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ERIC Number: EJ1016828
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0748-478X
Identity Crisis: How the University of California System Built a Brand Identity but Lost a Logo Along the Way
Simon, Jason
CURRENTS, v39 n5 p34-38 May-Jun 2013
The logo controversy was sparked by an article on the "San Jose Mercury News"' website that was promptly picked up by other news outlets and shared across social networks. Under the headline "University of California introduces a modern logo" sat a blurry, low-quality image of the new monogram next to the 145-year-old UC seal. The new logo was for use on system-wide web pages, social media, and other communications and marketing materials; it was never going to replace the university's seal, which would continue to be used on diplomas and other official university documents. But in a social media flash, a false narrative was cast. By the next morning, 12,000 people had signed the petition; the number grew to 35,000 within 48 hours. On Sunday, the uproar made national news and was featured on NBC's "Rock Center with Brian Williams" that night. As time has passed--and other visual identity controversies have followed--the UC team has reflected on what they might have done differently. But this left the author with a lingering concern: At a time when strategic marketing is finally becoming an accepted concept at higher education institutions, how do communications and marketing professionals ensure that their efforts are not seen as trivial, manipulative, or superficial? In this article, the author describes the UC marketing communications department's creation of the UC identity that was based on strategy and research, gained approval from UC community members, and was successfully used in public for more than a year, before the monogram was sacrificed to an angry social media mob. He goes on to evaluate what the team could have done differently and demonstrates how this experience raises real questions for communications and marketing professionals.
Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 1307 New York Avenue NW Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-328-2273; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A