Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Logo-Gate: Much Ado Over University of California’s Emblem Change

I’m baaaaaaaaack! After a long vacation from blog writing (I was touring the Pacific Rim with various Victoria’s Secret models), CONTROVERSY is what brings me back to the blogging game.

And it rings louder than a college student’s head the morning after a weekend bender.

I’m talking about: LOGO-GATE!

The University of California made a change to their school emblem, and it caused a huge backlash, primarily on social media websites. Petitions, Facebook pages, and YouTube videos went wild, demanding the new logo be ditched.

New Cali Logo

This brings up an issue I never knew existed: People ACTUALLY CARE about their school’s logo.  At least they do EVENTUALLY. The backlash just began last week regardless of the fact the logo was changed almost a year ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame people for not noticing. I went to Northern Illinois University for about 6 years (I even took a few classes), and I couldn’t tell you their logo if my life depended on it.

The fact of the matter is this: Things change. There ARE people out there who liked the new logo. And they realized that the old seal would still appear on their diplomas and their Donation Request letters. However, as is too often the case in this world, the people who complain louder get their way.

The University yielded, changing its logo back to please this angry (albeit months late) mob. To that I say:  “BOOOOOOOOOOOOO-urns!

This is extremely short-sighted on the University’s part. You made the change because you wanted to move into the future. It’s still coming, changes are still happening. Five years from now, you’ll want to change it again, and the whole process will start over.

If you’d gone forward with it, this would ALL be over by now. People have extremely short attention spans, and will quickly forget how much they despise the change (See: Legends and Leaders conferences in the Big 10).

Besides, if social media had been around back then, I’m sure there would have been just as much outrage when U of C ditched their ORIGINAL LOGO in 1868:

Gold Rush

[Writer’s Note:  Thank you Richard Nixon.  Without his shameless spying at the Watergate Complex, lazy reporters and bloggers would have to come up with their own title for a controversy, instead of just adding “gate” to a related word.  #spygate, #bountygate, #nipplegate, #monicagate, #etc…]

What do you think of the University of California’s logo? Do you agree with the retroactive mob about the new design? Do you think people would have forgotten how much they hated the logo change if UC had kept it?

Expand Your Brand!

 Image credit to ell brown, University of California, and Alex Brodsky’s brain.


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  1. Eric

    Probably just a matter of poor composition. If they spent more than five minutes on the new logo, it wouldn’t look like the sloppily-composed cluster#$%^ it turned out to be. Mixing a title made from solely capital letters, juxtaposed against lowercase??!? You’re a friggin’ university, U of C. The least you can do is properly capitalize your writing. Honestly, if you stick to a monochromatic logo, balance the white space accordingly, and go with the whole “less is more” approach (HENCE USING A LOGO TO BEGIN WITH), it’s not so hard. Oh, California. I shouldn’t be surpised. After what they’ve done with pizza, this shouldn’t come as too much a shocker.

  2. Jeff Porretto

    #1) A+ for working boo-urns into a post
    #2) I DO think the new logo is crazy bad. If it had just not been terrible I don’t think there would have been quite as much uproar.
    #3) There will always be uproar because GAHH CHAAANGE!! REVOLT!!! 🙂

  3. Mikey

    Well, that’s really to be expected, though. It seems that people are always resistant to change and the new logo would’ve probably gotten backlash no matter what it was. It doesn’t help that the new logo really DOESN’T look good. It is kinda funny that it took so long for people to notice and get offended. Show’s how important the logo is in general, if people just didn’t pay enough attention to let the change go by without a word. Great blog post and welcome back!

  4. Alex Brodsky

    Eric – To be fair, California was ruining pizzas LONG BEFORE they were ruining school logos. If nothing else, make the “U” look like a freakin’ U. However, the new one highlights the school slogan “Let There Be Light” far more than the original. I would overlook that each and every time cause there’s simply too much going on.

    Jeff – A) Thank you, I was proud of it. And props to Jill for actually linking to that clip.
    B) I DO think there would have been just as much uproar because…
    C) Viva la revolucion!

    Don’t you think that even a well designed logo would have caused a backlash? I mean, all art is subjective. So if it was a different style, a different group would have hated it and complained.

    Mikey – Thanks! And along with what you said about the timing, I propose:
    NATIONAL WHINING TIME LIMIT: If something has happened more than 3 months ago and you didn’t notice in that time period, you have lost all right to complain about something.

  5. Rachel

    “The backlash just began last week regardless of the fact the logo was changed almost a year ago.”
    This amuses me to no end. If people are going to complain, they can at least complain in a timely manner!

    Frankly I don’t think the logo looks that terrible — it’s not amazing, but if this weren’t a topic of debate I wouldn’t give it a second thought — but you are absolutely right about people’s response to change. There’s always going to be someone (loudly) complaining about change, whether it’s good or not. The university should have just stuck to their guns! Ah well.

    But hey, all is not in vain! At least it led to the creation of your “original” logo, haha. Best tag line ever. 🙂

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