Opinions on corporate and brand identity work.

A division of UnderConsideration.

Share ›

This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.


IC, UC, We all C for California

Reviewed Nov. 20, 2012 by Armin

Industry / Education Tags /

University of California Logo, Before and After

Established in 1868, the University of California (UC) is the public university system of the state of California that encompasses ten campuses: Berkeley, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Davis, San Diego, Irvine, Santa Cruz, and Merced. Rarely will people say they attend or teach (past or present) at “UC” or “University of California”, they are usually very specific as to which campus — its most well known probably being Berkeley and UCLA — so UC and University of California are more of a parent company. UC “includes more than 220,000 students and more than 170,000 faculty and staff, with more than 1.5 million alumni living and working around the world.” So, it’s big. Starting in September, UC introduced a new logo and identity. No design credit given. And no specifications shared as to how, or if at all, this logo affects the unique logos of each of the ten campuses. Currently, the identity has been rolled out in an admissions website separate from the main site, a campaign website for an initiative called Onward California, and on another (see Stanford) very nice brand mini site.

Update: It has been confirmed that the design — everything from the logo to the video to the applications — was carried in-house, by an 11-person creative team formed about three and a half years ago. The post has also been updated with quotes from the team. (Full credits at the end.)

Previously, the UC system only used its seal as its primary visual identifier, where it was abused with impunity. We feel it is an important component of the university’s visual ecosystem. But it is a non-distinctive symbol which serves an important bureaucratic function. Now we limit its use to formal systemwide communications, diplomas, official regental and presidential communications, and other official documents. Many of our campuses, and other universities across the country have limited use of their official seals in similar ways.

From this perspective, this is less of a rebranding exercise, but instead the creation of a coherent, consistent, and relevant brand identity where before there was none.
— Vanessa Kanan Correa, Creative Director, University of California

New logo introduction. Quite well done and does a great job in explaining where everything comes from.

University of California Logo and Identity

University of California Logo and Identity

While the monogram is rooted in tradition (it was also meant to reference, in a modern way, the crests of many prestigious institutions of higher learning), it is designed with visual relevance and authenticity top of mind. It is meant to be scalable, flexible, adaptable; something that would let us talk to our diverse audiences while maintaining recognizability. It is also just one piece of a dynamic visual vocabulary we have created.
— Vanessa Kanan Correa, Creative Director, University of California

The previous wordmark reflected the kind of secondary role University of California played in contrast to its individual campuses, all of which have strong academic and athletics identities. Basically, the previous wordmark could have not even existed and no one would have complained. With this new identity, it’s clear that UC wants to stand out more and establish itself as the guardian of all these campuses and it’s a great move. The icon is simple and memorable; perhaps hard to read as “UC” because the “C” is so prominent and the “U” reads first as a book/shield than a “U” but emphasizing C for California is not such a bad thing. Some of our tipsters suggested it doesn’t look very collegiate and I think that’s fine as this is more about establishing a friendly brand presence for the overall family of campuses while each campus then can drill the collegiate message more efficiently. The wordmark is set in FF Kievit, which starts to look a little too default-y or Microsoft-y but it’s certainly a safe and honest choice.

University of California Logo and Identity

Evoking California — and its innovative spirit — was a critical driving factor in the aesthetics across all the visual elements. We felt that what makes the University of California special is that, well, we’re in California. And what happens here impacts the world. So, we built something that was optimistic, experimental, pioneering, and bold… qualities that reflect California itself.
— Vanessa Kanan Correa, Creative Director, University of California

University of California Logo and Identity

University of California Logo and Identity

In application, the logo can be pattern-repeated or is accompanied by a lot of angled lines, which start to feel “Boldly Californian” as described in the Vimeo page of the video at the top. The Boldly Californian vibe is best evidenced in the Onward California — it really looks as the child of the 1980s/New Wave/California Michaels look. Lastly, there is also a revised seal that maintains the overall wobbliness of the original but with cleaned up details like less text on the book, less tangled ribbon, and better spaced dots on the outer ring. I wish they had hand-crafted the typography there too and not just put Copperplate Gothic on a circle (or on the ribbon, my God!). Overall, this is a really great redesign that gives UC its own personality.

Correction: The seal was not redrawn. It just seems like there was an older version floating around Google Image Search that I grabbed. Still you can see that this version is nicer than another version.

University of California Logo and Identity

University of California Logo and Identity

Design team
Art Director and Interactive Designer: Kirill Mazin
Interactive Designer: Matt Glass
Designer: Natasha Foote
Designer: Jason Huang
Sr. Designer: Ethan Davis
Designer: Jose Pantoja
Developer: Adam Mangum
Multimedia Director: Larissa Branin
Sr. Producer: Jess Wheelock
Producer: Zak Long
Creative Director: Vanessa Correa

Thanks to Justin Gaspar for first tip.



Share ›

Spotted Around the web

New Logo for Bojangles’

New Logo for Bojangles'
Spotted Jul. 9, 2020

Pinned Recent, Big Stories


New Logo for Lifetime

New Logo for Lifetime
Posted Mar. 26, 2020