The original, flat logo is an elegant combination of the letters creating a versatile and lasting brand. As covered on Daivid Airey’s logo love there is also a subtle nod to the historical use of shields in other university branding. I’m not sure what the addition of the gradients and shadow to the logo are meant to achieve. For me. they are just modish distractions from a basic classic.
Also worth mentioning is the University’s misson for distance learning meant that there was a very strong motion graphics component to the brand. Generations grew up with the Open University idents on day time and late night television as seen in this youtube video
Finally, I can’t mention the Open University without linking to this Fry and Laurie sketch.
A development from the original design by Franks and Franks, this identity treads the familar path of university logos by a using an inscriptional serif font to boldly declare the location, allied with a plainly drawn illustrative shield.
The sharp serifs on the uppercase text provide some interest in the generous whitespace. Separated from the crest in what seems to be the modern way, by a thin vertical stroke.
The shield itself is a traditional feeling illustration of a swan, alluding, one presumes, to the motto of the university: – “Flying on our own wings”.
The Northampton logo has an interesting approach, explained with this diagram from the corporate guidelines.
As you can see an attempt has been made to incorporate a few elements and meanings into the logo, it only really works if the letters function as letters first and foremost. Good idea to incorporate a graphic based obliquely on something important and relevant to the town, but trying to mangle the letters ‘n’ and ‘u’ into a pre-existing shape seems a step too far.
It could be that I’m staying up too late but I see a stylised rabbit somewhere in there. The badge shape is however, a nice variation on the traditional shield, and hints at what could be done with this logo. The ‘u’ shape makes the logo feel unresolved.
On the plus side, I Like the choice of optima as a clean and softer modern font. Tightly spaced but still managing to be fresh and open without trying too hard to be dynamic and aspirational. The decision to set it all in uppercase makes alignment easy negating any awkward whitespace within the word.
Standard university crest, drawn in a very pale way that makes it look almost like clip art. Accompanied by some puzzling graphics device, that come with an pretty literal explanation.
The geometric foundation of the design is based upon a circular form, which makes reference to the Institution’s global perspective and international reputation in teaching and research. The typographic elements demonstrate a hierarchy which promotes the importance of the location within the nomenclature. The group of circles represents the incremental growth of knowledge and experience and the progressive development of the University as an educational leader. This thematic device continues through to the linear band on the right of the Coat of Arms and describes the cyclical movement of time, indicating progression and new directions.
Interestingly, the logo as presented is claimed to
achieve an aesthetic balance and unity of form which offers versatility across the Corporate Identity Scheme.
Which I’m not entirely sure about. At present it seems there are some intriguing ideas but the elements feel disconnected. The pale treatment of the circles and linear band prevents them from tightening the rest of the logo. Unfortunately the elements seem to float around the strong traditional core of the logo without adding too much.
On the university website, a different and much tighter logo is used that eschews the graphic signifiers and is content to present a shield and the location.
The shield shape is suggested by two calligraphic marks at the top and bottom. Incorporated in the logo is a book, an anchor, a pickaxe and a hammer. The dragon at the top of the shield looks like it has been squashed to fit the space which a little off putting, and makes it feel like an add on. The way the shield has been created with open space and marks tops and bottom, is perhaps designed to make it less formal, but also suggests an anchor shape.
For the bi-lingual element of the logo, the two parts are given roughly equal weight and prominence, both placed beneath the shield.
Modern sans-serif typeface adds to the informal feel. A very curvy and modulated typeface, Cosmos has some extreme changes in strokes and a large x-height, setting a fresh yet quirky tone.
Proabably one element too far (the dragon)betraying a lack of focus in an otherwise fresh take on a university logo.
Challenging amount of location information for Strathclyde to include with a specific location followed by a more general one. Aligned to the left, and set in Meta Bold the wordmark has a clearly defined hierarchy and the condesed nature of the typeface helps to keep things tight. The typeface is a very legible and usable display face that has the suggestions of modernity but with a calming relaxed feel.
Quite a lively coat of arms in an unusual and distinctive inverted pentagon shape. There’ lots going on. There are two books, a crown, 3 Cinquefoils ,a Saltire and what appears to an ECG readout. Whilst good fun to find at larger sizes these can lose definition when smaller and the saltire becomes the dominant shape.
