Founded in 1965, Ravensbourne is a university sector college with “a vocationally focused portfolio of courses, spanning fashion, television and broadcasting, interactive product design, architecture and environment design, graphic design, animation, moving image, music production for media and sound design”, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees as well as pre-degree courses and professional short courses for industry. Located in London, Ravensbourne has a community of 2,400 students and a fancy campus at Greenwich Peninsula next to The O2. As it seeks to achieve university status, Ravensbourne has begun rolling out a new identity designed by London-based NB.
Forward-thinking design institution Ravensbourne aims to become an independent University with degree-awarding powers. NB asked, “What does a creative University look like?” Revisiting the idea of a crest, we developed a simple mark that opens up in application to become a flexible framing device, brimming with energy - just like the ‘creative village’ of Ravensbourne. The mark boldly asserts the college name and sets up a system that joyfully showcases the work.
The previous identity, designed by johnson banks in 2010, was weird AF even for a weird art college in London. It was a fun, challenging scheme — that even won in the short-lived Brand New Awards — but I can’t imagine it being easy to implement nor consider it well suited for the long run. The new logo and identity are much more user-friendly both in aesthetic and implementation, which takes away the edge it had in exchange for a sense of familiarity — as in not being too different from something like Bruce Mau Design’s identity for OCAD. This is not to imply that NB copied BMD but that different approaches to clients in the same industry led to work that looks alike. Most roads in design lead to Rome, one version or another of it.
The new logo is meant to be a contemporary crest which, no, it’s not, even if it’s a nice sentiment or concept. It’s an “R” in a square with a diagonal, not an interpretation of a crest. It sounds like I don’t like the logo but I actually do — I just wish it had less of a sales pitch. It’s easy to understand without it. The “R” device is minimal and I’m a fan of thick strokes so it has a nice graphic appeal and the wordmark, based on a custom typeface by Kostas Bartsokas for Ravensbourne, has a healthy dose of personality. The blue circles appear to be the official ornament of the logo and even though Ravensbourne is not a laundromat or water company I like them simply because they are pleasing.
The crest has the flexibility to open up and accommodate all kinds of content, from messaging to groovy images and, sure, it works but any spark of OMG-that’s-Cool-! is not there. (Except for the chair thing above, that’s cool.) Perhaps for prospective students, their parents, and other businesses that interact with Ravensbourne, it does come across as OMG-that’s-Cool-! which is perfectly fine. A logo-review blogger and a bunch of logo-blog commenters aren’t always the target audience.
The prototype applications and signage renderings look effective, engaging, and more importantly, easy to expand and implement, establishing a more identifiable look for the college. Overall, this is a safe bet approach that looks artsy without the weirdness of the previous identity.