The right balance to reach students and parents
The leaders of Eastside Preparatory School, a college-prep school in Kirkland, Washington, embody the values Chalkbox seeks in all of our clients: They are good people doing good work. We’ve been working with them since 2006, and it has been wonderful to see the school grow over the years. After starting with just 16 students and six employees, enrollment now is around 500, with more than 100 staff members supporting them.
When we were first hired, the school wanted marketing and admissions materials that better reflected the quality and standards of Eastside Prep—its lofty mission is to “inspire students to create a better world.” Several years later, they also sought to redesign the overall look and feel of Inspire, a semi-annual magazine.
In 2018, six years and 12 issues after that first redesign, Inspire was due for another update.
Familiar, but fresh
The magazine serves several purposes: It represents the culture and values of Eastside Prep, but just as important, it aims to excite and inform students and parents. Prospective students and their families are a core audience as well. Inspire is a vital vehicle for driving growth.
This project was really several projects in one; not only did we need to create a new style for the magazine without making it feel foreign to the previous look, we also were tasked with designing each individual issue on an ongoing basis. That meant (and still means) dealing with factors such as timing, page count, and the issue’s theme, along with article length and graphic elements. The overall challenge of keeping things familiar yet fresh applies to each individual edition. How do you work within an established style and still create something that feels new?
To the magazine rack for research
We conducted extensive research on other publications, beginning with contemporary magazine design. First, we looked at layout and organization, typography, and recurring styled components such as the table of contents. Then we narrowed our focus to examine magazines that target children and young adults, along with publications with affluent and educated audiences.
Several things stood out, including the use of ample amounts of negative space, bold colors, and a dynamic use of type). These findings all heavily influenced our approach for Inspire.
We developed a new design system—a robust set of visual standards that can be drawn from when designing the magazine. As we worked with Eastside Prep leadership to decide on the right direction, the timing was perfect—it allowed us to roll right into designing the upcoming issue.
New geometry to go with new typography
The redesign employed the school’s existing color palate, but with a bit of a twist; new textures and color floods provided more depth and visual interest. We chose a new typeface, Freight, which has a wide and flexible family to draw from.
We also shifted the magazine’s visuals toward more geometric and abstract visual elements rather than the literal illustrations of prior editions. Utilizing geometry in unexpected ways is a strong metaphor for the Eastside Prep experience: Students at the school begin with base components for education, as might occur elsewhere; here, however, they are composed and delivered in a unique way that provides greater depth and engagement.
Overall, Inspire is professional and refined, but accessible to students and parents. It’s conventional yet unconventional, the perfect balance between readability and playfulness.
“We have had the opportunity to work with Chalkbox on our marketing materials, including our school magazine that we share with current and prospective student families. They are quick to accommodate us and extremely easy to work with regardless of the project or timeline. We look forward to continuing to work with Chalkbox and benefiting from the wonderful work they do!”
Vickie Baldwin, Director of Institutional Advancement, Eastside Preparatory School
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