20 Comments on “What’s in a logo?”

  1. Fred Says:

    Logos are important but as a communication tool they should also reflect the university’s “personality”. Most ancient universities do not change their logos too much (or at all) because they probaly see it as an expression of their established tradition. So the right logo is important…


    • As for ancient universities, you might think that, but in fact they have been busily changing their logos as much as anyone else over the past ten years. Whether they have done it well is another matter.

      • Fred Says:

        Well from my comment one could argue that at least they didn’t change it much🙂 Basically my perception is that some old universities avoid modern logos and some “new” universities have chosen logos that look “old”…

  2. Jilly Says:

    The very first time I saw the current DCU logo, I remember that the words ‘downward spiral’ popped into my head… In the main, I’m inclined not to place too much importance on such things, so I think that all the logos shown above are fine (apart from Goettingen, which as you say is illegible to the outsider). But I would agree with Fred that traditional ‘crest’ logos are probably of considerable use in communicating the established nature of older universities…

  3. Vincent Says:

    They seem to be like the canceling stamp on a letter. I think your method, the simple statement of commission is far better than the book sized set of instructions.
    Looking at NUI,G, you’d think it was Oxford. While you’d have to wonder if anybody had come across colour theory.
    Toulouse works very well in that company.

  4. jfryar Says:

    If I was a student wanting to do a degree in computer science, went on the webpage of a computer science department, and found half the links to be missing, I’d not be impressed. I’d think ‘what kind of computing department can’t even get the webpage right’.

    Logos, in my opinion, fall into the same sort of analysis. If a young university, selling itself as ‘progressive’ and ‘modern’, had a crusty old logo it would form an instant impression. If, for example, the institution also offered degrees in media studies or marketing you’d be suspicious of a logo that wasn’t all funky and modern. Not that I’m saying people necessarily perform a conscious analysis but I certainly believe logos are important and can create a ‘corporate identity’ within the first few seconds of someone looking at them.

  5. Anna Notaro Says:

    Logos are bit like a nation’s flag, they express a distinctive identity and help to establish the character. It’s interesting how some logos might cost millions and be ineffective and some cheap and successful. A case in point is the Nike logo (only $35!) produced by a design student in 1971. I guess there is a lesson there for universities, to make the most of their in-house resources!


  6. What are your thoughts on the current Robert Gordon University Logo, Ferdinand? Do you think it helps communicate the University’s strategy of being ‘The Professional University’? I must say I like the DCU logo as a design; but would not have known what the letters stood for (until now). I would be interested in seeing how the DCU corporate Identity as a whole is applied.

  7. Al Says:

    Quite Saturnine…

  8. Michael Scott Says:

    If logos matter that much, then surely style has finally triumphed over substance?

    • anna notaro Says:

      Michael, that might be the case sometimes, however the conclusion you draw it’s a bit of a simplification. Although logo means ‘word’ from the Greek logos often combine an icon (image) and text (quite an effective combination), hence they are not *just* a style image, besides I would dispute that style in itself can be so easily dismissed…

  9. Ernie Ball Says:

    I think the DCU logo looks like one for a telecommunications company and does not at all suggest a university. Look at this page and scroll through the pages of telecoms logos. Notice how many have three radiating stripes on them? It’s a stylistic shorthand for wireless communication.

    But it’s OK, it’s not the worst university logo in Ireland. That honour has to go to the utterly inane and very ugly logo for “University College Dublin Dublin”:

    • Jeffrey Says:

      The DCU logo looks like an energy company design from the side of an American sports stadium.


      • … which shows that the logo has done what it was supposed to do: make DCU stand out in a grouping of university logos. Over the past 10 years we have had a lot of feedback on that, pretty much all positive…

        • anna notaro Says:

          Ferdinand, Jeffrey’s point was on an aesthetic issue though (the resemblance to an energy company design) you might just as well received a positive feedback and ‘stand out’ by adopting another logo, with a different aesthetic/design, you must have chosen that design exactly for the corporate associations that it would induce…


          • Sure, I understand that but don’t agree with it. There isn’t *a* style that is corporate, and another that is (non-crest) university. If I were to assemble a page of corporate logos, you would see a vast array of completely different approaches. It’s nonsense to say this one looks like an energy company, because if I were to assemble all the energy company logos (and I’ve just done a quick trawl, there is no similarity at all between any of them, and none looks remotely like the DCU logo. In fact, there is absolutely no such thing as a corporate ‘model’. What many university logos (and some corporate ones) have in common is that they are structurally complex, with a lot of detail. I wanted to avoid that, as it’s not easily recognisable.

            My intention for the DCU logo was that it would be very simple in its structure and look dynamic. I wanted it to be immediately recognisable, even from a distance.

        • Ernie Ball Says:

          If it stands out as betokening something other than a university, how is that what it was supposed to do? I mean, if you really want to stand out, here’s another style of logo you could have used. Put in the appropriate letters and, voilà!

          (apparently, wordpress won’t let me put images in the comments)

  10. Al Says:

    Isn’t there the danger of it becoming a three card trick? where semi legitimate symbology and heraldry distract from deeper questions of work, application and effectiveness?

  11. Jane Says:

    I might add, as a former design consultant who’s worked on many a logo– everyone has an opinion about a logo. In truth, they’re not that important. The brand *behind* the logo (and by brand I mean organisational identity and reputation, as internally understood and externally communicated)– is far more important and influential. The logo should serve as some kind of ‘trigger’ for the brand itself, but truly the logo itself is of secondary importance.

    Not that you can convince clients of this, of course– since the logo is the tangible, far too much time is often spent discussing the pros/cons of the visual mark, when most good designers know it’s never the solution to an identity problem.

    p.s. Ferdinand, I don’t know the details of the process you used, but I do hope your design brief did not request companies to submit logos for no compensation in a kind of a beauty contest (a process rightfully loathed by all designers, and a poor way to achieve a good result).


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