If you look closely (and I hope you enjoyed the reference), you can see representations of the human figure in various states of motion, which combine to make up a rose. You can see this more clearly in the previous version of the logo, which perhaps suggests that the new version is aiming to emphasise yorkshire rose’s prominence rather than the more generic people. Oddly enough, I found that once I’ve seen the people in the logo, I now have a little trouble seeing it as a rose.
Set in all lower case and displayed around the rose, the text is condensed Helvetica Neue Condensed leading to a vaguely utilitarian feel. Not sure about the alignment the text – I feel that a strong vertical alignment might have provided a better contrast with the looser flower style.
The following areas were identified in the corporate guidelines, outlining the rationale for the changes to the name and the logo.
Increased prominence given to our locatIon
Removal of the definitive article
Increased legibility of our coat of arms elements
Application of a new corporate colour to help distinguish our identity
I particularly like the very strong roundel where the parts of the University coat of arms have been brought together in a monochrome diagram that reminds me a little of a sporting badge. This feel is created by the strong uppercase around the imagery. The bespoke font (called Gordon) are is a compressed sans-serif that works well in the confines of the circle. The Os and Ds reminded me of DIN Mittelschrift and when looking at the DIN variations one can see it’s almost a combination of both.
The purple is also a welcome break with the usual blues and reds the seem prevalent in the sector.
Overall, a nice tension between the commonplace crest imagery with a subtly dynamic and strong display typeface makes this an enjoyable and distinctive treatment.
Suggestive of a Whirlwind, Orange peel, the Pepsi logo, James Bond’s gun barrel and maybe even some swimming dolphins. This circular mark certainly has some energy to it. With such an open, abstract mark there’s potential for people to come up with more of their own interpretations. The intention is clearly to use a dynamic, eye-catching device to signal a young and fresh institution.
Does it do that? Partly. The colours are bright and allied with the boldness of the painterly marks means it is almost overpowering. It does look like something stopped in mid animation, and the circle is a strong focal point. However, a trade off seems to have been made with a slightly generic abstraction used at the expense of a more specific sense of place.
The choice of the modern Flux Regular all set in lowercase, for the trading name ‘bucks new university’ fits with the idea to make a distinctive, bright first impression. It seems odd to use all lowercase, when the uppercase B of Flux seems to have the quirkiness of the odd shape bowl of the ‘b’ but with a stronger vertical. The ‘new university’ has a tint applied to give more prominence to ‘bucks’.
Delighting in ‘bucking’ convention in a strategy to stand out, the logo does draw on a different visual vocabulary from usual university logos. I wonder though, whether such in your face dynamism can be maintained.
Durham University (the trading name of the University of Durham) Is the new brand created around the existing shield based crest. The existing shield has had a makeover to make it a bolder and more striking graphic.
How they did it
Extensive use of the University purple and some negative space flattens the logo, unifying the elements from the original, with it’s canton upgraded to a full quarter in the newer graphic. The new version tightens up a few aspects:-
The Lions are simplified.
The chevron is linked to the cross where previously it was contained.
The inner part of the cross has softened corners.
and the exterior of the shield is also given a curve.
The softening of the Cross Patee may be a conscious decision to tone down what can be a symbol with slightly martial connotations, and that aspect works well. The strengthening of the cross by reversing it out of the shield is also successful, but I think the softening has gone a little too far with the overall shape of the shield – a sharper edge along the top might have provided more contrast.
The branding switch from the University of Durham to Durham University, seems to have emboldened the University to emphasise it’s location with a sharp use of Baskerville to provide a more refined and modern wordmark than the less modulated text used previously. The D of durham now has a curve tapering nicely into a strong ascender. The use of lower and upper case perhaps echoes the softening of the shield and speaks in quiet voice.
Rich Graphic heritage
The collegiate structure of Durham University means there’s a large degree of independence for the colleges, as can be seen by this lovely page showing the array of coats of arms of the colleges. With such a strong range of graphic devices that students and staff obviously are very attached to, then it must have been a daunting challenge to rebrand the overall look without losing that collegiate feel.
A successful exercise in redrawing and moderninsing a long established emblem of the University, making it a more versatile mark to be used in a variety of ways.