Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Hey, let's redesign our logo!

This item, about Emerson College's new logo, got me thinking. 

Is there any endeavor more uniformly doomed than the logo redesign? It seems if you're a university and you want to spend a lot of money and make no one happy (except the design firm, I suppose) this is the best way to do it. 

A cursory search through the IHE archives brought these up:
Wright State spends a quarter million dollars  to remove Wilbur Wright from the logo

University of Dayton gets a new "Dayton Flyers" logo with a winged letter "D" 

The University of California's innovative flushing-toilet logo gets 30,000 people to sign a petition protesting it

Then we have Drake University's D-plus campaign, (not strictly a logo but an unfortunate graphic)

Does this ever work out well? Does anyone have a story of a successful logo redesign? 



  1. From 'man in 80s should've pads standing at a urinal' to 'Canadian maple books'

  2. My school did undergo a logo improvement. Nobody really disliked the old one, nobody made a big deal about needing a change, and nobody cared much about the new one. Apathy has a way of smoothing out the rough edges of these things.

    The University of California logo reminds me of the rotating graphic for software as it updates or loads. That's somewhat unfortunate and appropriate for a college.

  3. My school commissioned the creation of an additional logo. The existing one is basically our athletic mascot, and it's a fine athletic mascot: an apex predator with a reputation for ferocity.

    The new one is a re-hash of a mark used in the very early years of this place: an elegant lantern with which to the light the path to knowledge.

    And the expense barely ran into six figures, too, so it was a good deal. At a time when we were tightening belts in hopes of getting out of the red.

    All the faculty I've talked to really like the extra logo. They (and I) feel it goes well with our attempt to become something more than a glorified community college (while still serving as a local school for the region, of course).

    Needless to say, the use of the lantern motif is being reserved to the administration and the "foundation" (i.e. our endowment, such as it is). My business card choices all continue to feature the furry thing.


    1. You know what helps to become something more than a glorified community college? Fucking hiring some more faculty.

  4. My alma mater (a SLAC) underwent a thorough visual rebranding about a decade ago, I think it was, and all the redesigns were well-received. In fact, the athletics redesign was particularly welcomed. The letter-combo logo looks sharp and significantly less wuss-tacular than the old version, and the mascot (regularly voted one of the worst collegiate mascots in the country; prob'ly giving myself away on that one, but whatevs) got a facelift, too, and no longer looks goofy.

    But then there's the case of my grad school, which also had a far less successful visual identity makeover at about the same time. The consultants for this particular institution blew it in a spectacular fashion on not one, but two high-profile redesigns.

    The first disaster was the university's official seal. The consultants recognized that the logo is visually busy, so they recommended leaving most of it the same but deleting the multiple small symbols that pepper the seal; in effect, they were emulating what Cadillac did in deleting the Mergansers from its logo. Problem was, those small symbols represent the region's dominant--okay, make that only--agricultural crop and almost define the school's raison d'etre. I honestly don't know of anybody who didn't think the redesign was beyond stupid. The idea was D.O.A.

    The second disaster was the PPT slide template for official university business. I can't go into details about the colors, as we're playing the "let's be at least semi-anonymous" game on this blog, but here's the gist: The white area for presentation content was a tiny, practically unusable patch in the lower-right corner; the left sidebar--an enormous block of darkness--extended about a third of the way across the screen; and the top bar occupied the top a third of the slide IN A SCREAMING BRIGHT, PULSATING, MARGIN-TO-MARGIN, CAN'T-LOOK-AWAY OH GOD MY EYES ARE BURNING OUT OF MY SKULL block of color. This expensive travesty disappeared from the university's visual identity page within a week.

  5. Wright State's mascot used to be a little pseudo-Viking guy. They're still the "Raiders" but some years back it was decided that the little barbarian was a bad influence or something, so now their mascot is a wolf. They're still the raiders though. Ugh. BRING BACK THE LITTLE VIKING GUY!!!!

  6. I have this recurring fantasy wherein the school's mascot has something to do with its academics. This is particularly true for high schools, of which my weekly errands take me by several. What the fuck kind of message does it send students when "Home of the Rams" is a prominent, permanent part of the school's roadside marquee but the removable letter part of the sign might say "congratulations mathletes" for a day or so but is readable for but a second or two at normal traffic speed?

    My college mascot was the Arrant Pacifist. At the first and only football game I attended, I found out that it was apparently a thing for the other team's mascot to pretend to beat the shit out of AP, and he would not fight back. I left after that part of the halftime show.

    I believe I've described some of my joint's rebranding of several years ago (ah, yes, here). A la Mindbender's story, the final phase included a new powerpoint template, replete with poorly placed logos and color blocks. The design team acquiesced to reducing these elements and moving them farther into the margins, which left the largest, central block more free for adding text, graphics, what have you. That block's color was touted as chamomile or rosemary or something, but I refer to it as "post-asparagus piss."


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