I want the logo and website to exude confidence, cleanliness, simplicity, strength, resilience, accomplishment, and preparation. I also want a fresh vibe that reaches down to the 15 yr old as well as the too-cool-for-school senior. Importantly, it must also resonate with parents, who will most likely be the ones on the site and paying the bills. The students themselves may never even get to the site. It needs to look hip and cool to the parents, too. I'd like it to look different from the other "college counselor" websites that are filled with ivy covered walls, multi-colored trees, and a lot of generic clip art and stock photos of perfect kids smiling on the quad. We may have to go in this direction, but maybe not.
While I've done mostly "male-oriented" jobs, I would like the website to resonate with females as well. I'm not sure if females will be drawn to this type of training, but so far the feedback has been yes. The website will most likely have a "masculine vibe" given my history, but I don't want to alienate females. I also don't want to come off as too intimidating. Unfortunately, I'm 6'7" 220 lbs, so it's hard to get around it. I'm just a lot bigger than these kids. I hope to use this as an advantage to show stability and strength.
I want our logo and website to look/feel different. The "college prep" space is starting to get crowded/cluttered and I want to be different. I deliver "empowerment workshops" to high school kids (starting freshman year and going through senior year) that have massive impact on their lives. There are other people/services that do similar things, but their format is different and their backgrounds are different. Most of these "college prep" services are conducted by 35 yr old females who are former admissions officers. They do a very good job at helping the students "check off the boxes" on their applications, but many lack any real world experience.
PrepWell Academy is different. The experience that they will get from me will be quite different from what they get from the standard "college counselor". Not necessarily better, but different. In fact, I will likely refer kids to these college counselors if I believe they need it. I will also refer them to financial aid specialists. I want to be their mentor and hub through the whole process.
At PrepWell, they will hear the real scoop from someone with actual life experience - at world class levels. I have a unique background that I hope will drive interest and curiosity. A quick background: Yale University, Div I College Basketball player, Harvard Business School, Navy SEAL Officer, Goldman Sachs Investment Banker, entrepreneur, firefighter, Shark Tank contestant, and husband and father of 4 boys. I would like this "vibe" to show up in the logo and website. I don't want to overdo it or look/sound cocky - just confident, self-assured and resourceful.
The classes will consist of "in-classroom" as well as outdoor "experiential" learning. In the latter, I will teach the kids how to break wooden planks with their hands, show them what it's like to go into the ocean at night and then roll around in the sand before going on a long hike, and other unconventional things. During classroom time, I will teach them about what's expected of them during high school in order to prepare for college (what classes to take, what to do over the summer, how to study, how to stay healthy, how to crush the SAT, etc). Ideally, I will create a pipeline of students, starting their freshman year, who want to continually come back to PrepWell for additional training, mentorship, and inspiration. I want the website to feel like a place that they will come back to over and over as their needs change.
The classes I intend to run are not expensive (in the big scheme of things). This is not really intended to be an "elite" prep program. I hope to have 50-100 students in some of the workshops. Others will be smaller and more intimate (20 people). I want this to seem accessible to most kids. Each workshop will cost a few hundred dollars (not thousands).
I want to make sure the parents feel as if their kids are in good hands with me as their mentor.
The college admissions process has become extremely complex and intimidating. Unfortunately, that rumor is well known and kids (and parents) tend to procrastinate in dealing with this reality. They put their heads in the sand for 3 years. I want to break this cycle, and give students and parents a comprehensive timeline of milestones to follow, so that they can begin to engage in the process early - rather then procrastinate out of fear or anxiety. We will face it dead on from early on. This is one of the reasons I want the logo and website to be simple and clean. I don't want them coming to the website and only get more confused with bells, whistles, buzzers, and all the rest of the distracting nonsense. I want them to feel a sense of calm and confidence that it's all going to be okay. Just pick what year you will graduate from high school, see what we have to offer, and decide if it's for you or not. End of story. People are too busy to wade through pages and pages of links.
You'll see that I have attached a rough concept of what I envision as a logo element and the page layouts for the website. The logo element I have in my head is an anvil. I am not dead-set on this, but let me explain why it speaks to our philosophy.
I want the kids to think of themselves as master craftsman of their own lives. This doesn't come without work and toil, however. Being a blacksmith is a dirty, hot, and risky job - so is navigating through high school these days. A blacksmith starts off with a "vision" in his/her head. The analog to this is a student with a "vision" to attend a good college. The blacksmith then has to heat up the piece of metal to get it ready to shape. This "heating up" is what happens during 9-10th grades.
Next, the blacksmith "prepares" the piece of metal by banging it against the hard anvil - over and over again. The anvil has to be extremely strong (foundation) to accept this beating. The blacksmith bangs, and hits, and bangs and hits until the metal piece begins to take shape. (this speaks to the beating students get during junior year with a crazy academic workload, standardized test, etc). They get banged up. The anvil is made out of specific material which creates the perfect "rebound" when struck. We try to build this type of "resilience" in our students by making them aware that not everything is easy and not everything will go their way. They will need to be resilient and bounce back - over and over again.
Finally, the piece is done and the blacksmith needs to make the piece "presentable". This includes cooling, polishing, sanding, etc. This is the same thing that students will do in their senior year when they have the ultimate "presentation" of who they are and what they stand for - the college application. Again, I don't want to be inflexible and demand that the anvil is part of the logo element, but it's something for you to think about creatively.
Alternatively, I also thought of a college "crest" design that harkens to the college years. That might be fun. It's a little more safe and generic, but I'm open to suggestions.
Ideally, the logo element comes out really cool and serves as our brand identity. We will put it on t-shirts, as the element on a Facebook page, we may even have a real anvil that gets engraved with graduates names. I don't know. I imagine having a strong, yet simple, symbol that represents what we stand for at PrepWell. Our overarching philosophy is this. The college admissions process is exactly that - a process. It must be understood and dominated from early on. The steps are (1) vision, (2) preparation, (3) presentation. This "process" will repeat itself indefinitely in the students' lives. It will be a process to apply for their first job, to get a promotion, to apply to grad school, to write a book, to buy a house, etc. These are all "processes" that begin with a vision, get shaped with preparation, and end with a presentation.
In terms of the font style, I would err on strong and simple over fanciful. I imagine using "small caps" as the font style. This seems to give a lot of logo/design flexibility since there won't be any part of the letters that dip below the horizontal plane line. Please use your own creativity and merely use this as a guide.
I'd like to keep the website very clean and simple. You'll see on the attachment, there aren't many fancy dropdown menus or pages buried in other pages. There aren't even that many links or photos. I want the parent to get to where they want to go quickly and easily.
the biggest add-ons that I'd like to have are (1) widget that allows people to fill out a form in order to receive a pdf, (2) a widget that brings people to an outside entity (eventbrite?) to register and pay for the events, (3) link to a blog. That's about it.
I don't think I want to go crazy with standard stock photos of perfect looking students hanging out on a college bench. Maybe, but I'm hoping to have imagery that is less generic and a little more edgy (to match with my background and personality). Check out the mountain photo here where it says "working with only the best" (http://www.thehonorfoundation.org/). Clean, simple, powerful. This doesn't really say "high school student" but I think you get the idea.