UPDATE 2:37 pm. Dec. 14: The university has suspended use of the controversial logo. Learn more here. A UC online video about the logo that had appeared at the bottom of this post has been removed from the Internet by the university.
UPDATE 4:46 pm. Dec. 11: The university’s press office has posted a lengthy response to the online criticism of the new logo that in part explains the difference between the logo and the UC seal. In the response the logo is described as a “small monogram that appears on many of the university’s systemwide Web pages, as well as its marketing and communication materials.” The response also includes these quotes from Jason Simon, the marketing communications director at the university’s office of the president:
“The seal signifies the prestige and tradition of the university itself, and is a treasured part of the UC identity,” Simon said. “There has never been any plan to replace it with the monogram.”
The monogram serves an entirely different visual function than the UC seal — and media images showing the two symbols side by side have fueled that misunderstanding, Simon said.
Simon said there has been no discussion about dropping the monogram, but stressed that all of the elements of the systemwide visual identity were designed to be flexible, with the expectation that they would evolve over time.
An online petition asking the UC’s Board of Regents to find an alternative to the logo now has more than 47,000 supporters.
UPDATE 2:37 p.m. Dec. 11: The University of California just posted this response to the criticism of the logo on its Facebook page:
We’ve been listening intently to the feedback on the UC symbol, and we wanted to make sure people saw that it is just a part of a richer picture. Here’s a little bit of the before and after: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/documents/uc_brand_large.pdf.
Here’s the thing: It’s not replacing anything. There wasn’t a logo before, and the UC seal isn’t going anywhere. The symbol also isn’t new. It’s been on websites, brochures, advertising and other places for nearly a year now.
Did we consult people and test it? Of course. And we also used it in a mobile exhibit that stopped at all 10 campuses and nearly 30 other locations throughout California from September through November. More than 60,000 people came to the tour stops, letting their voices be heard on what really matters: ensuring that Californians understand the value and commitment UC has to making our state better.
Does everyone like the new symbol? No. That’s very clear. But strong differences of opinion and energetic debate are part of what’s made UC such an amazing place. This system reflects that diversity of thought: All of the elements (not just the symbol) were designed to be flexible, so it may evolve over time.
To Ethan Davis, the new visual branding for the University of California is “a witty, fresh, charismatic and entirely unstuffy aesthetic — an aesthetic that seemed to go against all standard expectations of what public education should look like.” Davis writes on the blog Grain Edit that the university’s new identity is part of what drew him to the job as a senior designer for the UC system.
“It’s exciting, and a big breath of fresh air to be involved. I look forward to more of it,” he states.
Others, however, are describing the new branding in less flattering terms.
“This looks like a flushing toilet,” writes one commenter on the Grain Edit post.
“…complete with buttocks,” adds another. On the KQED News Facebook page, commenters called it “lame,” “hideous” and “ridiculously ugly.” News reports about the change late last week have sparked an online protest that includes a petition asking the UC’s Board of Regents to find an alternative to the new branding. The petition had attracted more than 37,000 supporters by this morning.
Some also have taken to the comment threads of news organizations and blogs to voice their displeasure with the change. A commenter on a Fast Company post about the rebranding writes that “it’s demoralizing to hear that our University system is making a joke of itself.”
That’s probably not the reaction university officials were hoping for when they began the unveiling. The UC’s brand guidelines state that the change “embodies both the relevance and rootedness of the university.” UC system spokeswoman Dianne Klein talked with the Los Angeles Times about the inspiration for the change and how the new branding would be used. She emphasized that it will not replace the university’s seal.
…Klein said critics wrongly assume that UC is eliminating the traditional symbol. In fact, that will remain on all diplomas and official correspondence such as presidential letters, among other uses.
But she said the old logo does not reproduce well in small size on Internet pages and that UC wanted something more visually contemporary and versatile, especially for online efforts to seek donations and recruit applicants.
Among the places that you’ll find the new branding is on Onward California, the university’s new fundraising site. Vanessa Correa, the university’s creative director and the leader of the team that created the new logo, told Fast Company that it’s “meant to be scalable, flexible, dynamic, and adaptable; something that would let us talk to our diverse audiences while maintaining recognizability.”
“Our unit was formed with the express purpose of improving the university’s ability to tell its stories,” says Correa, who was principal of her own studio in Chicago before moving west. “How can we make them intelligible and relevant to the public?” UC is a hub not only for groundbreaking research, but for the Bay Area’s burgeoning startup scene. The identity would need to reflect all of that.
A post on the petition opposing the change quotes a university official as saying that UC is listening to the feedback it’s receiving online.
What do you think of the new branding? Does it reflect the university’s identity? Post a comment below and let us know.