University of California Unveils New Logo [Opinion]

11 person team and three years worth of work produced the much hated University of California logo.

I’m not gonna lie, the new University of California logo looks a lot like a used condom with a lemon twist. But that’s just me. To others, “it looks like a Sweedish flag being flushed down the toilet” accoding to Aaron Bady(@zunguzungu) on Twitter. To James Rainey(@LaTimesRainey) a “Zygote”.  And this sort of hate seems to be universal. In fact, as I write this a petition on to stop the official use of the logo has already reached 48,983 supporters.

It’s safe to say the boat has definitely been rocked for the team of 11 who put together this logo, for what has said to be a duration of 3 years.  So is this a case of too much surfer, fun in the sun loving branding on academic institutions gone wrong?  As a UCSD graduate myself, I wouldn’t  be too crazy about a Tyco looking assortment of colors and shapes on my degree. On the other hand, UC schools are certainly an exception to the pompous old school flavor of the universities of the east. And the emphasis on modernity, technology, and scientific progress is engrained in every aspect of UCSD life. You can see it in the industrial architecture, the disproportionate amount of Nobel Prize winning scientists, and even the suicidal looks on the over-studied, and under slept students at Geisel library.

The reality is the logo could have taken a million other forms, with no certainty of universal acceptance. Change can be a good thing, but isn’t always embraced with warmth.

In the past the popular voice hasn’t always been right. For example, after the Eiffel tower was built it was ruthlessly criticized. The artist Alexandre Dumas even signed an angry letter that affirmed,We protest with all our strength the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is without doubt the dishonour of Paris.”

Or could this be the result of bad market research, and a case of committee projects gone wrong? It’s dangerous territory with committee projects, which in the past have churned out countless atrocities such as Tim Allen’s “The Shaggy Dog” or some variation of talking, snarky, cheesy one-liner fueled pets. Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 comes to mind when I think of these.  Often times people can lose sight of what’s truly important to the mission of a project, egos get in the way, and people are afraid of offending one another and taking a stance against a putrid idea- especially when that idea belongs to a superior. All of these and more can poison the integrity of the final product.

Who’s right? The “Vox populi” or is this design group a special core of individuals who are willing to endure sheepish backlash for the sake of what’s right?  Luckily, it doesn’t matter. We are dealing with a logo- they come and go, but an organization’s great work is what’s memorable. And if the UC wants to make a modern change with their audience and attract new customers (ahem *Cough, Cough*, I mean students) they should start working from the inside out. No amount of branding brilliance can be a substitute for great work and a human element that gives two shits about what students have to say or need. If the UC had all of that maybe, just maybe, we’d proudly accept a Zygote shaped logo.


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