Monday, December 10, 2012

Misadventures in Marketing

Old logo on left, new logo on right. A worm inside a tulip?
The University of California system has just unveiled its new logo, replacing its old dignified institutional seal of an open book with the legend "Let there be light" with a more updated graphic design. This video illuminates the thinking behind it:

University of California Identity from University of California on Vimeo.

It speaks to me. What it says is - "Forget books, just buy our tote bags, coffee mugs and swag!"

UC's new logo has had mixed reception, but one of the benefits of working in an academic environment is that there are plenty of smart, creative people to weigh in on seminal changes like this. Lots of people have been playing with it. There are internet animated gifs depicting flushing toilets full of money, perpetually churning "page loading" symbols, and hilarious descriptions like "a banana in a cup of water," to greet the logo's debut.

Do you remember New Coke, and how successful a brand change that was? Any bets on how long this one lasts?

For an alternate take on updated logos, here's another one, and I'm curious whether you find this one more successful than the new UC logo, or less.

This is the old seal for the City of Santa Monica. it depicts the beach, the Santa Monica Mountain ranges, and a setting sun. This image is still emblazoned behind the Council Chambers at City Hall, but.....

This is the current logo that appears on the City's letterhead, websites, advertising and even street signs. It depicts the same themes, in a spare and simplified graphic image. I don't know what year this image debuted, but it's been at least ten years.

I've never heard of it being controversial, but - is that just because it's been sanctioned by time?  Did people oppose it when it was introduced? Or did this graphic design update succeed?

What do you think? Does the new UC logo just need time for acceptance? Or is it just not a good design? 


smalltownme said...

To put it bluntly, the new UC logo sucks. It's so generic it has no meaning. I shouldn't have to watch a video to understand it, so I won't. (I'm a UCSB grad myself, and my dad has multiple degrees from Berkeley.) It took me a number of viewings before I realized that blue thing was supposed to be the U.

I don't like the Santa Monica redesign very much either, but at least I can recognize sun, land and sea. The UC just makes me think upchuck.

This was bothering me all day. Thanks for letting me vent!!!

cactus petunia said...

These are simply awful! I can't believe this is what they came up with. But then, I'm pretty sure it was designed by committee, and nothing good ever comes of that!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Is that the new UC logo, or is that tulip really excited to be budding?
Um, yeah. A waste of dollars.

The old Santa Monica logo was infinitely better than the new one (it could almost be Spokane, with the waterline being the river) but I suppose someone somewhere grew unhappy with the mermaid.

Constant change is an industry that probably shouldn't be fed anymore than we have to feed it. I remember when Washington State changed its tourism logo to "Say WA" ... say Wha- WHAT?!?

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

I love marketing and branding. That being said, this new logo is dreadful. And I'm with Smalltown...if you need a video, which by the way doesn't really feature your new logo all that much, then you need to go back to the drawing board. Literally, a drawing board...not a computer. Ugh.