Established in 1913, Harvard University Press is a “leading publisher of convergent works in the sciences, humanities, and social sciences” and, as its name implies, it is the imprint of Harvard University. Facing challenges with making the transition to apps, digital reading devices, and web browsers using its previous identity — an honorable and traditional shield — Harvard University Press has introduced a new logo designed by New York, NY-based Chermayeff & Geismar.
Partner Sagi Haviv’s solution — six equal crimson rectangles that form an abstract H that can also be seen as books on a shelf, windows, or a modern tablet — is simple enough that it will be effective both in traditional applications, such as book spines and title pages, and also in digital media such as app icons, browser icons, and ebooks. […] “The new identity also puts the emphasis on the Harvard name (previously obscured within the seal), underscoring the Press’s historic and ongoing relationship with the University.”
— Press materials provided by Chermayeff & Geismar
Hey, pssst… Don’t tell anyone but the old logo was a shield with the usual vines and stuff and awkward typography in a circle (except that this was an oval so it’s even weirder) which in turn had the Harvard Veritas shield in it, making it a doubley-super-powered traditional shield that gave gravitas and higher meaning to each and every author’s published words and without it the whole imprint might be considered a sham. Worse, with a very corporate logo, Harvard University Press could look as if it had sold out. I am, of course, poking fun at the University of California situation and, while this is not the exact same thing, the “Before/After” image is almost the exact kind of change that so infuriates people associated with a university. Nevertheless, change is here. And this change is excellent.
The new logo is a wonderful abstraction of the letter “H” — it’s the first thing I saw — as well as books on a shelf. Even before I read the press release or explanation it was obvious what it was. And to do it with six chubby sticks is magnificently simple. It puts it right up there with other iconic university press logos like MIT Press and the old Yale University Press. The typography is a simple serif that doesn’t do much, which is really all it needs to do: spell out the name and move on. A great redesign that brings us one step closer to a world without centuries-old shield logos.