”
Freeman stands for perseverance, courage, grittiness, giving 110% in all situations. The nickname should epitomize the word "rebel" in its spirit by symbolizing what the school stands for.
Unique + Timeless
“We are established, worn, and polished
all at the same time.”
The school should have a nickname that will stay relevant and significant through the test of time. It should walk the line between traditional and modern.
Introducing...The Douglas S. Freeman High School Mavericks
Bringing the Maverick to life: Here's why we love it. This logo gives a nod to the drive of the Maverick - directional and pointed. The strong M shape is immediate while the illusionary F makes this mark a pillar of individuality for Freeman and Freeman only.
Matt Cavallo (AD)
Hannah Berling (AD)
Hamza Ali (AD)
Amanda Yoon (CBM)
Ellie Proctor (CBM)
Ali Weiner (ST)
Hunter Mott (ST)
Joe Mrava (XD)
Research plan + discussion guides
Focus group moderator
Deck flow + presentation