A new brand takes flight

80% of Santa Monica students are involved in some form of music program. Teachers receive enhanced training. And sports programs are kept competitive. Actors Maya Rudolph and Rob Lowe, baseball great Rick Monday, and astronauts Randy Bresnick and Johnny Kim are all products of a long tradition of balancing academics, athletics and the arts.

But when the Education Foundation that had previously supported both Santa Monica and Malibu schools confirmed they would now be responsible only for funding programs within Santa Monica, they quickly needed to update their name. That created the perfect opportunity to design a fresh, new brand identity that would announce and embody the change. And they asked FreeAssociates to spearhead the effort.

What we did

We conducted a session with the executive team to help them clearly define their brand attributes. That led to a new logo, which we’ve collectively dubbed “the flying pencil”. It represents the creativity of the Santa Monica community, where kids can truly soar.

We launched the new identity with an unveiling to major donors, including posters and a fold-it-yourself paper airplane version of the flying pencil. Then we applied the brand to a range of communication tools — both print and digital.


The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In the year following its introduction, SMEF saw a 12% increase in parent participation, with parent donations rising by 9%. As well as a 7% increase in community corporate contributions.

Donors, students and teachers are proud to wear their Ed Foundation tees, and the mark has become widely recognized throughout the community. It’s helped connect the support the Ed Foundation offers with the actual services kids and parents experience in the school system.


8117 West Manchester Ave.
Suite 417
Playa Del Rey
CA 90293-8745



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