UC Logo Redesign Sparks Criticism

December 11, 2012

After 144 years, the University of California is getting a makeover. Many students and alumni, however, do not approve of the new look.

As part of a new marketing campaign, UC quietly introduced a new logo last month, reported the Oakland Tribune. The new simple and modern design features the letter “C” inside a solid block shaped as a “U.” The goal was to remake the UC’s image, making it more eye-catching and to illustrate its relevance to the state, therefore hopefully bringing in more revenue and fundraising.

“They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California—just more modern, user-friendly,” explained UC spokesperson Dianne Klein, to the Oakland Tribune. She also added that updating the logo showed that “there’s nothing static about an excellent university.”

According to The Daily Californian, the new logo was designed by an in-house team and has actually been in use for nearly a year. It had gone largely unnoticed until the Oakland Tribune brought attention to it and since then, has sparked criticism from the UC community, including numerous online petitions. As Inside Higher Ed reported, critics argued that there was no need to redesign the logo in the first place.

“Why would UC need to be rebranded? UC remains and will be the best public institution in the world. Also, UC is an educational institution, not a start-up company,” commented an individual on an online petition.

While some students said the new logo was simply unattractive, others described the redesign as kid-like, “cheap” and “corporate.” Many also argued that it does not reflect the UC’s prestige.

In response, Jason Simon, director of marketing and communications for the UC, posted a note on the change.org petition explaining, “What we have tried to do is to create a mark that is iconic, flexible and solid enough that it works to represent the UC system as a whole.”

In the Oakland Tribune, Klein also noted that the original seal, with all its complex details, did not reproduce well in digital format or in small places.

Both Simon and Klein noted that the new logo is not intended to completely replace the original seal. As The Daily Bruin reported, it will only be used for informal system-wide communication and on the University website. The original seal will still be used on many official documents, including diplomas, noted The Daily Californian.

According to Inside Higher Ed, UC is not the only one to create uproar when attempting to implement new logos or symbols. In the past, colleges such as Drake University, Middlebury College and Nicholls State University have all tried redesigns that garnered negative feedback.

Klein reassured critics that administrators are taking feedback seriously.

“We understand the passion and are gratified that so many people are engaged,” she said in The Daily Californian. “It’s been in use for the past year, and we expect it to evolve over time.”

Compiled by Heidi M. Agustin


“Logo Revolt,” insidehighered.com, December 10, 2012, Scott Jaschik

“Redesigned UC logo prompts criticism, online petition,” dailybruin.com, December 10, 2012, Katherine Hafner

“University of California introduces a modern logo,” insidebayarea.com, December 10, 2012, Katy Murphy

“Year-old UC logo redesign prompts sudden backlash,” dailycal.org, December 10, 2012, Andrea Guzman

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