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Yearbook branding goal setting


Students will reflect on last year’s book (and maybe more) to figure out what they collectively like and dislike for their look and feel for the next year’s theme. They will collectively decide what they want to do to ensure brand consistency.


  • Students will create a visual and verbal theme they all support
  • Students will analyze different uses of graphics, design and typography from various sources.
  • Students will create a brand that is appealing to the student body to advertise a product they will want to purchase.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


A 3-hour work day in the summer to brainstorm


2-3 45-60 minute classes


Magazines (encourage students to bring in their favorites as homework before the lesson or work day)

Yearbooks from other schools (contact a yearbook rep to help gather samples)

Post-It Notes

Pinterest, Google

On Location (optional)

This lesson is fun to conduct at a local book store near the magazine rack or at a workshop in the summer.

Lesson step-by-step

1. Look and feel discussion — as long as it takes

Have students answer the questions below about the previous volumes of the yearbook. Advisers may want to have a copy on hand for visual aide.

Make sure to establish this as a safe zone free of criticism. All members need to feel encouraged to speak out.

Ask these questions:

  • Did you like the look of our previous? Why or why not? Students can look at multiple years. The more samples the students can see, the more opinions will be expressed.
  • If you did not like the look, what would you have done differently? (They may not know, and that is okay. Validate where they are coming from.)
  • If you were the only one choosing the theme look and feel for this year, what would you do? Visual and verbal answers are welcome.

No matter where the students are in their staff experience, they can still contribute.

Next, the students need to think about what kind of mood, trend or feel they hope to convey.

Using other books or magazines, show any of the following designs that give off a feel of:

  • Trendy
  • Modular
  • Traditional
  • Elegant
  • Contemporary
  • Fun
  • Clean
  • Sporty
  • Add adjective(s) and example(s)

Have each student vote by writing their choice on a post-it note for a visual of where the majority interests are.

Then, ask the following questions with samples present:

  • What tone or mood do we want to set?
  • Visually, what would that tone or mood look like?
  • Verbally, how would we convey that type of tone or mood?
  • Encourage everyone to participate here.

Students can either add to their existing post-it note, or they can make a new one with this information. Again, have the visual of what the majority of students want.

Before the next step, try to reach a consensus on the overall tone, mood, feel the staff is going for. Validate those in the minority and see if there can be inclusion of something they like. 

2. Scavenger Hunt — 60 minutes

It is optional to complete this step before #1 or after #1, depending on how opinionated or experienced the staff members are.

If this lesson is at the bookstore, have the students gather magazines they are inspired by. Encourage them to look exclusively for the tone, look, feel they have agreed to.

If this lesson is in the classroom, have students look online, through magazines and yearbooks brought for this activity.

No matter the location, have students use post-it notes to mark pages they like for design. Make a pile. If on computer, students may want to create a Pinterest board, share it with each other, and collect. Ensure students are on task looking for the consensus of tone, look, feel. It can be use of fonts, breaker ideas, verbal inspiration, folio design, theme page design, graphic elements that inspire, etc.

3. Discussion — as long as it takes

Reviewing the treasures found, have students explain what they liked and didn’t like. Make a new stack of those everyone likes and a stack of what doesn’t match the branding goals set above. There will be a lot of options, so try to be inclusive instead of narrowing down to 2-3 right away.

After the first elimination round, reevaluate the good pile that made it. Narrow down with consensus. It is through this process that everyone will have ownership, and the group will find their branding they will be willing to partner with for the year.

When the group makes final decisions and everyone has agreed, celebrate!