What Were They Thinking?

Can someone explain the new University of California logo? It looks to me like something you’d expect to see from a supermarket.

Students and alumni don’t like it one bit, with one suggesting it be killed with fire. This is making the marketing guys behind New Coke seem like geniuses.

H/T: Rod Dreher

FILED UNDER: Education, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    Looks like a great logo for the Banana Slug mascot to wear on his chest.

  2. Fiona says:

    As a UC grad, I think killing it with fire is a good idea. That and making sure the geniuses who created it are never allowed near a branding campaign again.

  3. john personna says:

    I don’t think the individual campuses used that branding anyway. They have their own, right?

    (The new one looks fine for a uc system web presence …)

  4. Bernieyeball says:

    Joanna Wheaton · Free University of Berlin
    It looks like the aerial view of a flushing toilet.

    Lifted from the comments at the linked Mercury News item.

  5. Fiona says:

    Each campus has their own, but there’s also one for the entire system. The old one appears on my diploma. I hope admin isn’t planning to stick that butt-ugly thing on diplomas.

  6. Brent says:

    Thank you for passing this along. Fortunately, I saw it in time to avoid sending in my year-end check to the alumni giving campaign. Change it back if you ever want to see another dime of my money.

    Note: I am not opposed to change, but I am definitely opposed to change instigated by morons.

  7. michael reynolds says:

    It suggests a snake futilely chasing its tail. Kind of perfect in a way.

  8. EazieCheeze says:

    The article seems to confuse the logo with the seal (or what they call the “old logo”).

    Nonetheless, that’s a big bag of Web 2.0 vomit.

  9. Tylerh says:

    This youTube video explains what they were thinking.

    This is a new logo for the UC system. It replaces an even worse logo. I’ll post a copy when I find a decent link. The current logo is basically a two line “University of California” in a yellow font on a blue background. The UC Seal will remain in use and unchanged.

    The current logo causes confusion between the system and UC- Berkeley ( which was the original UC campus). The new logo solves the problem well: it says “UC ” without invoking any particular campus.

  10. John Burgess says:

    I think it both elegant and eloquent! It shows the UC system sinking under the waters of increasing tuition and taxation, finally dissolving into mediocrity. This, gentlemen, is Truth in Advertising!

  11. John Peabody says:

    I think the “C” looks like a spinning icon on a smart phone…. just loading…loading…loading…loading…

  12. Rob in CT says:

    @John Peabody:

    Likewise, I was thinking of the little “thinking” circle Windows 7 uses. Processing… processing… processing…

  13. Anderson says:

    Well, the blue is a toilet bowl.

    Got the “C” figured out now?

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Gotta give this to Anderson I think.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    I realize this is just a joke thread but I’m pretty sure UC is not getting increasing tax revenues and increasing tuition. They are getting decreasing tax revenues thereby causing increasing tuition.

  16. Tillman says:

    People get paid to design this stuff, that’s what always boggles my mind. And the designers always come up with enough symbolic bullshit about what it represents to make even metaphysicians blanch.

  17. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Tylerh: Like the ad. A little too long, but it does a good job of positioning the change. The logo? Don’t much care. I would expect that in a year or so people will get used to it and think it’s always been that way. Community memory in the States is short.

  18. LC says:

    It is ugly. Just plain and simple ugly. The blue is sick; the yellow is sicker. And the design – well, I don’t even like to think about what it looks like.

    It was created by an in-house design team formed 3 (!) years ago, and the explanation of its meaning that I read on one site suggests that the designers were not interested in how it appeared to we ordinary folk. They focused on the existential (add your own gobbleygook here) meaning.

  19. LC says:

    Pretty much the same dumb logic they used to move the Systemwide headquarters out of Berkeley to Oakland: because “too many people” confused the system’s administration with the Berkeley campus. (OK, fair is fair, town/gown issues and money, too.)

  20. al-Ameda says:

    What I don’t like about is: (1) it looks cheap and cheesy, like it was designed by Sanrio’s “Hello Kitty Marketing Team,” and (2) they probably paid a graphic designer $1,000,000 to come up with something I could have scratched together on my morning ride on the ferry from Larkspur Landing to San Francisco for 10% of the cost.

    Full disclosure: I am a graduate of the University of California.