When the logo began to gain widespread notice this week, criticism was swift and brutal. Many thought that the image was not a fitting replacement for the stately university seal, even though the university said the two were meant to coexist. Other common complaints ranged from a perception that the monogram was too corporate-looking to a sense it was incomprehensible and just plain ugly. The university defended it for a few days, but has now relented.
Full announcement from UC:
Daniel M. Dooley, senior vice president for external relations at the University of California Office of the President, made the following statement today (Dec. 14):
A controversy has developed over an element of an integrated visual identity designed for use by the University of California's systemwide office. This controversy has created a major distraction for the UCOP External Relations Division as it pursues its broader mission: communicating to all Californians the vital contributions UC makes to the quality of their lives and the prosperity of the state.
The controversy has been fueled in large part by an unfortunate and false narrative, which framed the matter as an either-or choice between a venerated UC seal and a newly designed monogram.
In fact, the graphic element in question was never intended to replace the official seal that still graces diplomas and other appropriate documents. Rather, it was to provide a graphic cue to distinguish systemwide communications materials from those of individual campuses.
The monogram was only a piece of the visual identity system — a new approach to typography, photography, colors and the like — that was developed by UCOP design staff.
Since it debuted in the past year, this new "look" has served the UC system well, replacing what was a clutter of dated materials that varied from UCOP department to department. And it has received praise from an array of accomplished design experts not affiliated with the university.
And yet, while I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it also is important that we listen to and respect what has been a significant negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community.
Therefore, I have instructed the communications team to suspend further use of the monogram. For certain applications, this process could require a measure of time to complete. In due course, we will re-evaluate this element of the visual identity system.
My hope going forward is that the passion exhibited for the traditional seal can be redirected toward a broader advocacy for the University of California. For it is only with robust support from the citizens of this state that the university will be able to serve future generations of Californians as well as it has those of the past.
Update 3 p.m.
Jason Simon, UC's director of marketing and communications, spoke with KQED's Joshua Johnson this morning about l'affaire monogram. Simon's group was in charge of the rebranding effort, and he spoke about the intention behind the change:
"The biggest thing we were trying to do is demonstrate the vibrancy that happens on our campuses every day. There are amazing things going on throughout the UC system. And a new monogram and a new symbol was meant to capture that forward looking spirit," he said.
Simon said the rebranding was put through a series of focus groups and online surveys. "And then beyond that, we took an even bigger risk and an even bigger challenge by having this in an open and public space, waiting for feedback for about nine months. And quite candidly, during that period, we did a lot of public and visible things with the mark and really only heard positive input until this past week or so."
"We had a million people or so visiting the site this year," he said.
Simon said the university finally decided to pull the plug on the logo because it had become "too much of a distraction."