New York city public schools benefit greatly from private sector support through organizations like New Visions for Public Schools. Currently the largest of its kind, the nonprofit has prominent supporters like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. The organization provides funding to a variety of schools, including over 74 public and charter schools, and helps to develop teacher residency programs. With a new day, comes a new vision, as demonstrated by the organization’s new identity designed by New York, NY-based Chermayeff & Geismar.
Designed by partner Sagi Haviv, the new mark — a “V” formed by three escalating bars — is a symbol that can work in all forms of media as well as help identify all of New Vision’s schools and programs:
“The sunrise image has become somewhat clichéd — the new abstract symbol is a more modern and original visual identity,” says Haviv. “Although the new mark is less literal, the three bars suggest both growth and dynamism, as well as climbing steps, and is simple enough to work everywhere. We also felt that ‘Public Schools’ is an integral part of the name and should not be treated as a caption.”
— Chermayeff & Geismar Press Release
The previous logo was implemented in the early 90s and featured a sunrise, a highly overused visual trope, and now suffering from a lack of distinction: from a distance, it might have represented anything from an opthamologist to a new-age cult. The new identity is a significant departure for the brand. The escalating bars forming a ‘V’ suggest progress and unification — a bigger and more conceptual message than the last identity. Improved also is the hierarchy of information, which places equal emphasis on “New Visions” and “for Public Schools”, helping distinguish the organization’s purpose more clearly.
Regarding type style, the departure is a welcome change of pace. The new slab serif treatment echoes the geometric crafting of the “V”, creating a link, however subtle, to the icon itself. The overall impression feels “right,” but would have profited from a more angular slab serif to more closely resemble the sharply pointed icon.
The identity’s use of color works best in limited quantities. The logo works well on simple white backgrounds, like the prototype umbrella. Less successful applications like the brochure interior overuse color resulting in a less contemporary feel.
New Visions for Public Schools’ new look is much improved. The redesigned identity lends a greater sense of credibility to the organization. With any hope, its new appearance will result in increased funding for New York schools and a brighter future for its students.