Friday, August 12, 2011

I thank my lucky stars for our brand new logo

I thought I was done for the day--or even, with luck, for the week.  But precisely at the moment when one wheels out bad news stories (didn't she ask her marketers about this?), our Chancellor has written a welcome back email that spends a good deal of time discussing her new marketing campaign but wastes not a single word on stalled negotiations between her administration and the unions representing thousands of the people receiving her email.

Even if you think the unions are full of it, that they don't represent you, that everyone in the FA is a complete jackass--don't you think she ought to have made at least some passing bland aside expressing her fond hopes to resolve these issues amicably?  Isn't it, well, contemptuous to pretend that there's no problem?

Our brave new branding campaign has its own website, and of course there is a brand new logo, which is "both sophisticated yet familiar" and which is, I believe, the third we've had since I joined SIUC in the late nineties (though I may have missed one or two).

In with the new.

Out with the old.


Apparently "Southern" reeked too much of Walter Wendler to be left as is, and clearly Carbondale has been demoted.  I think our counterparts at the flourishing SIU campus, SIUE, will be pleased as punch to see that we're claiming the shorter SIU solely for ourselves (as the Chancellor repeatedly says she is speaking for SIU, not SIUC).  Apparently those little white shadows in the SIU tell our new story. And the bell tower, which reminded people of stodgy old academic stuff, had to go.

And can't someone fix her damn apostrophes?

Just one more observation. I find it particularly rich that we are all encouraged to join in "critical conversations" about our strategic plan (the effort to revamp or replace Southern at 150), which is obviously still underway.  But our marketers are ready to tell our story even before we've decided what our story is. (Not that I take the strategic planning to be any more valuable than the marketing, but still.)

Okay, enjoy your new logo.


  1. Whatever the Administration, especially the Chancellor does, you're outraged by it Dave. Remember her invitation to the Convocation?

  2. Anonymous is right that outrage doesn't seem to be attached to anything in particular on this post, except a general dislike of the chancellor and a general like of proper punctuation. Heck, you missed that she threw you a bone by reminding us of "our New Student Convocation" with no capital O and no C-word.

    I can find reason for outrage in the Brand Information Page that pretends the costs for the change are minimal. Nope, Lipman Hearne's time doesn't cost over a half million dollars. Nope, Webmasters' time doesn't cost anything. Nope, replacing letterhead if you don't use it up before the deadline won't hurt your department's already stretched budget. Nope, replacing signs on campus won't mean that other kinds of maintenance are deferred.

    On a lighter note, I'm starting a rumor that Lipman Hearne has recommended the university replace Brown Dawg and Grey Dawg with a Scarecrow and a Tin Man, so everyone will remember, "SIU has all the brains of a nationally ranked research university without losing the heart of a small college."

  3. Dave:
    You did miss a few logos. I think this is the 6th logo in the last 10 years. Just a reminder; Goldman also came up with a new logo. I hate the new logo. It looks similar to the one we had 20 years ago. Cheng and Nicklow want to move us away from the party school image (whatever that means) but picked a logo which reminds us about that time. Sheer wastage of tax payers’ money and students’ fee. How can Poshard allow this kind of wastage while approving pay cuts for employees? May God bless SIUC.

  4. "And can't someone fix her damn apostrophes?"

  5. My foot that this won't cost money. Last time we did this, we had throw out all of the stationary and start over. Given how desperate everyone thinks our budget situation is, this seems terribly wasteful.

    And...what was the specific problem with the old logo exactly? Ignoring the issue of cost for a minute, aren't there better things for them to be doing? Seriously. If we had some reason to believe that the problems at the university were related to the last "new logo", then this wouldn't be an issue. But, where is the evidence that the old logo was a problem, let alone an important problem.

  6. Could they have at least kept consistent with the font styles? The logo has both a serifed font and a sanserif in the same logo. Not real attractive in my opinion. How about we incorporate some real historical artistry and keep the architectural image, and some tradition and include "Deo Volente." Ah, but who am I but one alumnus (BA, Classics, '96), a proverbial drop of water....

    Tracey Lane

  7. OMG, OMG, what else can one say for the depth and breath of the ignorance and blatant disregard for esthetics and resources

    A concerned Alumni

  8. Aesthetics and tastes aside, the current rebranding effort may or may not be wasteful. It will be a waste if it costs more than the dollars it will bring in through increased revenues (especially via enrollment). That is a gamble, admittedly, but only time will tell if it will pay off. In the private sector they call that an investment decision. Advertizing would not exist as an industry if it cost more than the increased revenues for the producers/providers of the product/service being advertized, but last time I had time to watch TV or read a magazine, advertizing seemed to be alive and well.

