Personality plus: Pick a person to embody your theme

100520_TT_Theme person header

Who will your 2022 book be? Harry Styles? Kate Middleton? Once you know who your book is, you can clearly establish your theme’s personality.

“I want a pretty book.”
Three years ago, an editor’s demand changed the way Hill Country Christian School developed theme. “I want a pretty book,” she told her adviser. It was senior year, and she persuasively argued the staff had already done a bold book, a sassy book and a professional-looking book.

As a staff, they began discussing tone words that described the look they wanted: pretty, sophisticated, precise. They also wanted soft, gentle colors, a visual match for the three adjectives. As they brainstormed, a staffer commented, “That sounds like Kate Middleton.”

Instantly, a new way to develop theme was born. Connecting the theme to a person made the process clearer and more cohesive. Decisions were no longer made because someone preferred a design. “It wasn’t about what anyone liked,” adviser John Horvath said. “It was understanding who our book is.”

Hill Country theme_Kate fonts3
John Horvath used these font examples in his presentation “Find Your Look” at Amplify, the 2020 Adviser Workshop.

“Is this Kate?”
They started asking, “Is this Kate?” The answer governed every decision the staff made; what went in the book and what didn’t. A minimalistic look with dramatically large photos and excessive white space exemplified the precise and sophisticated aspects of Kate. The staff also felt understated headlines and multiple dividers per section personified Kate. See for yourself how the staff envisioned Kate in The Bard 2019.

The process also reinforced the idea that tone words weren’t enough. Pretty, sophisticated and precise are adjectives that fit Kate Middleton; they could also describe Meghan Markle. But the two royals have distinctly different styles. Connecting the theme to a person really helped the staff hone in on the theme’s personality, the book’s look and feel. “The whole idea is that there is something above and beyond theme that drives how the book should look and sound,” Horvath said.

Liking the idea, other schools have employed the theme person strategy. Musicians have been a natural choice, with staffs selecting Lady Gaga, David Bowie and Taylor Swift. The Bard staff has also continued the tradition—the 2020 book was design guru Joanna Gaines while the 2021 book was James Bond.

Who will your book be?

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