Loughborough University halts new identity rollout following protests

Loughborough University has taken note of a petition yielding more than 12,000 signatures and “paused” the rollout of its new logo.

LU-logo-octagon

Loughborough University has temporarily halted the rollout of its new identity as a result of a petition set up to revoke the logo.

The new logo was developed with the aim of bringing the branding and visual collateral of the university – which has not been changed since 1996 – up-to-date, says Emma Leech, director of marketing and advancement at the institution.

The new octagonal logo, designed collectively by an in-house team and Campbell Rowley, was set to replace the shield design implemented in 1996.

From left to right: the university's crest of arms (1909), shield logo (1996) and new octagon logo (2015).
From left to right: the university’s crest of arms (1909), shield logo (1996) and new octagon logo (2015).

It was to be used in conjunction with the university’s coat of arms, developed in 1909 when the institution was founded.

But a petition set up by Loughborough University alumnus Scott Lawrence, which has now surpassed 12,000 signatures, has called for the institution to keep the old logo.

It says: “This is not a petition against change, it’s a petition against bad brand design.

“The purple and pink shield emblem has become iconic in attaching Loughborough University’s ideas of prestige, heritage and respect. The new brand identity instantaneously loses all of these values.

“The new logo completely devalues all sense of quality as a trusted academic institution.”

Comments on the petition page state that the new logo “undermines the university’s credibility”, that it takes simplicity “too far” and that it does not represent Loughborough as a “prominent academic institution”.

Open presentations showcasing the new identity and calling for feedback were provided for student union executives, the alumni advisory board and staff prior to the roll-out, and yielded “really positive” reactions, Leech says.

The proposed plan was to use the octagonal logo across digital platforms and social media, and to continue using the original coat of arms for ceremonial purposes, such as on degree certificates.

“The new logo is simple, clear and flexible,” says a university spokesperson. “It can be customised to reflect the many facets of the university. We will also use the coat of arms, but it can’t be customised and the complexity of the ornate elements simply don’t work well with many digital applications.”

The new logo represents the octagonal shape of a fountain installed outside the university building in 1938. It aims to be used as a base shape behind which a range of imagery can be placed.

 

“The shape of the device allows us to have recognition and consistency,” Leech says. “The octagon is designed to be an agile device that can be exploited in digital and print, and has limitless possibilities to be dynamic.”

The logo is part of a wider change for the university, which will be launching a new campus in London this year, Leech adds. “The debate has become about a small, graphic element of a much broader shift and change in strategy,” she says.

“We need something that will work across campuses and allow our print and digital collateral to reflect prestige, quality, modernity and innovation.”

The rollout of the new identity has now been paused “to take stock and listen to concerns,” according to Leech. The university will be holding open meetings and provides a contact email address, inviting students to provide input into the development process of the identity.

Leech says: “There is clearly strength of feeling around the change in the visual identity. It is important that this is acknowledged.

“There are, in my view, very strong reasons for the change and we have clearly failed to communicate some of these. Equally, I am happy to admit that there may be concerns we haven’t fully anticipated and changes may be necessary.

“I hope to be able to harness the engagement that this issue has generated to positively benefit the university we are all committed to.”

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Comments
  • Matt Temple April 29, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Surely an 8 sided polygon is an octagon rather than a hexagon…?

    Pedantry aside, the main logo looks bland and uninspiring.

    • Angus Montgomery April 29, 2015 at 10:27 am

      Oops – updated to account for the extra sides…

  • Lindsey Orr April 29, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Interesting. Though I’ve just checked the university webpage and the new logo is being used?

  • Neal Evans April 29, 2015 at 10:37 am

    ” It aims to be used as a base shape behind which a range of imagery can be placed.”
    Surely if these additional elements are place behind the octogon, they wouldn’t be seen…

    • Stephen Ranford May 5, 2015 at 9:23 am

      Did you even watch the video?! Transparency, anyone?

  • Marlene Greenhalgh April 29, 2015 at 10:45 am

    LUni – says it all?

