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What does your logo say about you? Recent design school branding trends

If you cast your minds back to any decade there will be elements of design that are native to that moment in time, whether you apply this to technology, fashion or industry. Some design trends are instantly recognizable as being of a particular period (the mullet springs to mind). Years from now, when we look back on the decade of 2010-2019, what will our mullet be? Is there a design trend so ubiquitous to this period that it will form part of future generations Halloween costumes?

There is an interesting trend when you look across a wide selection of design school logos. They are all black and white!!!!  For the Monty Python aficionados out there – "We're all individual, I'm not!"

The rise of the design school logo

When we talk about design here on the TERMINALFOUR blog, we most often speak in terms of broader website design. A recent encounter, however, set us thinking about logo design, specifically about how design trends influence university logo design.

Google any design school, anywhere in the world (go on, we will wait).

Hint, one thing should leap out at you in black and white. Yes, you guessed it, the vast majority of design school logos follow the same pared black and white logo design. In fact, when compared to the wider higher education community, design school logos are strikingly similar in their difference. Think of a traditional college or university and it’s likely that if you were asked to make an attempt at drawing a typical university logo, you would draw a crest with the name of the university underneath in a classic font with a dark, muted color such as navy. 

What makes a logo iconic?

Think about the world's most iconic logos:

  • McDonalds golden arches
  • Starbucks siren,
  • Mercedes triangle star
  • Apple logo
  • Nike tick

What has made these logos stand the test of time? What makes them so iconic? An effective logo needs to tick five boxes. They should be simple, memorable, timeless, versatile and appropriate to the brand. While a logo doesn't tell the story of the brand, it acts as a visual representation of what the brand is about.

For higher education institutions, the logo has an important role to play. The logo usually follows a simple format but as with traditional commercial brands, a university logo extends a unique identification of the institution, representing their history, culture and tradition and symbolizes the values that are important to the university.

How much does a logo say about your higher education brand?

This stark contrast between design schools and more traditional higher education institutions got us thinking about whether there is a conscious decision by design schools to look uniformly different. For instance, do prospective students identify these logos with design schools and could this then help in the selection process? Certainly a logo tells the consumer about the aesthetic of your brand, its voice, culture and values. For design schools, it’s important that their logo conveys a sense that they are at the forefront of design. If you think about it, would you trust a design school that still had a website sporting a fetching 1999 Adobe Flash design?  Probably not.

The same goes for university logos – they should lend themselves to the values and expertise of your institution.  They will be displayed on your website, on social media, on you tube videos and signage. If someone is visiting your campus or your website, will your brand have an impact or just look very similar to other universities or colleges.

What do you think? Do a large number of design schools having the same brand colors have a negative impact?

Tagged: design, logo, branding

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