Friday, August 22, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

New, simpler UC logo draws derision

This image shows the old logo of the University of California, left, with the new logo. The university's original logo — with its open book, 1868 date stamp and "Let there be light" script — will still be in circulation, appearing on president's letters and official university documents. But marketing materials and websites will feature a radically simple and more contemporary symbol: a little "C" nesting inside a shield-shaped "U." AP photo

By
From page A1 | December 12, 2012 |

By Carolyn Jones

Since 1868, the University of California’s motto has been “Let there be light.” Now the university’s new logo is bringing plenty of heat.

Critics have compared the recently unveiled logo — a yellow, half-realized “C” inside a stylized blue “U” — to a napkin doodle, a bidet or a banana label. One online commenter said it “looks like it’s still loading.”

The logo would be appropriate for “a shady online startup, not one of the top universities in the world,” said Jacob Horn, a medical recruiter in Arcata and a Berkeley native who is among 40,000 signers of an online petition asking UC to scrap the new logo. “It devalues the university totally. If they had done even a little research, they would have found that people don’t like it.”

And like it, they don’t. From the fields of Davis to the beaches of San Diego, students, alumni and staff have resoundingly voiced their disapproval.

The gist of the complaints is that the logo resembles a corporate brand and is a symbol of the university’s continued trek toward privatization.

“It is everything our school is against. Might as well have slapped a McDonald’s ‘M’ on top of it,” Sheila Lam of Berkeley wrote on the petition. “It looks so corporate, and it looks cheap.”

But the logo is not pervasive, and if it looks like a corporate brand, well, that’s the reality in which the university finds itself, said Steve Montiel, media relations director for the university president’s office.

“We’ve seen $900 million in cuts over the last four years,” Montiel said. “We need to reach out directly to the people of California with a simple, creative, flexible logo that symbolizes the university as a whole and how it affects their lives.”

For more than a century, diplomas, acceptance letters and a multitude of other official UC paraphernalia have been emblazoned with the traditional “Let there be light” seal, a circle around an open book illuminated by a shining star.

That logo isn’t going anywhere. It will still adorn diplomas and other UC documents, Montiel said.

But about a year ago, the university’s communications office found the seal had too many details and small print to reproduce well on small screens, such as the smartphones and tablets favored by prospective students.

The university also saw a need for a logo that would appeal to those who are not necessarily affiliated with UC as a way to drum up support for the entire system — not just its 10 campuses, but also its medical centers, agriculture projects, laboratories and research centers.

The new logo, created in-house at minimal public expense, Montiel said, was vetted among prospective students, parents, alumni and some of the chancellors, and is the result of much effort and consideration, he said.

About six months ago, the new logo started appearing on the UC admissions website. No one complained. But then a news story brought it to the public’s attention last week, and the boom landed.

“There’s been a brushfire of opinion,” Montiel said. “It’s not surprising that people feel passionately about this. We are paying attention to the feedback. We are listening.”

But UC has no plans to drop the new logo, he said.

The logo has several versions, but the one most widely circulated shows a blue U shape, topped with a silhouette of an open book. At the bottom of the U is a yellow block C fading into the blue.

Mark Fox, a graphic design professor at California College of the Arts who designed that school’s logo and has done work for UC in the past, panned the new effort.

“The visual language is generic, commercial and utterly forgettable,” he said. “It is a complete mismatch for the university’s history and reputation. (It) has no visual or conceptual gravitas.”

A good logo should be distinct and memorable, create positive associations, reflect well on the company and work easily and inexpensively in all media, he said.

“The new UC logo,” Fox said, “fails in most of the above criteria.”

— Reach Carolyn Jones at carolynjones@sfchronicle.com

Comments

comments

San Francisco Chronicle

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    No easy task: History buffs still trying to save building

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    DHS musicians back from summer in Italy

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    City to overhaul its sprinkler heads, other water-wasters

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Davis indecent-exposure suspect pleads no contest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Not-guilty plea entered in Woodland homicide case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Russian aid convoy reaches war-torn Luhansk

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Yolo County golf tournament enters fourth year

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Putah Creek Council appoints new executive director

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

    Communitywide ice bucket challenge on Sunday

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

     
    Parents’ Night Out features Vacation Bible School

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Afternoon tours of city wetlands resume Sept. 6

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Prunes take center stage at last agri-tour of the summer

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    In need of food? Apply for CalFresh

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Can you give them a home?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
    Saylor will meet constituents at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Event will unveil mural celebrating food justice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit: Final Blast show returns for second year

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A5

    Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Writing couple stops at Davis bookstore

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Record drought saps California honey production

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    World travelers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Seniors set to stroll through Arboretum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Weightlifters causing a racket

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    No support for militarization

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    A better use for this vehicle

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Police are our friends, right?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Wage plan has a big flaw

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Bridging the digital divide with computational thinking

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

    .

    Sports

    Watney and McIlroy struggle at start of The Barclays

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B1

     
    Light-hitting Cats fall

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Giants win nightcap in Chicago

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Watts likes what he’s seen in keen Aggie DB competition

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Big West soccer coaches have high hopes for UCD men

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

     
    Davis Chinese Film Festival to kick off with 1994 favorite

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Rock Band campers perform at E Street Plaza

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Natsoulas to host mural conference

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    Yolo Mambo to play free show

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    ‘If I Stay’: Existential angst

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    Car Care: Teenagers not driving safe cars, study shows

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Car Care: Feeling the summer heat? Your car battery is too

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Three-wheeled Elio gets closer to going on sale

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, August 22, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6