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UPDATED: Cardinal logo decision explained

The new Alexandria Area High School logo (left) was designed to feature a competitive and determined look but one that wasn't aggressive. (Contributed)

Alexandria District 206 Communications Coordinator Jill Johnson said the decision to create a new Cardinals mascot came from the desire to have a consistent, unique look that represented the values of the Alexandria community.

The district made the decision with the help of multiple local stakeholders. Plans to revamp the mascot started taking shape after the new Alexandria Area High School name was approved by the school board on December 17, 2012.

Members of the district started to meet with stakeholders, ranging from local apparel companies to members of the community, shortly after that to get an idea of the look they wanted to accomplish. The new design was created locally through Creative Impact Design of Alexandria.

“Working with David Hartmann through the activities office, with coaches, with the Cardinal Athletic Foundation, with parents, with student athletes – this goes back to 2012,” Johnson said. “What came out of that dialog consistently is, we want a Cardinal that looks competitive and determined but not a Cardinal that looked aggressive because that doesn’t speak to our community values.”

A logo that was unique to the Alexandria community was also an important part of the district’s decision. The Cardinal head that has been used in the past is almost identical in look to the logo used by the Arizona Cardinals professional football team. It is also similar to other Minnesota high schools such as Coon Rapids and Willmar.

With the move to the new high school in the fall of 2014, the district wanted a mascot logo that people could see and identify with Alexandria.

“To me, that’s the mark of a good brand or a good mascot – that you’ll know that that’s the Alexandria Cardinal,” Johnson said. “We want something consistent and something that reflects our community values. We know we’re not going to make 100 percent of the people happy. I wish that we could with every decision.”

A post on the Echo Press Facebook page on Thursday evening that showed the old and new Cardinal head had already generated more than 35 comments from the public by Friday morning. Almost all of them opposed the new look.

State Representative Mary Franson, R-Alexandria, was one of the commenters. She changed her Facebook profile picture to the old Cardinal head and encouraged others to do the same for the next few days.

“I don’t like to hear people upset but I understand they get emotional about things,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be one of those things we’re not going to get 100 percent of the people on board. I wish we could, but I think the process was a good process, and we worked careful to get stakeholder input.”

Johnson said the district won’t special order new uniforms for Alexandria teams just to get the new logo on them. Some current team uniforms don’t even have the Cardinal mascot featured on them.

The Nordic ski teams in Alexandria were recently scheduled to receive new uniforms and those incorporated the new Cardinal head. That’s how it will work with every team as the district gradually moves to incorporate the new look on uniforms.

“Where we’re able to update, we are doing that,” Johnson said. “But that will be phased in over time. We wouldn’t want to put that burden on our teams.” 

Trademarking a unique new logo to help market and create a brand for the Alexandria Area High School was a big part of the decision to make a change.

District 206 released a Brand Guide to the Echo Press on Friday morning that shows a total of six new logos and explains what went into creating the new looks. Their goal is to have the Cardinal be the unifying mascot across the district’s full spectrum of extracurricular activities.

“Branding is more than a logo,” it said in the Brand Guide’s introduction. “A well-developed brand is built on a foundation that represents the essence of the school's mission, vision, core values, attributes and qualities of its academic and extracurricular programming. Brands encourage loyalty and create a sense of pride. Our primary goal is to promote the valuable and varied programs and services that AAHS provides.”

Click here to view the attached PDF of the Brand Guide to view the primary and secondary logos that have been created and why they were designed the way they were.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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