Branding Design Music

Case Study: The Dudley High School Marching Band of Thunder

I love marching band. I love graphic design. So, when I was approached by the Director of Bands at James B. Dudley High School to design a new logo for the band, I was very excited. However, this project would require me to illustrate a full panther mascot. This wouldn’t be the more minimal logos I had grown used to designing. I don’t consider myself an illustrator so this would be a challenge. But the challenge was well for worth it.

The Deliverables

The project actually called for two logos to be designed. One would be the panther face illustration and the other would the letter D, stylized to represent the school band. Both would be used on shirts, wind suits, hats, and other apparel. I also would need to design a concept for a shirt that included the panther surrounded by the name of the school and band.

The Main Logo

The most challenging piece of the entire project. First, I tried to think of and sketch a general concept. I knew I wanted to make an intimidating panther but I wanted to make it unique. The key to an illustration like this is to determine the most identifying aspects of the animal. What absolutely has to be there? You’re not trying to draw everything single hair on the panther’s head but people need to be able to tell what it is.

Structurally, I used the power of symmetry to make half of the face the way I wanted then copy and reflect where I could. With something like this, I needed to get the general shape of the head and essential elements right before adding any shadows. Naming and organizing layers was crucial. There were a lot of parts to this logo that had to be managed.

The five whiskers on either side of the nose represent the 5 lines (and 4 spaces) on a musical staff. I also put a musical note on the tongue. Hidden within the nose area are two bass clefs with the lines on each side acting as the beginning of the musical staff. I love logos that have references throughout the design that don’t distract from the overall concept. I’ve made similar references in the past.

The “D”

The letter mark was a much easier task. I took a bass clef and extended its shape upward to make the D. The thunder bolt inside references the Dudley High School band nickname, “The Band of Thunder”. While the panther acts as the big, in-your-face logo, the styled letter D can be used on polo shirts, hats, etc. as the formal stamp of the program.

The Full Shirt Design

Mr. Hayes also asked me to come up with shirt designs that included the logo and the text surrounding it. His concept was something comic book / superhero like. I used Superman comic covers as inspiration. The cloud and extra shapes were used to add to the overall feeling of power, pride, and ferocity.


I am very happy with the end result. This project pushed me outside of my comfort zone to make something more intricate and involved. I’m very glad I could help with the branding of one of the premiere high school band programs, which happens to be in my hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina!