Shana Ferguson
Graphic Arts, Communication, Marketing, Reading Informational Text, Speaking and Listening
Material Type:
Homework/Assignment, Lesson, Lesson Plan, Reading, Unit of Study
Middle School, High School
  • Advertising
  • Branding
  • Cyber Citizenship
  • Film
  • Logos
  • Media Literacy
  • Rhetorical Analysis
  • wa-edtech
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
    Media Formats:

    Education Standards

    Reading Media: Analyzing Logos, Ads, & Film in the ELA classroom

    Reading Media: Analyzing Logos, Ads, & Film in the ELA classroom


    This media literacy unit was designed and piloted with junior English classes at the start of the school year. Activities can easily be adapted to suit secondary students at various levels. Within the unit, students analyze corporate logos, corporate advertising, movie trailers and stereotypes found in media related to Native American culture. Within the unit, students also learn how to consider the ways in which media appeals to ethos, pathose and logos and how to identify the tone of a piece of media. 

    Permissions, Copyright & Funding Source

    Except where otherwise noted, this work by Julie Christian, Kevin Erickson and Shana Ferguson, Vancouver Public Schools, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All logos and trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Sections used under fair use doctrine  (17 U.S.C. § 107) are marked. 

    This work contains links to websites and videos operated by third parties and references to digital platforms. These links and platforms are provided for your convenience and do not constitute or imply any affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship, approval, verification or monitoring.

    Funding for this unit was provided through a Media Literacy Grant from Washington's State's OSPI. Materials do not reflect the views or endorsement of OSPI.

    Cover image by Robert Bye on Unsplash.

    Before You Begin

    While some of the activities refer to specific applications, many options are available to educators and their students. Check with your IT deperttment ahead of time to see which programa may be the best fit for your district and students. In this lesson, we reference:

    Make sure your students are able to download, post and share content and plan adaptations as needed.

    We have also curated some corporate websites and film options for analysis. These of course can be exchanged for content you feel is most appropriate and relevent for your community of learners. 

    We also recommend that you provide multiple opportunities for students to analyze corporate logos and ads. It helps to curate those ahead of time and they can be used a warm ups at the start of lessons or for small groups / partner work in class. 

    Introducing Media as a Constructed "Text"

    Some students may be unfamiliar with the notion of reading images, symbols, film or advertising as constructed texts. These activities help students to begin to analyze logos and their own media creation. 

    Student Introductions: This activity is designed to start the school year but can be adapted with different prompts, ie students could do a book talk, could do a practice interview or elevator speech on a topic, etc. For the purposes of this unit, it helps students to consider the conscious and unconscious choices they make when they create media. They could also use photographs, artwork, or other forms of media as a starting point.

    Once students have submitted videos, they can reflect on their own media production. This can also be the starting point for a class discussion abotu how we package, edit and produce our own media. 

    Reading Corporate Logos

    It is helpful if students have access to a program that will help them annotate a variety of Logos. Choose some logos ahead of time for whole class, partner or individual practice. 

    If students have access to Kami, this video can help them get started with using it as an annotation tool. Kami also has a library of help videos for students and educators.

    Warm Up Activity

    You can show students a series of logos and have them see how many companies they can name that own that logo. You could play this as a Kahoot, as a partner activity, etc. You'll want to gather logos ahead of time. 

    Sample Logo Quiz from Buzzfeed

    Reading on Logos: "Logos That Stick: Analysis of the World's Most Famous Logos" from the Logo Company

    Student Response to Reading

    Once you've introduced logos, you can begin practiving and scaffolding how to "read" and analyze logos. The following activities can be spread over a few lessons to help stduents gain skills before choosing their own logos to analyze.

    Questions for Guided Practice: You can use these while sharing a logo with the class, posting practice logos for small groups to discuss, etc.

    • What do you notice about the logo?
    • How do color, positioning, font choice or other design elements help to grab your attention or communicate an idea?
    • What emotion does it evoke?

    Logo Analysis: Transition to more formal analysis using the Rhetorical Triangle pdf. Students can use Kami or another annotation tool to add a logo and write down their notes and analysis. Teachers can also prepare pdfs ahead of time with a logo already posted in the pdf.

    Student Activity: Your Chosen Logo Analysis

    Students can choose a logo that hasn't been discussed as a class for this independent activity.

    • Introduction to Using the Rhetorical Triangle


    Some Suggested Corporate Logos for Class Use:



    Reading Images

    Encourage students to apply the same level of analysis and design concepts to a wide range of media. A great warm up in class is to begin adding photographs to your discussion. 

    Guiding questions for analysing photographs:

    • What is going on in the picture?
    • What do you see that makes you say that?
    • What more can you find?

    Images for practice:

    You can also help students hone their observation skilly by finding differences between two similar images. 

    Reading Advertisements

    These activities build on the logo activities above but begin to add layers of complexity to how stduent read and respond to corporate messaging. You cna continue to start each day with a practice logo or ad analysis to help stduents gain confidence in their skills. 

    Student Activity: Analysis of 2 Ads

    Sample Analysis of Ads: You can refer students to both the video of an annotation and to the sample annotation that has written and video comments embedded using Kami.

    Sample Ad Annotation

    Recommended Online Sources for Print Ads:

    Adding Ethos, Pathos & Logos

    Students can begin to delve more deeply into the way various forms of media are contructed for a particular purpose or effect. They can use this as an opportunity to revisit their previous analyses and to explore new samples of media.

    Introduction Video: Mr. Rogers and the Power of Persuasion

    This website gives a clear overview of ethos, pathos and logos along with a helpful visual you can share with students.

    Students can review the different appeals and how they fall within the realms of ethos, pathos and logos with these handouts. You can also use the ads students analyzed in the previous lesson to help students apply these rhetocial terms.

    Students can practice applying terms and concepts to TV commercials: 

    Analyzing Tone in Commercials

    Once students can identify different appeals to ethos, pathos and logos, they cna begin to analyze the tone of a variety of commercials. 

    Begin with an introduction video on tone.

    Students can practice identifying the tone and how these forms of media appeal to ethos, pathos and/or logos. This can be done as a whole class, as a partner activity, or in small groups.

    Student activity: Ask students to choose their own television, TikTok or YouTube ad and complete the rhetorical triangle with the addition of ethos, pathos, logos and tone. 

    Analyzing Tone in Film

    Introduce the concept of tone in film with this video.

    Show these examples of contrasting film trailers to foster discussion of how filmmakers create tone:

    Student Activity: Tone Tunes Assignment Comparing Two Movie Trailers

    Stereotypes in Media

    This section focuses specifically on how media has portrayed indigenous Americans but can be expanded to consider other cultural groups and how media reinforces and perpetuates bias, systemic racism and ethnic stereotypes.

    Begin by asking students to brainstorm stereotypes that they are aware of regarding indigenous tribes and people. You can share this graphic as an example of what others students have shared. 

    You can also have students read this quick overview of 5 common stereotypes shown in media about indigenous American people.

    You can have students apply their media literacy analysis skills to some samples of advertsiing that depict indigenous American people. This could be done in a discussion, using the rhetorical triangle, or some other suitable response. 

    Students can compare / contrast depictions of indigenous Americans in 3 video clips. Key questions: How is the character crafted in the clip? Consider their physical appearance, the way they speak, how they interact with other, etc. To what degree does this reinforce stereotypes?

    Closing Question/Reflection: What can film and advertising companies do to ensure they do not perpetuate racist stereotypes? Should we buy products that rely on stereotypes in their ads or logos?

    Students can discuss as a whole class, write as a journal response, or respond in some other format.

    Final Assessment

    Essential Question: How do various forms of media create positive and/or negative messages about a specific group of people, a lifestyle choice and/or a particular culture?

    Students can apply earlier concepts and questions to evaluate their chosen pieces of media. Encourage them to consider forms you haven't included, for example song lyrics, Instagram posts, TikTok videos, etc.

    As a class, brainstorm some possible topics: age groups, ethnic groups, gender identity, etc. Make sure students avoid reinforcing stereotypes and provide options for students to share analysis privately if they prefer to do so. They may be able to look back at previous free choice examples as the foundation for a topic.

    Students can create final presentations or other formal projects to share their analysis of 3 related ads, images and/or films.