Let There Be Fight: University of California Logo Outrage Continues

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There are lots of smart folks at the University of California who have brought up tons of innovations that have affected pretty much the rest of the world. In the past week, though, the corporate body that oversees the University of California’s campuses has been getting plenty of ill feeling from its nearly 235,000-member student body (and plenty of others) because of one of its latest innovations: a change to its logo.

The logo, created internally by the university’s internal marketing team in collaboration with students, consists of a large U with a C at the bottom with “University of California” written at its right. The old logo had much more of a traditional feel with an open book inside a circle and the school’s motto (“Let There Be Light”) and founding year (1868) prominently displayed. But even an extensive branding toolkit and Vimeo video hasn’t convinced critics to adopt the new look.

The school claims that the old logo isn’t being ditched completely, the Los Angeles Times reports. It will still appear on diplomas and official letterhead. However, the seal, which was introduced way back in 1910, “does not reproduce well for many Internet uses and that it is often confused with variations created by the 10 individual UC campuses.”[more]

That may be so, but the new visual identity system has got some critics reinterpreting the school’s motto as “Let there be fight.”

“To a generation all too familiar with circular, fading loading symbols, this is an attempt to be revolutionary. But it comes off as insensitive,” said Reaz Rahman, a 21-year-old UC Irvine senior who started a Change.org petition against the new logo, the Times reports. “To me, it didn’t symbolize an institution of higher learning. It seemed like a marketing scheme to pull in money rather than represent the university.”

Rahman wasn’t the only one using the Web to express dislike for the new logo, which has been called everything from a “urinal” to a “cheap.” People came down on it on YouTube. A few Facebook pages popped up asking for the new logo to be ditched. People got angry about it on Twitter.

Reddit users, meanwhile, got all bent out of shape about a GIF version of the logo that a wag created to make it look as if it was a logo that was continually loading.

“It cheapened the entire UC System,” Tomo Hirai, a 24-year-old UC Davis graduate who designed the GIF, told the LA Times. “That’s not what you do to 144 years of history.”

Jason Simon, UC’s head of marketing, tried to battle back by posting a comment on the Change.org petition that said, “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,” SFist.com reports.

The office of the president also defended the new “monogram” by posting a statement online that revealed that the logo isn’t so new after all, it’s just that nobody noticed:

In fact, the monogram that is suddenly causing so much talk isn’t anything new. It’s been in wide use for about a year and was developed as part of a larger public outreach strategy to connect Californians with all the ways that UC touches their lives. The Onward California campaign and mobile tour has reached tens of thousands of people with its message. Stops included visits to all 10 campuses. Students, staff and faculty came out to talk about UC’s value to the state and to their own lives. Visitors filled out postcards with heart-felt messages about the value of higher education and adorned themselves with temporary tattoos of the colorful monogram.

Indeed, it has been flying under the radar (and was featured on FastCoDesign last month) until the Change.org petition. Even now, in the midst of finals, the debate rages on. But will the fervor still be there when the holiday break is over?

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