Creating a new nickname and visual identity for the Freeman 'Rebels'

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The Ask: 

Douglas S. Freeman high school is located in Richmond, Virginia.  Since opening in 1954, Freeman’s nickname has been the “Rebels”.  However, a number of cultural factors including other successful school renaming efforts, a summer of equity focused activism around the country, and a shift in local sentiment around vestiges of the confederacy, resulted in a push to change the Rebels nickname. 

The Challenge: 

While many people supported the change, a large percentage of the Freeman community grew attached to the Rebels name, causing tension between two vocally divided camps: those who resisted change due to fear of losing Freeman's pride and tradition, and those who felt alienated by the current one.

The question now - what should the nickname be?  How can we ensure that it creates an opportunity for healing between two vocally divided camps?  How can we create something exciting and rallying that transitions an equally split student body into a new, unified group?

Our Approach: 

Focus groups with the student committee, coach's committee, and original steering committee. 

In-depth interviews with the Principle, Student Activities Director, Athletic Booster President, and District School Board Member. 

1000+ survey responses from current students, former students, staff, parents, teachers, and community members. 

In order to understand the "Freeman brand," we had to understand their core values  and what they meant to the Freeman family.  

The Opportunity: 

People believed that the 'Rebels' nickname was what supported Freeman's identity, and they saw themselves in that identity.  However, Freeman's identity was not rooted in the name itself, it was rooted in the spirit of it. 

Retain the Freeman identity by repurposing the same spirit and values the Rebel had come to embody in a new, inclusive nickname.  




The Freeman Mavericks are independent, spirited, and inspiring. Driven by the collective pursuit of excellence, the Mavs go against the status quo to champion innovation, forward-thinking, and inclusion.


This logo gives a nod to the drive of the maverick - directional and pointed. The strong M shape is immediate while the illusionary "F" makes this mark a pillar of individuality for Freeman and Freeman only.

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Young School Students

The Team

Ellie Proctor (CBM)

Charlotte Robins (ST) 

Hunter Mott (ST) 

Ali Weiner (ST) 

Matt Cavallo (AD) 

Hannah Berling (AD) 

Joe Mrava (AD) 

Hamza Ali (AD) 


Steven Ebert (Lead Strategist at Sylvain)

Newman Granger (Strategy Director at Wieden + Kennedy)