One student posted a comment at The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California at Berkeley, comparing the new logo for the University of California System to the loading icon on YouTube. Another posted: "That was what I was thinking! Then someone had to ruin it for me with the toilet flushing comments, which I now cannot unsee...."
Either way, the commenters (and thousands of others) are giving a failing grade to the new logo, and calling for the university to abandon it. The university has until now used its original seal, dating to 1868, featuring an open book and the words "let there be light." The new seal is theoretically supposed to show a C inside a U.
Tinkering With Tradition
Other colleges and have discovered that new logos and symbols can attract considerable attention -- and not necessarily the kind the college wanted. Consider:
More than 30,000 people have signed a petition against the new logo. "The newly designed monogram of the University of California, while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal," the petition says. Comments posted on the petition website call the new logo "corporate," "cheap" and "the logo of something found in the toddler section of Toys R' Us." Many question why the university even needed a new logo, saying that the original seal reflects the university's values.
Said one comment: "Why would UC need to be rebranded? UC remains and will be the best public institution in the world. Also, UC is an educational institution, not a start-up company."
The university is defending the new logo in part by saying that the seal isn't going away. Jason Simon, director of marketing and communications for the university system, posted a note on the petition website in which he said that the seal will still be the official seal, and will be used on many documents. But he said that it's "not an either/or situation — we are not trading in the seal for the new mark."
And Simon said that the new logo helps in ways that the seal does not. "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," he wrote. "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."
The University of California has also uploaded a video to YouTube explaining the ideas behind the entire branding effort.
The university system posted to YouTube as well comments about how the original seal is not being retired and also said -- in response to questions about the cost of producing the new logo -- that it was done internally. But the video in defense of the logo doesn't appear to be winning over the critics.
Wrote one alum on YouTube: "The video is an insult to the legacy of UC. You literally brush aside a logo that is more than 140 years old, and which happens to appear on both of my degrees. Both of my sisters and my mother also are UC alumni. I understand that this is intended not to replace the seal, but this is just BAD design, and utterly unworthy of the university and its legacy. I hope that you will listen to the thousands of alumni who are expressing their dissatisfaction and disappointment with the logo: lose it!"