University of California scraps new identity after online outcry

The University of California has scrapped a new identity in response to an online campaign, including a petition with more than 50 000 signatories that called for the branding to be dropped.

The new identity as shown in an introductory video
The new identity as shown in an introductory video

The University had started to roll out the new identity, designed in house, on several websites and a campaign called Onward California. It has been in use for around a year.

But following the logo’s wider introduction, protest against it grew, with a petition on gaining 54 000 signatories and a Facebook group, Stop the UC Logo Change, picking up nearly 7000 likes.

The university has now decided to drop the new identity system.

The new monogram logo
The new monogram logo

Daniel M. Dooley, senior vice-president for external relations at the University of California, says, ‘While I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it is also important that we listen to and respect what has been a significant negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community.

‘Therefore I have instructed the communications team to suspend further use of the logo.’

Those protesting against the new branding likened it to ‘a logo from a bad online university’, and ‘something found in the toddler section of Toys R’ Us’.

The new branding shown online
The new branding shown online

However defenders, including Armin Vit at Brand New, suggested the identity was ‘more good than it is bad’, and highlighted protests against it as exemplifying ‘the mob mentality poses to the practice of logo and identity design’.

Much of the protest led from a belief that the University was set to drop its ‘seal’ monogram and replace it with the new identity, however, the University consistently denied this.

It says it tried to bring in the new identity to provide a recognisable identity for the whole UC system (which includes nine campuses across the state) and replace a ‘hodge-podge’ of communications material.

Dooley says, ‘The controversy was fuelled in large part by an unfortunate and false narrative, which framed the matter as an either-or choice between a venerated UC seal and a newly designed monogram.

‘In fact the graphic element in question was never meant to replace the official seal that still graces diplomas and other appropriate document. Rather, it was to provide a graphic cue to distinguish systemwide communications materials from those of individual campuses.’

The original 'seal' logo
The original ‘seal’ logo
Hide Comments (6)Show Comments (6)
  • Matt Baxter November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Picture the scene: mid 2009, Whitehall.

    Lord Coe sips his morning wheatgrass shot and surveys the morning tabloids. All the redtops are running rabidly anti-2012-logo stories. Pages and pages of it. It seems there’s a consensus out there.

    Coe puts down his wheatgrass, direct-dials Wolff Olins and sighs, “The Wapping mob are right, Wolffys. Let’s go back to the wavey red, white and blue ribbon and Olympic rings combo. Maybe stick a Big Ben and a London Eye on there whilst you’re at it.”

    Sometimes you’ve got to stick to your guns.

  • Maxine Horn November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Oh per-leease – 7000 students protest about a new logo identity – and yet have no such unity to rise up and be counted to ban sale of hand guns.

    Where oh where are your priorities America ….

  • Rob Andrews November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    That’s a really good identity.

    The sad thing is that the University has some of the most dramatic modern architecture on its campuses (campi? campodes?), so they’re not averse to being challenging with design.

    They should have told petitioners that there were always other, less progressive universities that they were welcome to attend, rather than backing down.

    The design community should set up a Facebook page to get them to unbackdown – and set one up for Gap at the same time… and a rather belated one for British Airways.

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

    It’s a shame, I though the new logo was quite good and had potential across different formats. However, the unwashed masses were reacting to not only one version of the logo, but the implication that the original seal was being replaced.

    Admittedly, the video above doesn’t help with that opinion.

    UC should have ignored the fuss which would have gone away in a week’s time when America became outraged by the next ridiculous thing to be outraged by.

  • Mat Dolphin November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Regardless of whether you like the logo of not, it does show a slightly worrying trend for design being dictated by public opinion.

    Read our blog post about it here –

  • Stephen Mortimer November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I don’t like the placing of “of”. Looks awkward. Couldn’t they just simply modernise/clean it up instead of drastically changing it?

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