New, modern UC logo evokes cries of ‘foul’

The University of California system has started using a modern logo intended to be easy to use on the Internet, Facebook, and social media.

It hasn’t gone down well.

While the University started using the modern logo in November, people only became widely aware of it after news organizations reported on it last week. Within days, a group of students and alumni had posted a petition on calling for the removal of the spanking-new logo. By Monday morning, 38,340 people had signed onto the protest. A Facebook page “Stop the UC Logo Change,” has 4,500 “likes.”

“The newly designed monogram of the University of California, while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal,” reads the petition. One commenter on Facebook wrote: “It reminds me of an overhead view of a toilet flushing … not just money … down the toilet.”

The original 144-year old seal, with the system’s motto “Let There Be Light,” is not being replaced. It will still be used on diplomas and official correspondence. But the university wanted to create a snappy, modern brand that stood out when reproduced on line, or needed to be small, Dianne Klein of UC’s Office of the President told the Oakland Tribune.

“They wanted something that would reflect the innovation, the character of California — just more modern, user-friendly,” said Klein. “That’s not to take away from the gravitas of the original seal.”

The new logo features a deep U with the letter C nestled at the bottom. It comes in a variety of colors.

Jason Simon, the director of marketing communications for the UC system, posted an explanation of the role and purpose of the new logo on the petition.

“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. 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.

“Our challenge is to represent not only the work done on our campuses but also in UC medical centers, agriculture and natural resources efforts, research centers, K-12 preparation and outreach efforts, and even things such as overseeing the state’s 4H program or the University of California Press. And, of course, the longstanding impact of our alumni. People experience the results of these efforts every day but the University receives little recognition for them. This is the message of our Onward California campaign. Much of that is visible if people want to visit Onward California. There are amazing examples of the ways that UC touches people’s lives every day and we are proud that so many people have visited the site or taken part in outreach efforts over the last several months.”

To show how the designers arrived at the new logo, UC created this video:

University of California Identity from University of California on Vimeo.

What are your thoughts? Is the logo an improvement on the original, or a travesty — or somewhere in between?

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  • The Sharkey

    How can it be memorable when it looks like dozens of other similarly generic rebrandings?

  • Charles_Siegel

    Reminds me of a swastika.

    (Just visually. I am not violating Godwin’s Law by implying the Mechanics Bank is as bad as Hitler.)

  • UCSusie

    You can afford a slick video but not a logo that doesn’t make tens of thousands of people object to it?

  • Mudan

    Horrible. Horrible. Corporate decision making at its worse. It is unattractive. It will be impossible to print on a two color press. And it comes in multiple colors??? Is not the blue and gold of the University one of the key identifying elements? They spent more on the video alone than they should have spent on the logo. All very sad.

  • serkes

    Too early to invoke Godwin’s law … though, alas, I see your point

  • serkes

    I’d call it insipid, but doesn’t rise to even those heights.

    It does reach the level of 18th runner-up in an elance logo competition.


  • Mbfarrel

    Ugly, but insipid. For truly ridiculous logos google “bad logos” then click “images”

  • Whelmed And Gruntled

    Considering how hard Alison Mudditt and Rebekah Darksmith have worked to destroy UC Press, perhaps the logo could be used by them. The old UC Press logo could be kicked into the same shallow grave Muddit and Darksmith tossed the previous publishing program.

  • RFScalf

    Nike it ain’t.
    What’s the goal here? Is UC competing with someone?

  • serkes

    I just realized that might supposed to represent an open book seen from the bottom.

  • All that may be true, but the logo is still a horrible implementation of those intentions. Time for U.C. to cut its losses and do it over.

  • Complaining here is pointless. Email UCOP and let them know that this affects fundraising.

    So far the only email I can find is

    Says a lot, when UC’s PR people have to hide their own contact info….

  • Found another good email address:

    He is “marketing and communications director” for the UC Office of the President.

  • bluedik

    Geech…I really wish I could proclivity is for the underdog…’bright, [not] etecatching and memorable [yes, but in a sadly negative way]
    i might applaud the effort if it came form 2nd graders….and not taint the halls of my school!

  • Berkeley Resident

    Revisioning has nothing to do with destroying unless change, and bringing a publishing venture into the 21st Century, causes one to fear change.

  • Multiverse

    The new logo looks like it should be for UCLA, not UC Berkeley.

  • Howie Mencken

    Of all its sins, this logo’s most grievous is the use of gradients. “Hard graphics” (what we now call vector art) are the gold standard for logo marks. Communicating a complex message fully in solid black and white (or solid colors) while much more difficult, creates the most powerful identities.

  • Gruntled and Whelmed

    If by bringing a publishing venture into the 21st century you mean informational profiteering and wringing every last cent out of California tax payers who are trying to help their children afford hideously overpriced and subpar textbooks, then play on. It isn’t like the entire landscape of academic publishing isn’t utterly ripe for creative disruption, is it? Just ask the music industry. Now roll over and get your belly scratched by Ms. Mudditt and Darksmith you bloody prat.

  • GoBears

    Cut all contributions to UC – they don’t know how to make the best use of the money they have…

  • Friend of an alumni

    It’s just really ugly, an amorphous, vacant design.

  • Oskiwowwow

    Next they should change the sign in the Chancellor’s office from Fiat Lux to Fiat Stupido!