Founded in 1943, the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (“Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education” in English and shortened usually as Tecnológico de Monterrey or, simply, El Tec) is one of the largest private multi-campus universities in Latin America offering high school, undergraduate, and postgraduate education to over 90,000 students. (It’s not the 200,000+ students of University of California but for Mexico it is quite huge). Based in Monterrey, it has over 30 campuses in 25 cities and hosts a very well-recognized MBA program. This week, the institution introduced a new logo designed by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.
Following the tradition of many U.S. universities, the Tec will now have a shield for formal usage and a logo for promotional and communications usage. The main challenge here is that the Tec has been using what is now the shield as its main logo since 1944. Similar to the University of California debacle last year, the media and students have latched on to the idea that the shield is going away — they would be so lucky, really — and replaced by this more heavily-corporate mark. You know the drill.
As you can see, the shield is a real nasty piece of design, even for shield and crest standards which tend to be unreadable hot messes of books and torches and leaves and words on a curve. Complaining about its loss or about its shift to a less prominent position is just for the sake of complaining and the inability of most people to accept change. Along with the new logo, it would have been nice to at least redraw the shield to look more regal and put together than that lightning bolt beaker purports to be.
The new logo consists of two elements: the torch, taken from our shield, representing the light of knowledge, obtaining achievements, leadership and entrepreneurship; five flames represent our values: Innovation, Global Vision, Teamwork, Human Sense and Integrity.
The circle refers to the world, refers to globalization and communicates the international reputation of our institution. A conjunction of the torch and the circle is known within the pieces of the logo, as a “symbol”.
These elements are complemented by the name of our institution, “Tecnológico de Monterrey”, shown in a special typeface and written in mixed case to give a better reading.
As far as the new logo goes, it’s about par for the course from the logos we’ve seen recently from Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv. Simple. And perhaps that’s what’s been catching the most flack, that it lacks the ornate approach of the old-one-now-shield. While I enjoy the simplicity, there is something awkward about the icon. The torch-holding-thing is too wide and looks like a really large cauldron. The five flames don’t seem to catch a proper rhythm nor have the — how to put it? — urgency and fierceness of fire. It’s the less successful version of Chermayeff & Geismar’s own NYU logo.
One of the better showcases for the new icon and identity is the alternate promotional mark with the type around it, creating a nicely contained graphic that looks quite nice on promo items (and on a t-shirt as you will see in the video below at the end).
The student and alumni reaction has been swift and prompt. It’s like Mexico had been waiting for its turn to tap into some logo humor for some years.
Ultimately, this is a strategically good move for the identity of the institution and the adoption of a very simple icon lends itself to much better and proper communication than the old logo. The new logo is not the most exciting but it is without a doubt a more appropriate representation of a well-regarded educational organization.
Thanks to José Héctor Gálvez for the tip.