Inside Higher Ed: New University of California logo sparks outrage

By Scott Jaschik, for Inside Higher Ed

December 10, 2012



Credit: University of California
University of California's seal is on the left; the new logo is on the right.


One student posted a comment at The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley, comparing the new logo for the University of California System to the loading icon on YouTube. Another posted: "That was what I was thinking! Then someone had to ruin it for me with the toilet flushing comments, which I now cannot unsee..."

Either way, they (and thousands of others) are giving a failing grade to the new logo, and calling for the university to abandon it. The university has until now used its original seal, dating to 1868, featuring an open book and the words "let there be light". The new seal is theoretically supposed to show a C inside a U.

More than 30,000 people have signed a petition against the new logo. "The newly designed monogram of the University of California, while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal," the petition says.

Comments posted on the petition website call the new logo "corporate", "cheap" and "the logo of something found in the toddler section of Toys R Us". Many question why the university even needed a new logo, saying that the original seal reflects the university's values.

One comment said: "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."

Protest pages have also sprung up on Facebook, where people can express support at places titled "The New UC Logo is Awful", "Stop the UC Logo Change" or "UC Alumni Against the New Logo", among others.

The university is defending the new logo in part by saying that the seal isn't going away. Jason Simon, director of marketing and communications for the university system, posted a note on the petition website in which he said that the seal will still be the official seal, and will be used on many documents. But he said that it's "not an either/or situation - we are not trading in the seal for the new mark".

And Mr Simon said that the new logo helps in ways that the seal does not. "The new mark was created as a part of our broader efforts to build awareness and support for all the things that UC does to make California (and by extension the world) better," he wrote.

"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. The mark can be used in a combination of the various UC blues and golds as well as in a multitude of applications. "Seals are wonderful and carry a legacy and tradition. They also signify bureaucracy, staidness, and other not-so-great characteristics. Much of this was evident in the testing and discussion we did as part of the process."

The University of California has also uploaded a video to YouTube explaining the ideas behind the entire branding effort.

University of California identity

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