ARC Academy of Inquiry

A visual identity for a school that helps students find their interests...

The Outcome

I helped the ARC team create a visual identity that encompassed their core values and provided a symbol for progressive education in the community.

The Challenge

To create a modern visual identity to represent the schools unique learning model.


ARC Academy of Inquiry

Project Type

Visual Design

Project Year



ARC Academy of Inquiry is an independent middle school bringing real inquiry-based, interdisciplinary learning into the heart of Victoria, BC. The cornerstone of their approach is meeting each student where they are at, allowing their interests and needs to direct their learning.

Before the school opened up, the team over at ARC asked me to help them create an identity for their school. The brand for ARC Academy of Inquiry needed to be modern, professional and progressive.

It was my mission from the beginning to help the ARC team create an identity and brand that had a modern twist while still keeping the idea of a school in mind.

The Essence Of The School

To truly put the essence of the school into an icon, we first needed to understand who the target clientele was and ARC's core values. ARC is about personalised education and allowing the students to direct their learning through the students interests, the icon needed to symbolise that. We started with discussions about the target clientele, their values and the brand itself. The clientele are parents with a progressive mindset that want to provide a more unique education for their children.

The core values we identified during our discussions were inclusive, community and progressive. In finding the target clientele and core values, this provided a foundation for the identity design ideas to be built upon. The identity needed to be simplistic and memorable, including as few details as possible to allow for clarity, ease of recognition, and association to the school. Creating the identity was the last step before opening the school, so we had to get it right.

The Start of Something Special

For the first round of designs I chose to focus on the inquiry model as the basis for the ideas, the question mark and lightbulb are symbols of the inquiry model, however they did not quite hit the mark. They were missing the core values of the school. We also found the second round to be too simple. I suggested that we have a meeting to discuss these options further and see where I went wrong.

After this meeting, we primarily focused on the lightbulb idea. However, there was hesitation in the team as it included too many details and they felt that the parents and students would not be able to connect with it. It did not feel right. Through our discussion, we took a look again at the second round of designs and the idea of a certain symbol came to mind that would encompass their values.

First round of logo exploration

Second round of logo exploration

The logo that got us closer to the image the team wanted.

The Result

The team showed me the Chinese Ren symbol that means people or person. We decided to draw ideas from the symbol and see where that took me. The idea that we finalized was three lines forming into a circle, each line is suppose to be an arc, with a stylized A in the middle which references the Chinese Ren symbol. The logo evokes community and inclusivity through the breaks in the circle and the modern style focuses on their progressive mindset.

In the end a brand new school opened up with a modern brand identity that showcases their progressive learning model and their core values in a simplistic package. It became the symbol for middle school progressive education in the community.

Since working with ARC, they have had many positive responses regarding their visual identity from parents and students.

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