The pentagon shape is aligned right and the overall favoured positioning of the logo is to the bottom right of publications where it balances well in that corner.
Overall, a logo that balances the familiar need to allude to heritage with a need to be more dynamic, especially with some original choices about shapes and placement.
The typeface is a solid serif, with too much graduation that treads the well worn path of uppercase serif font and a coat of arms, good use is made of the differing lengths of the text to bring the elements closer and play against each other, creating a tightly integrated block.
The guillotine shape acts offsets the overall block effect, and is mostly used as a tab at the top of a typical design; slightly more difficult when bleeding to the edge is impractical, but a keyline device is then used to define the shape.
There is a rather lovely illustration of the coat of arms and explanation in a heritage guide to the history of the institution. The version rendered in the logo is in a clear linear style that benefits from being displayed large, but can cope with the inevitable reductions.
A common problem with universities – they have a tradition that they would like to refer to, but would also like to present some dynamism and development. Heriot Watt have chosen a device to give the restrained and somewhat conservative logo some tension.
The reading logo uses the familiar motif of a shield and the coat of arms has a longer lineage than I was originally aware of. Small touches of modern tastes have led to the shield accquiring some subtle softening of the corners. The wordmark of the logo uses the university sans serif, complete with the long straight extender? of the ‘R’ which is used as a graphic device elswehere.
‘Rdg Swift’ is a fairly quirky serif face, with some hefty wedge shaped terminals and serifs, set off by a large x-height.
‘Rdg Vesta’ is a reasonably narrow face with some tapered elements, reminding me of a compressed optima.
Together these faces are used extensively, providing a range of options and the idea of providing easy and practical steps for anyone to acquire the fonts might make the task of enforcing the brand a more manageable one.
The simple mark makes for a confident and relaxed logo. The subtle softening of the shield is in keeping with the typography, which seeks to speak in a confidently modern way.
Detailed and traditional rendering of the University shield allied to a straightforward classical treatment for the wordmark.
A good explanation of the shield elements can be found on the Heraldic & Genealogical Society’s website.
The shield is competently drawn and the type is sensibly plain. Rather a special case, being such an influential and widely known brand, the shield cannot really add the to the existing reputation of the University, and functions as visual punctuation. The detail of the shield can be lost, leaving the simples shape of a white cross with central square, and one can just make out the gold lions.
A mildly condensed uppercase serif wordmark gets the important information across in a traditional, restrained way. No real surprises with the wordmark, perhaps content instead to state the pertinent facts and let the University’s reputation speak for itself.
Interesting grid ideas
An interesting Horizontal grid system is provided in the guidelines, where there are examples given explaining possible uses. The grid specifies the size of the elements that the page should be divided into. For example, an A3 page would be divided into 30 horizontal panels of 20mm each. The system looks pretty versatile, though it relies pretty heavily on the elements being able to occupy the full width of a page for it to work.
The logo for such a famous and highly ranked University needs to encourage the sense of continuous excellence rather than break any new ground. The extremely understated nature of this logo does this; ironically by being conservative and neutral.
A modern and simplified interpretation of a shield with waves intersecting and reversing out. I presume that the waves refer to the hot water spa that Bath is famous for. The blue and grey (or silver, as it’s referred to in the guidelines) makes for a very light logo. One that reminds me of beauty or health products; the washed out feel is avoided in the black and white version which is altogether stronger.
The wordmark of the logo uses DIN to continue the almost antiseptically clean feel to this logo. The location of Bath isn’t stressed as much as say, the University of Bath, but perhaps that is a reflection of the newness of the organisation – granted university status in 2005 – in this context the word ‘University’ acts as a reminder of the hard won status. The choice of such an open typeface redolent as it is, of signage is to speak in an accessible, approachable and technological voice.
Variations on a theme
When used on the website, the shield is accompanied by text rendered in Arial, making a bolder and dare I say a more confident mark.
On the cover of the prospectus the shield is used without the close proximity of the text and it gains some stature by being a little enigmatic.
Without the obvious visual shorthand of heraldry to draw upon, Bath Spa have gone for a modern almost pictographic device, which draws upon a different tradition of flat colours and graphic shapes used by newer institutions. I think more versatile and successful in monochrome.