- Western Sydney
Malek Fahd Islamic School (MFIS) stands as an iconic figure within the Muslim community. Established in 1989, it is one of the nation’s largest and oldest Islamic schools, long dedicated to delivering a faith-led education for every child. Now, the school has partnered with S1T2 on a journey of renewal, crafting a brand that positions MFIS as the foremost choice for Islamic education in Australia. The comprehensive rebranding effort began with a brand strategy, and extended through to the creation of a logo and brandmark, visual identity, school uniforms, promotional materials and an industry-leading website.
Located in the heart of Western Sydney, Malek Fahd Islamic School has long been a leading figure in the landscape of faith-based education. It is a cornerstone of the community, spanning four campuses and thousands of students; a melting pot of culture, heritage and tradition.
One of increasingly few ‘generational schools’, MFIS is a place where those who once were students return again and again, as educators, board members or parents of the next generation. It is a long-standing fixture of the community, nurturing young minds to flourish within a faith-led education.
After operating for over thirty years, Malek Fahd Islamic School came to feel that its brand had become out-of-step with the school’s vision and trajectory. The school needed a way to communicate not just its history, but its evolving story. To that end, we partnered with the school on a journey to define and express their unique identity in the community and beyond.
We began this journey by undertaking an intensive Discovery process. Over the course of a month, we conducted interviews and facilitated workshops with a diverse group of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, alumni, and students. We visited classrooms and prayer spaces, witnessing first-hand the daily rhythms of faith that define MFIS.
Throughout this, we saw first-hand the way the school seamlessly integrates Islamic practices in its routine; from the collective pause for daily prayers to the dedicated Quranic study sessions. This immersion, and the insights it allowed us to gain, was instrumental in our ability to shape a brand that truly reflects the lived experience of the school community.
Through conversations with principal Dr. Zachariah Matthews and the school’s leadership team, we came to appreciate the impact prophetic leadership principles had on shaping the school’s vision for the future. The insights we gained into ethical teachings and moral guidance illuminated the path we would eventually take during the creative process.
As we delved deeper into the fabric of Malek Fahd Islamic School, it became clear that ‘Islam as a way of life’ was not merely something that was said, but the central axis around which the entire school revolved.
The rebrand was an opportunity to showcase how Islam encourages a holistic approach to education; one that encompasses mind, body, and soul. A particularly valuable ethos for young Muslims growing up in Australia, offering them a comprehensive framework for learning and personal development within their cultural, religious and environmental context.
From the classrooms to the playground, the library shelves to the science labs, our aim was to craft a visual identity that mirrored the omnipresence of faith in every aspect of Malek Fahd Islamic School. We envisioned a tapestry where each thread represented the school’s dedication to faith, interwoven with academic rigour.
In the midst of this profound journey, we recognised the need for a manifesto to encapsulate our findings. This manifesto became our narrative beacon, guiding every aspect of our work moving forward. It was a heartfelt proclamation, declaring the school’s commitment to nurturing an environment where the principles of Islam are not only taught but lived with every breath.
Our creative process took us through the annals of time, exploring the intricate world of Islamic geometric patterns that have graced mosques, madrasas, sacred manuscripts, and architectural marvels for centuries. Far from being mere embellishments, these patterns are a fusion of mathematical exactitude, spiritual depth, and a representation of the boundless nature of Allah (god).
As we explored this rich tradition, we discovered that at the heart of every Islamic pattern lies a simple yet profound shape – the circle. In Islam, the circle is more than a symbol; it is the foundational geometry from which all patterns in Islamic art spring. Often invisible to the eye in the final artwork, these circles set the groundwork for a myriad of geometric shapes.
When it came to designing the new brandmark for Malek Fahd Islamic School, we drew heavily on these long-held traditions of Islamic geometry. Our goal was to create a logo and brand pattern that would resonate with the school’s rich Islamic heritage, while also hinting at its contemporary vision and ambition.
The final logo, and expanded brand pattern, provides a nod to the school’s prestigious history while also taking a bold step into the future. Simple linework depicts a subtle mosque window, with negative space used to imply light, unity and oneness.
With the basis of the school’s visual identity established, our focus turned to the uniform. Having spoken to students, parents and teachers, we knew that the current uniform was falling short – not only in aesthetics, but in practicality. As such, our goal became not only to update the uniform in line with the new brand, but to reimagine it entirely.
In redesigning the Malek Fahd Islamic School uniform, we were guided by the evolving needs of students. We considered factors such as mobility, weather, as well as the physical changes experienced by students who could be at the school from Kindergarten right through to their HSC. Whether a student is playing or praying, the new uniform was designed to be ready for faith in practice.
The uniform design represented a significant departure from formality, aiming to merge Islamic values with modern practicality. This involved a thoughtful redesign that prioritised comfort and functionality while respecting Islamic dress principles.
The uniform design represented a significant departure from formality, aiming to merge Islamic values with the practical demands of everyday use. The final design struck a balance between maintaining a neat appearance and providing comfort for daily school life. While the uniform is designed to be functional, it was also crafted to help students feel a sense of pride in representing their school, reinforcing their identity and connection to the community and religion.
When it came to showcasing the school’s new identity, we knew that a sense of authenticity would be key. To accomplish this, we commissioned renowned photographer Joel Pratley. With Pratley’s documentary-style, we were able to capture an authentic look into the everyday practices of young Muslims in Australia while experiencing the school’s ethos, culture, and community firsthand.
As with any modern organisation, a school’s website plays a crucial role in establishing the values and identity of the school to the community. As such, we knew that the design and implementation of the new Malek Fahd Islamic School website would be an important component of the rebrand.
Our approach in designing the MFIS website was defined by a sophisticated blend of elegance and practicality. The final design features an editorial layout with bold headlines. Eye-catching photography, combined with the overall design scheme, gives a strong sense of the school’s character and vision.
Arabic elements are also woven throughout the website, reflecting the school’s Islamic tradition. The use of WebGL technology subtly animates Islamic geometric patterns, making the website not only informative but also engaging and interactive.
The renewal of Malek Fahd Islamic School went beyond merely refreshing the logo; it signified a profound shift for the school both philosophically and visually, a change that had been in development for years. When it came to launching the new brand, we felt it important to take the community on the journey with us, inviting them to understand the reasons behind this transformation in detail.
To achieve this, we created a launch video to communicate the story and purpose behind Malek Fahd Islamic School’s new brand.The video is an innovative blend of 2D/3D animation and live-action footage; a creative mosaic that tells a compelling narrative of the school’s growth and the rebrand’s significance.