There seems to be a tension in the university branding world, between the wish to look cool and desirable to new students, luring them in with the promise of a great experience whilst studying and the need to be seen as a serious learning institution.
And the two goals seem to flip almost instantly for students some time after freshers week when any logo with a casual air suddenly becomes utterly unprofessional for undergraduates with one eye on the future world of work.They don’t want their degrees to be adorned with fun time logos but with smart, meaningful crests.
Back in April, Loughborough University (a ‘modern’ British university given charter in the 1960’s) rolled out an updated logo, a rounded sans serif “LU” sat on a pink round edged octagon.
So the marketing boffins at the university put their heads together and had another go.
The result is a reengineered design based on the universities Coat-of-Arms. The crest was stripped back to just the shield potion, gone is the fetching peafowl presenting a radiant key sat atop. Remaining are 3 tricky to identify elements in white on a purple field split by a white cross.
The first item top left is Offa of Mercia’s cross (who’s land has historical links to the uni), in the centre we have some sort of Aladdin’s lamp (our Uni is magic?) and lastly a staff head or other ornate element, I’m not sure and can’t seem to source any good detail.
The response seems generally positive, which from the low point of the pink octagon is no surprise, but there’s a poll on the students union website that still heavily favours the 1996 shield, which featured a pink square in the top right and formed a subtle L out of the white space.
Past and present students then struggle with university logo updates almost without fail.
The text feels more modern than the 1996 serif (though DIN was originally designed in the 1930’s) and more professional than the kids toy rounded sans or this years earlier effort.
For my eye the latest update hits the “we want to look like a university with history” nail on the head pretty well, though I’m no fan of the purple, which at that shade, with the white cross reminds me of something quite Scottish, and I’m sure the elements have some good reasoning, but I can’t help feel that a magic lamp sat right at the centre looks a little flippant.
But it feels a bit conservative, a bit “me too”. There’s no edge, nothing that says we’re creating the movers and shakers of the future. University logos seem restricted by the fact that they need to adorn posh certificates, holding them back from pushing the boundaries their marketing departments might want them to.
That position that leaves one easy answer, get the clout and history from the coat of arms and give it a modern update. This is the solution that Loughborough University have settled on and I’m sure it will function admirably.