The rationalization administrators generally offer is that everybody else is doing it. And there's no faculty organization strong enough to propose that administrators enter into a strategic marketing reduction treaty in order to end a positional arms race that net-net dissipates resources.
But while the arms race rages, there are plenty of administrative follies to scoff at, most recently, at an eastern university with a dog of a logo. University of Connecticut (hereafter ZooConn) president Susan Herbst announces the outcome of her university's branding initiative, in language that echoes John Kennedy blaming Dwight Eisenhower, and by extension, Richard Nixon, for a missile gap. Apparently, to the missile gap and the mineshaft gap we have to add the wordmark gap.
“We need to broadcast who we are or we will waste away, as other very sophisticated and successful universities dominate public discourse and the search for knowledge,” Herbst said during her address.It's the usual business bafflegab, despite pieties to the contrary.
The new primary wordmark – presented as “UCONN,” in all capital letters – lies at the center of the University’s visual identity and has been designed to create a powerful symbol that is representative of the University as a whole. Recent University research indicates that the University of Connecticut is widely known today as UConn; a number of other institutions have similarly embraced shortened school names as their primary naming convention for their academic and athletics programs, including MIT, UCLA, Georgia Tech, Pitt, and Penn.
“As an institution, for years we have made use of ‘UConn’ as an institutional nickname of sorts,” Herbst said. “Recognizing that there is great value and recognition in this unique identifier, going forward, we are adopting ‘UConn’ as one primary visual wordmark for the entire institution.”
The newly adopted wordmark has been created for institutional and academic use across the University. It is a modified version of the wordmark developed in recent years for the UConn Athletics program, which began working with Nike last year to unify the numerous disparate logos used by various UConn athletics teams.
“We’re not breakfast cereal, and we’re not a detergent. But we still need to communicate what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and that we do it well. So branding actually matters a great deal,” Herbst said. “As an institution with a global reach, we must compete on an international level for virtually everything: for students, faculty, staff, grants, awards, donations – you name it. And when we compete, we need to present ourselves at our very best, because how key audiences perceive our academic strength and overall reputation influences the choices they make.”So for all the money they spend, they got this.
As if that dog says anything at all about what the meteorologists or the economists or the string quartet or the string theorists or the philosophers are doing. Somewhere in the intellectual activity, methinks, is where the very best is.
The new symbol has generated pushback that has received national attention.
Over the course of the past few weeks, UConn has gradually unveiled its “New University Visual Identity Program” which will make UConn the school’s new “wordmark” with a unified appearance, and will require a change in the Husky Dog logo from its current mascot to a more “powerful and aggressive” looking logo. In your Second State of the University Address, you spoke to the reasoning behind this re-branding and logo change, and these justifications left me overcome by waves of anger and frustration. As a UConn student who is proud of my University’s academics and my future degree, I feel frustrated; as a woman student living at this campus I am outright offended. I am appalled by the selective amnesia these justifications display and angered at the superficiality of this Visual Identity Program.Whatever. Herbert Matter could put new paint on the New Haven and on the Boston and Maine, but if the trains were unreliable, it made no difference. In like manner, ZooConn can replace its old logo with this one, and if the administration starves the academic departments of resources, it will make no difference.
Other commentary on the rebranding initiative gripe about the aesthetics, or not, of the design.
Sorry, ZooCoon, the best use of red, black, a Huskie, and a wordmark has already been taken.