  • Paul Johnson April 29, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Similar project in the US a couple of years ago provides some insight here…
    http://designobserver.com/feature/graphic-design-criticism-as-a-spectator-sport/37607

  • Liam O'Neill April 29, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Its current, but I don’t think it reflects the cutting edge of what Loughborough do. I like the video but I still think that the logo needs to work really hard and be effective on its own. I know a brand is ‘more than the logo…’ but it still needs to kick ass and sum up what that organisation does in a split second. This mark for me looks a bit too soft and little juvenile.

  • Julia Cassim April 29, 2015 at 11:42 am

    It’s a lousy design which bears no relevance to Loughborough’s strengths and is more akin to a rollout for jelly beans.

    • Hannah Wardle April 30, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      Nail on the head.

  • D Conran April 29, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    You can make it out of liquid, throw paint at it or set it on fire – still doesn’t mean it works now does it?

    The ‘LU’ Logo serves no purpose. It could easily be applied to any product or service from a school to a ‘lu cleaner’ and have the same meaningless connection.

  • Sherren McCabe-Finlayson April 29, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    People now seem to justify poor visual acumen and facile ideas by hiding behind masses of media-speak. Whatever happened to good design, based on ability and plain speech?

  • Simon Dry April 29, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I worked on the design of new branding for the University of Southampton and we faced a very hostile reception from around 500 students when doing the presentation (one of whom even presented me with a derogatory cartoon called ‘Logo Man’). I therefore understand that these kinds of transitions can be emotive and the reasons for doing it in the first place called into question.

    However, after some consideration, I agree that this one should be flushed down the LU.

  • Vilmar Pellisson April 29, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    The uproar against the new identity is quite justifiable in my opinion. Change is necessary but I agree with Scott Lawrence’s point when he says the new design completely ignores the heritage of the institution and devalues everything that comes attached to it in the end. That could be a logo for an app, and a somewhat unimaginative one. If they are trying to capture the zeit-geist and inject a breathe of fresh air into the brand then, I’m sorry to say, they will have to do it all over again in a short while for that is already becoming too dated a language. Definitely not time-proof as it should be.

  • ruth waddingham April 29, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    I am from Loughborough and a graphic designer now in USA, I think D Conran expressed it the best. Awful awful, no idea, poor executed and totally de-values the institution. Why? Can Emma Leech & Campbell Rowley explain!

  • Mark North April 30, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Having worked on several university brand designs, including Southampton, one thing I have noticed is that students do love a bit of heraldry.

  • John Frieda April 30, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I can’t picture Cambridge or Harvard going down this route anytime soon.

  • Alex Brooks May 1, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    In-house design team to animation student: Can you take this boring logo we’ve designed and add some funky SFX to jazz it up a bit?
    Animation student: yeah cool, I like the film Terminator 2 so maybe I could animate it like that then maybe do a version with fire n’ stuff?
    In-house design team: Sounds great – this will really blow people away and sell the idea.

  • John Scarratt May 1, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    In my opinion the softness of the typeface and mark, though ‘friendly’, suggest a lack of seriousness. This should be a concern for an institution handing out qualifications.

  • Richard Cowley May 1, 2015 at 4:29 pm

    It will date very quickly and to me looks like my local colleges logo. No sense of establishment, innovation and certainly devalues Loughborough as a quality and trusted academic institution. This is another example of a trendy agency copying what’s current and forgetting to produce something with actual substance and sensible judgement. It’s a shame this wasn’t put out to pitch for past students working in the industry today.

  • Ian Wilkinson May 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

    “We need something that will work across campuses and allow our print and digital collateral to reflect prestige, quality, modernity and innovation”

    This is indicative of the management speak drivel sadly becoming so ingrained in organisations. Spouted by people without any design background or knowledge. Usually to be found wearing suits and using words like ‘agile’. The bleating justification in defence of this pointless exercise is just laughable.

  • James Cope May 5, 2015 at 10:49 am

    aside from the logo.. ‘ Inspiring winners since 1909’
    If someone is considered a ‘winner’ they are already inspired, surely you should inspire the losers to become winners?

    ‘Inspiring losers since 1909’ seems rather fitting with the new logo..

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