Year-old UC logo redesign prompts sudden backlash

The UC's seal is on the left; the new logo is on the right.
University of California/Courtesy
The UC's seal is on the left; the new logo is on the right.

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After 144 years, the University of California has changed its logo to what officials say is a more modern design, prompting criticism from some in the UC community.

The new logo is part of a larger campaign to unify the UC system and to reach out to the state as a whole, according to UC spokesperson Dianne Klein.

“It’s part of a larger redesign in engaging Californians with what we do,” Klein said. “We want to have an identity that encompasses all the campuses and the UC system.”

The new design features the profile of a book in the form of the letter U with a yellow C at the bottom and can be found in a variety of colors. Although it has been in use for nearly a year, the logo only garnered attention after the Oakland Tribune published an article on the redesign.

The logo, which was designed by an in-house team, has been primarily used for systemwide communication purposes. However, the new logo will not replace the original seal, which will still be used on diplomas and other official documents.

“We are not plugging one in for another,” Klein said. “It is not replacing in any form or in any way individual campus identity.”

Klein says that the university wanted to choose a design that would be flexible and be able to distinguish the UC system.

Despite the university’s intentions, a number of members of the UC community have spoken out against the redesigned logo.

An online petition started on Change.org by UC Irvine fourth-year student Reaz Rahman has garnered nearly 42,000 signatures as of Monday evening.

Rahman said he began the petition because he believed that the new logo did not fit the university and its image.

“While it will not replace the seal, the monogram will replace the identity of the University (of California),” Rahman said. “And it does not resonate with the prestige and history of the university.”

According to David Aaker, a brand-strategy specialist and professor emeritus at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, the logo redesign accounts for only a small part of a brand. However, he believes the university should have put more effort in explaining the logo.

“A big mistake was putting out the logo without putting out what the brand stands for,” Aaker said. “They should’ve put forth what the UC stands for and what the logo stands for.”

To UC Berkeley junior Maegan Blansett, the redesign is an unnecessary change.

“It is not a very attractive symbol,” Blansett said. “I don’t understand why they would spend time rebranding and create a non-aesthetically pleasing design.”

In the face of harsh criticism, Klein says administrators are paying attention to concerns and are taking feedback seriously.

“We understand the passion and are gratified that so many people are engaged,” Klein said. “It’s been in use for the past year, and we expect it to evolve over time.”

Contact Andrea Guzman at [email protected].

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