Pentagram rebrands University of the Arts London

University of the Arts London has revealed its new identity, designed by Dominic Lippa from Pentagram.

Dominic Lippa of Pentagram's identity for University of the Arts London
Dominic Lippa of Pentagram’s identity for University of the Arts London

The new black and white typographic identity uses lower-case Helvetica and a large colon to seperate the UAL acronym from the indivudual UAL college name. The individual university brands under the UAL umbrella will remain the same.

The new identity replaces the current mark, which was created in 2004 by a team of students working with Lloyd Northover. UAL chairman Sir John Tusa told Design Week this identity was ‘rubbish, as it was done by committee’.

Pentagram was appointed to to the project following initial strategy work by Moving Brands, which had been tasked with defining an identity for the institute.

Lippa says, ‘The brief was not to create an identity that would dictatorially implemented and that all colleges would have to toe the line. They share services, of course, but they also compete with each other so it needed an identity that would impose itself on all the colleges but still give them a degree of autonomy.

‘It had to have a degree of neutrality for consistency but the materials coming out of each university would still have their own look and feel.’

Lippa adds, ‘It became clear that the issues [UAL] was facing with the existing identity was that it was very weak – in a comparative study with the other universities it disappears and on the whole was felt to be not liked.

‘University of the Arts London is a mouthful at the best of times, so all agreed that abbreviating it to UAL was a strong identity.

‘When I met [UAL] I was talking about the stars as the students and teachers and the people that work there. We didn’t wasn’t to create an identity that competes with that.

‘It needed something that was simple, bold and effective and that would have longevity. We explored the colours for the logo but kept going back to black and white – we had to give the university a colour that worked.’

You can see more images of the new UAL branding over at Creative Review.

Hide Comments (13)Show Comments (13)
  • Chris Bruty November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    and UAL were happy to pay for that yeh?. Anyone in the land with a computer and a copy of Helvetica could have thrown that together in 5 minutes. … but because it was done at Pentagram we’ll all be standing round stroking our chins muttering truisms and mock praise… what a joke.

  • Pete November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    @chris. Yeah, most people have a cut of Helvetia, but are they confident enough to use it properly. There’s probably a much bigger story here. UAL now have a single colour brand, it could save thousands over the years in print costs alone. Being able to stay on brand even from a BW laser printer is a great idea. I believe the BBC did something similar when they dropped the coloured bars under their logo. For me it’s a really clever approach and shouldn’t be slagged off in such a rush.

  • James November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a designer and graduate of UAL I struggle to understand how they can accept this garbage as their new identity. What happened to the visual metaphor that linked the colleges? This really makes me lose pride in the university I attended..

  • Ann-Marie Smyth November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I have to agree with the previous comment. There is nothing inspiring or creative about this logo and it is produced for an institution dealing specifically with these concepts. I don’t see how this logo is going to make UAL “likeable”. Must try harder!

  • James November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The previous identity had b/w variations for use when required so I cannot believe that Pentagram started the brief with the cost of printing in mind! I think it’s more about being invisible but present when it sits on top of student work.

    That being said I still think it’s a bit meh.

  • ross November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The only reason this will work, is by allowing imagery; the student work, art, design, photography – to take precedence over the logo. That’s not a bad thing. But to call the ‘old’ logo weak is unfair, considering the development and success of [ual] prior to this cliché. It’s not clever. But then as someone who looks forward to the nice prospectuses with nice photographs, I don’t really care about this type positioned far left on the front.

  • Clare Whiting November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It’s soulless, a bit like ual…

  • Katie November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I’m just disappointed that for an arts university they played it so safe. I like Helvetia as a typeface, but when one of the top agencies is designing a new identity for an arts university you’d expect something more original than that, especially for over £40,000. A different typeface would have helped, or at least an attempt to do something more exciting with it other than insert a colon. Habitat’s brand logo has been going for several decades, but it just works because the typeface is so timeless and elegant, and more to the point it isn’t an overused typeface. Helvetica might be versatile, clean and perfectly formed, but using it doesn’t automatically make something a good logo, and it’s so easy to replicate, they blatantly just typed it out, fiddled with the letter spacing and voila! Gap’s attempt to update its look doing the same thing and consequential uproar that followed proves Helvetica is not always the answer.

  • chloe November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    “degree of neutrality”. try “degree of milquetoast” or “degree of generic”.

    this is especially lame considering the high level of talent coming out of their combined institutions.

  • Scott November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    It does the job, and very well, timeless, neuetral and ticks all the boxes, though I’m not sure its really worth talking about. next…

  • UAL graduate November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I am deeply dissapointed in this outcome. Do not take me wrong it is a simple well aligned logo, but my deep dissapointment comes out of the principal that one of the biggest and most prestigeous art/design establishment would not find a 1 student that can do their Uni proud by designing a logo. This should have been one inspiring project for students!

  • Royann Dean November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I think the rebrand is ok, not great, just ok.
    I find it funny that UAL would pay big bucks to Pentagram when they have MA students and graduates who can do a great job. And this money could have really gone to upgrade facilities @ some schools like LCC, which has an older section that seems unchanged from the 80’s and it was probably crappy even then.
    As a recent graduate of LCC, I hope this rebrand goes beyond the surface because my experience with LCC showed it to be really disorganised. It would be completely UNACCEPTABLE at even mediocre US institutions.

  • Rowan November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a UAL student I find this a logo an underwhelming disappointment.

    The fact that a non-student body in the form of Pentagram has produced it represents a lack of faith in the very disciplines UAL is supposed to abide by.

    Firstly, to disregard the previous star design as ‘weak’ is poor judgement. It was designed by promising students, and represented creative unity, as well as a desire to push artistic boundaries.

    This logo yawns unoriginality, wheezing lifelessly into an already suffering faculty. As a budding designer I would’ve been head over heels to have been invited to help create the image for the educational institute that I am a member of, it shows a lack of faith in the ability of the students on UAL’s behalf.

    I’m only thankful the university isn’t as commonly renowned as previous corporate re-brand flops like Gap and Ikea – so that we comfortably avoid the river of media backlash and public embarrassment.

    Lastly, £40,000? If this is true, I think I’m not alone in saying that the Graphic Design students at Camberwell would’ve done it, better, and free of charge. But it appears that the only price we pay for this logo is that of an inspirational value.


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