The Marian logo that the community knows and loves is finally under the process of becoming trademarked, after almost 25 years of using it as the official school logo. The majority of students here at Marian don’t think much about the logo, and don’t know much about its history or backstory. Most students didn’t even hear that Marian’s beloved “M” with a crown was threatened earlier this year, when it was discovered that multiple other stores and parishes across the globe had been using the Marian logo as their own.
When Frank Ervin, a local artist and Marian parent, designed the logo in 1994, it marked a clear step forward in the development of the Marian brand. For years, the school had moved from one logo to another, trying to find the perfect fit to represent the school and everything it stood for. When the school was founded in 1955, the logo was similar to the emblem of the Servants of Mary. This very symbol can still be found above the entrance to the convent just outside of the school doors.
During the 90s, the logo went a different direction, and became the cursive “Marian” writing that is only a vague memory now. It was around this time that administration decided they needed a change. The school didn’t have a clear logo that could be easily associated with Marian and attached to the Marian brand.
Frank Ervin put a lot of thought and care into designing the new logo. The emblem was meant to be a contemporary version of the Sisters’ symbol, with its own unique twists. It is these twists, such as the seven points on the crown that represent the seven sorrows of Mary, that make the Marian logo instantly recognizable.
This sort of recognition is exactly what allowed a Marian parent to spot the logo, though slightly altered, at Gloria Deo, a religious store here in town. When Susan Rosenlof, Marian’s marketing and communications director, heard about this, she immediately contacted the store and asked for their supplier. This led her to the Nelson Fine Gifts Co. in Steubenville, Ohio. The store had nine items for sale with the Marian logo on it, and the store claimed that it was designed by their artist.
After this incident, Rosenlof discovered that the logo had never been trademarked, despite the school using it for almost 25 years. “I talked to [staff members] who have been at Marian for many years… Essentially we came down to, we don’t think it was ever registered,” Rosenlof said.
Rosenlof contacted the school attorney about the situation with the store, did a reverse Google search on the Marian logo, and what they found was shocking. In addition to the local store’s use of our logo, two parishes in the United States, and a store in India, were also using our logo.
Rosenlof knew action had to be taken. With the help of the school attorney and Bill Ervin, son and successor of Frank Ervin, Rosenlof discovered that the school could still issue a cease and desist if they could find documented proof of use of the logo back in the 90s. In a eureka moment, Rosenlof remembered a box of old press relations material from the 90’s that were shoved into her closet due to construction. It is sheer luck that these boxes ended up in the possession of Rosenlof, and that she had not found time to go through them yet. It was in these boxes that Rosenlof found the documentation needed to issue the cease and desist, and begin the trademarking progress.
For the time being, the logo will be “servicemarked”, instead of trademarked. This is because Marian does not provide goods, but a service. After the finalization of the trademark request, the Marian logo will be updated, at least online, to feature the trademark ®. Due to the recent government shutdown, it will take around six to nine months for the trademark request to be processed and finalized. In the meantime, the online logo will be updated to incorporate the “SM” , and prevent any future stealing of the symbol.
So next time you see the Marian logo, think twice.
Think about all of the history, service, and values that the symbol has come to represent. Appreciate it for what it is.
The logo is a symbol of the Servants of Mary, staff, students, alumni, and Marian community, and that community should be grateful that it is now safe and sound.