Thursday, December 13, 2012

Brandsinger praises new UC logo

The University of California just unveiled a new logo—at which flocks of students, alumni and designers have bleated their horror. They say it's not pretty, not dignified, not tied to our heritage, not whatever. I say, it's wonderfully, jarringly, irreverently different—and that's what it should be.

After all, a logo is a signal. Like the turn signal on a car—Left turn here! I'm turning left!
Or the signal on a light house—Careful, there are rocks over here! 
Or a white flag—Okay, stop shooting, we're done!

So what does the new UC logo signal?—left turn? hidden rocks? surrender? Nah. The new logo signals pure change. We're now different... and getting differenter with each new student who comes here.

Is the thing ugly?—ach, those colors! Is it asymmetrical? Eccentric? I say: it's the logo of a university, not a museum or a graveyard. It's the signal for a place of perpetual youthfulness. The critics should just settle down, have a glass of milk or something, and watch dynamic minds play, try, seek, test, and completely disregard all pretense.

Brandsinger

26 comments:

Kenneth Cooke said...

Herein lies the major problem with identity design and design in general—there is no universal criteria for what is "good". Ask two designers and they will almost certainly disagree for one reason or another. Look at how Paula Scher got skewered (no pun intended) over Weight Watchers. All that said, the new UC logo sucks—big time. Signaling change for the sake of change is never a good idea. And what is the big change that this revolutionary logo is supposed to signal? And even if there is a huge change going on this logo trivializes it by using an infantile visual vocabulary and color palette. People who don't understand "design" still recognize quality and this brain dump cheapens what UC stands for (I hope!). It screams BIG BOX STORE (do I hear Ikea anyone?) It's not edgy, not futuristic or pushing any limits except good taste. Totally misguided and clueless. You know I like non-linear solutions—solutions that stake out new ground and take risks. This UC thing does nothing of the sort—it's banal and down market in a most unfortunate manner—education is a critical asset, a huge cost to all involved both in time and money. There are SOOOO many ways this could have been inspirational and influential. This makes Kaplan look positively Oxford-like.

Rem Tonar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rem Tonar said...

I'm afraid I have to agree with Ken and Alan. The old crest used an inspiring color, had classic lines and communicated the history of a proud institution. The new logo feels cheap, tacky, meaningless and desperate - trying too hard to be trendy. Students want to go to a school that is prestigious and storied, not one that is "eccentric" or "different". If I were a UC student, I wouldn't be mad because the new logo is ugly. I would be mad because the new logo betrays my expectations. I expect my school to be respected, strong and dominant, academically, athletically and symbolically. I don't expect my university to be playful, cute or kitschy - which is exactly what this logo is. As a design exercise, I have no problem with the new logo. As a strategic component of a larger brand, however, it fails to express the history and mission of the institution it represents and fails to inspire the students who have to bear this new standard.

Jerry Kuyper said...

To those 50,000 folks who have signed the petition to remove the new logo. I ask:

Do you remember the uproar about the iPad name, before it became one of the best selling products ever, (over 90 million sold)

As I recall it was compared to a feminine hygiene product.

brandsinger said...

Hardi har, stodgy friends of mine -- misguided, clueless, cheap and tacky? -- Hey, it's the University of CALIFORNIA, baby! What do you want, Brooks Brothers?

I'm laughing at the outrage. And Remington wants a logo that expresses the history and heritage of the brand. Such musty old criteria!

Jerry -- mi amigo -- thanks for the whimsical support. To the rest of you critics with your tired criteria, I say to each one, "Et tu?"

New and clunky rules!

brandsinger

Anonymous said...

I agree with brandsinger that it is jarring, irreverent and different. But why? Has the university suddenly become something shockingly new and different? I don't think so. Is it jarring just to be jarring?

And from a pure design perspective it is very flawed. Some brand people are very focused on words and writing. And at the most simple level writing has to be grammatical and use correct syntax. But this new logo is barely readable. If the shield is supposed be be an abstract U, the dip in the top is too small. How do you ever use the logo against a different color? On many ways it is not functional.

