Black Rock Middle School

Helping Middle Schoolers Feel Like Royalty

Brand Strategy & Identity

Visual Identity, Mascot Design


Iris’ longtime client, Lower Merion School District, in suburban Pennsylvania, was opening a new middle school: Black Rock Middle School. This required moving students from their two existing middle schools into this new facility.  Iris had worked with the District when they rebuilt both high schools to develop mascots and expand their brand identity, so we understood the underlying tensions and excitement with this kind of a move.

While the new school was still in the planning stages, the students selected the “Royals” for Black Rock’s moniker, complementing the Dragons and the Knights at the district’s other middle schools. Strength, intelligence, and a sense of welcome are some of the qualities students said they wanted to represent them.

As Black Rock’s inaugural school year drew nearer, the district reached out to us to craft the visual identity for the Black Rock Royals. The new mascot would be center stage at Lower Merion’s elementary school promotion celebrations when rising 5th graders traditionally receive sweatshirts sporting the logo of their middle school destinations.

Bringing the Royals to Life

After much collaboration and a number of iterations, we landed on a chess pawn wearing a crown. By incorporating a chess piece, we were able to tie in the district’s reputation as high achieving while expanding beyond more common depictions of royals. In addition, the gender-neutral iconography of a tall pawn brought out the youthfulness of a middle schooler standing on the threshold of young adulthood.


Expanding the Deliverables

In addition to the full logo for signage and sports usage, we created a simplified version of the logo for business and academic purposes. This simplified version used the crown piece of the iconography along with typography and colors that linked it to the more elaborate sports version.

The Seal of Approval

When we presented the design to a small group of students at the conclusion of our process for final input, the design was enthusiastically received. One of the students even said she couldn’t wait to get a T-shirt with the new Royal on it.