Strong coat of arms
Edinburgh’s coat of arms is a pretty bold graphic device in it’s original form.There’s a saltire, a thistle, a castle and a book. The saltire in the background with a book rendered in the centre of the circle, on an almost square shield reinforces the symmetry and makes it a strong arrangement. Edinburgh have wisely chosen to build on that and used a classical serif font with Perpetua). It has quite pronounced serifs and there’s not too much stroke contrast. An italic ‘of’ provides a bit of a flourish and grammatical emphasis.
The coat of arms works especially well in monochrome, where the horizontal lines in the background add an almost engraved effect, especially at smaller sizes. I prefer it to the colour version where the red ‘pops’ and catches the eye. In some of the examples of design in the styleguide that use the red it works well when there is red used as highlights in the rest of the design. At first glance it seems that the text ‘university of edinburgh’ around the circle might be superfluous, but I think it acts to take the edge of the circle, giving a subtle feathering.
Different and appropriate
Interestingly, there is a separate web version of the logo with it’s own set of guidelines. A sans-serif face is used in place of Perpetua. It looks like Bell Gothic, and enables the text to be smaller and bolder. The detail in the serifs would struggle to be clear at smaller screen resolutions. It’s good to see consideration give to the challenge of maintaining a brand in a different medium.
Another variation centred around the roundel is the guidance on the use of the logo within the university schools. The school name is to be written in uppercase Swiss Bold to the right of the logo. The guidelines give four examples with the various school names spread over multiple lines. The effect is very direct. It declares the subject area very confidently, almost becoming a mini logo in itself.
I like the way that Edinburgh have embraced some of the challenges and different requirements demanded of a logo and sought to create some design directions that can be explored, whilst maintianing a thread back to the original source. There are the usual restrictions on what’s not allowed with the logo but it’s nice to see as many creative suggestions for the logo.