At the end of the day, a logo that can draw 50,000 signatures asking for it to be withdrawn speaks for itself. A good

brand is supposed to represent people, not make people resent.--Bill Bonnell

Unknown said...

UC suspends use of logo, says it was distracting

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/UC-suspends-use-of-logo-says-it-was-distracting-4118987.php#ixzz2F3RLioP0

Jerry Kuyper said...

Unknown was me, I got distracted proving I wan't a robot

Rem Tonar said...

Hey now Brandsinger, I was just at Brooks Brothers for a very nice holiday event haha. A logo can express history and pride without looking like a "flushing toilet," as the COO of an online dentistry website remarked.

Anonymous said...

As a loyal Brandsinger reader, which is usually extremely well written and amusing, I am shocked to see that you are favorably impressed with the new UC logo design. It's absolutely atrocious and makes me question your judgment. From now on, I will have to read everything you post with a jaundiced view. Yours, Siegfried Ellinberg, Assoc. Prof. of Design

brandsinger said...

Again, thank you all for taking the time to write and for the many chuckles you've evoked (or elicited...or stimulated...or generated...or provoked...or activated...or tickled out of me...or caused to erupt...— ah but the English is so rich with possibilities!) And isn't design as equally open to expression? Must we all be scoffers and scorners of a new approach to university branding? It won't reproduce, it looks like a toilet, the U is too abstract...sob sob... scold, scold. Suck it up you whining mollycoddles!

Of course, the whole debate seems to have become moot with the apparent abandonment of the cause:
"Was the new University of California logo really bad enough to warrant suspending its use? I'd say: Ugh." -- that's from the LA TIMES!

So congratulations, whiners and design sophisticates. You share the design sensibilities of the LA TIMES!

brandsinger

brandsinger said...

Oh by the way:
To ahem "Siegfried Ellinberg" -- I recognize your writing style and suspect your signed name to be a nom de plume.

(...and I think I know who the plume is behind the nom!)

Slimchicken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Merriman said...

I don't have much of an opinion on the logo. Perhaps that's because I'd rather not reveal to the brandsinger community my utter lack of taste? In any event, I do wonder how the UC system chose the colors? I know most of the system schools share a blue and gold identity, but this is quite obviously UCLA. Go Bruins!

brandsinger said...

Hi Todd -
Yes, the colors do recall UCLA.

In brief, this logo violated every law of logo-dom -- which is probably why I find it appealing.

Brandsinger

Mark said...

Maybe I misunderstood the original intent of this logo, but I thought:
1. This was a logo for the university system, and not for the individual campuses.
2. The old seal remains in use, and is reserved for more official uses like diplomas and other stodgy things.
3. The new badge was added so that the university system had consistent brand to use instead of inconsistent one-offs that use bastardized versions of the seal for things that don't need it.

As such, it seems to me that the backlash is misplaced.

1. This new badge is not going to represent your school specifically. Your school will retain it's character.
2. Your diploma will still have a stodgy old seal on it with all of it's historical implications.
3. The old seal will now be more protected in it's stodginess, because the seal will no longer be slapped all over informal things.

Maybe I misunderstood, but to me, this is like Proctor&Gamble changing their logo and everyone gets upset because they are worried they won't be able to find Tide on the store shelves.

The official statement from UC about backing down from this logo sounded like, "people don't get it, and it's not worth our time to explain it to an angry mob." So they will return to being a parent organization without a clear identity, forced to use the stodgy university seal for everything.

Brand communication must be hard.

brandsinger said...

Hi Mark - thanks for commenting.
I think you are confused. The new logo was meant to represent the entire UC system -- though the seal was to be retained for diplomas and other behind-the-scenes official uses.

Now -- in light of angry protests -- use of the new logo has been suspended, per recent NYTimes article. Back to the seal for all uses until this has been sorted out.

(...and by the way, "it's" = it is. It's easy to confuse it with its troublesome nemesis the possessive pronoun.)

Stodgy old seals reign supreme on the UC campus... or is it rain? or rein? Ce n'est rien! -- Happy New Year and g'night.

brandsinger

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