Graziela Camacho, Graphic Designer

Redesigned UC Logo

By: Graziela | 10 Dec 2012

Design can mobilize people…and in this case, it’s unified them in their disapproval for USC’s new logo. According to the online petition, critiques claim the new logo, “while attempting to be modern, loses the prestige and elegance of the current seal.” With 36,895 online petitions, I had to investigate further.

Firstly, change is never an easy process and the modern art movement is a prime example of that. I’m sure people didn’t appreciate Vincent van Gogh’s bold brush strokes or Mattisse’s use of bright colors during the 19th century. In fact, there is no clear end to Modernism as contemporary styles crept in. This ambiguity in shifting styles must have caused a certain amount of grief for some. So could it be that people are just not ready for this new logo design or is it truly a horrendous act of design gone wrong? If not pleasing to the eye, it has certainly stricken up a conversation and isn’t that what art and design is all about?

I have to wonder if all those people opposed to the seal asked the right questions while making it their business to judge. How would one go about accurately deciding whether or not this logo is successful? The USC Office of the President claims that it is meant to “reflect innovation…be more modern, user-friendly.” The definition of modern design is to be, “characteristic or expressive of recent times or the present; contemporary or up-to-date: modern”.

Here is my analysis: The Victorian seal is an old tradition dating back to the old world, when people used stamps in order to seal letters with melted wax. The mediums being used were good old paper & wax – great, for that time period. Today, however, we click “send” and maybe include a signature in an email electronically. The medium has changed to instant internet technology and the decorative, ornate seal is no longer necessary. In this sense, the new logo seems successful because it can be applied easily to newer technological mediums. It’s to the point. It’s clean. I even think it does a great job at retaining most of the important elements from the old seal.

The silhouette of an open book is clear on the top border. The same blue is used in what is obviously a “U” shape for “University”. A bright sunny yellow “C”, represents the sunshine state of California. Conceptually, I think it does a fine job at conveying, literature, a University and sunny California in a modern, clean style. In fact, the word “Light” is also represented in the new logo. Look at how the C turns into a gradient at the bottom, much like rays of light breaking through…as in… “Let There Be Light” from the old logo. It needs nothing more and nothing less in my opinion. In house designers did an excellent job at creating a video to demonstrate further how it can be applied in various other forms of media:

Sadly, most undergraduates might not “get it” and that’s okay. After all, they are saving as many brain cells as possible for finals instead of thoughtfully analyzing modern design. ☺ Most critiques claim it appears to be childish, but they are missing the beauty of it. It doesn’t matter if the design could be done in one hour or less. The point is what it represents and how it works with our new forms of technology. We are a visually obsessed culture. Objects and shapes need to convey so much in a very short amount of time. This move to something more modern by USC is smart and positioning them in such a way so that they will not be hindered by older notions of communication. Don’t students want to be set-apart from other Universities using the same old seal/crest? Don’t they feel any sense of pride knowing that their University was the FIRST to modernize in such a way? Leading the way to something new?

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