    Its cost is unrelated to last fiscal year's furloughs (it was not done last year) and since there does not appear to be any call for furloughs or layoffs this fiscal year arguments tying the two together seem to be mute. Remember that there is lots of data showing that we are still labeled as a "party school", even though that label has not applied for many years. Some effort to shed that stigma and get the word out about the high quality education and research and scholarship efforts that go on here at SIU seems to worth while.

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  11. Paranoid seems to be having a tough afternoon :-)

  12. "Its cost is unrelated to last fiscal year's furloughs (it was not done last year)..."

    Lipman Hearne was already working with the university last fall.

    The payment for their work in Jan. - June made in May, according to the Board of Trustees.

    As far as I can tell, the costs are in both fiscal years.

  13. Sorry - I'm posting while agitated and then noticing typos or claims that need links to document that I'm not making things up, hence all the deletes and reposts.

  14. Case in point, I should have written "...was made in May..."

    My link gathering wasn't really necessary.
    The Southern does one better by putting the amounts (if I understand correctly) at $1.5 million for FY11 and $950,000 for FY12 plus the amounts that will be absorbed across campus to implement the logo and design changes for new departmental materials.

  15. Unrolling a new logo on this scale is incredibly expensive, and especially untimely since the university just spent the last few years investing in new signs in front of every building on campus and those giant stone-wall signs at several locations around Carbondale. Does their re-branding initiative include a budget and timeline to replace those signs, since an integral part of branding is brand-consistency (especially when those signs are the first representation of the SIU brand visible on campus)? Not to mention costs (as mentioned above) of reprinting stationary, signage, banners, merchandise, all web presences, etc...

    Aside from monetary costs of issuing a new logo, I sure hope their marketing campaign includes more than just a logo and the message that SIU makes big things within reach for it's students. Any school should have that message. That it's a top-ranked research institute without the commotion of the big city is alluring to some, but Carbondale really sucks as a small town and doesn't have that "heart of the Midwest" appeal they allude to on the branding page. I think to really overcome the "misperceptions" of Carbondale being a party school, the city needs to work at providing more opportunities than partying to recreate (Ok, I do outdoor things instead of the Strip, but I'm talking about those who don't). The Strip and downtown are very stagnated and don't universally appeal to students, residents, and families, or provide any cohesion which gives opportunities to want to roam from one business to another (bar hopping for a few hours a night a few days a week doesn't count). Students often default to house parties, which doesn't generate revenue or business-sector loyalty, and only makes neighborhoods less appealing to live as a non-student (more tax-paying) resident. SIU marketing won't generate a lasting solution to enrollment - only an effort to enrich the city with (non-academic) areas of value and broad appeal will actually make people want to LIVE there. SIU/Carbondale should be working with urban planners to create a realistic, comprehensive, and multi-faceted plan for re-development...not just a media blitz to say "we're not who you think we are" - because we still are.

  16. .....
    To take my tangent back to the new logo - and it's actual design - does it follow the basics of what makes a good logo? It is simple? Memorable? Timeless? Versatile? Appropriate? The actual "logo" (just the red SIU) is fine I guess. Nothing special, but it works and will be remembered through consistent repetition. UIC does something similar, but I think their's is cleaner and more memorable. Why not use the SIU crest though? It has always been there, always will be used in one way or another, and says "distinguished" much more than a slightly altered standard font. The ivy league schools use their crests for their logo, so why not ride on the coat-tails of what is perceived as the best? As for the "logo-type," the part that says "Southern Illinois University Carbondale," the leading is bad, the hierarchy is of poor proportion to the logo, the center justification and use of a Times-New-Roman look-alike font is amateur, and the sample SIU book cover they show on the brand page doesn't even use it! Brand is about consistency people.

    Message to the SIU administrators: Acknowledge endemic problems of the school and community. Also look for bright-spots and how those can be replicated or used as templates for improvement. You can't pretend that students are moving to SIU...they are moving to Carbondale. Invest in urban planners to show you case studies of relevant, successful projects they have undertaken and provide them with university and city resources to actually follow-though on an action plan for improvement. And just because a person is in a position of higher-authority, they can't necessarily be entrusted to make final decisions on matters outside their expertise (i.e. sophomore Communication Design students are more qualified on final approval of the SIU logo than the Chancellor).

    Good luck.

    - Recent SIU grad and everyday observer of the Peter Principle at work

  17. The Tower logo wasn't really unique to SIU. Most Universities have a clock tower. The bigger picture is that the marketing is more to do with projecting the same message, one that gets students to notice, and hopefully increases enrollment. I think the new Content Management System coming will do that. Every website on campus will look nearly the same. I guess that has been delayed.

    The tower was hard to put on websites and it wasn't allowed to just use the tower, you also had to include the "Southern Illinois University Carbondale". So, why have the tower at all? Did it stand for academics? Maybe, maybe not. Would people see the tower and think of SIUC? No. Not like the I column that the U of Illinois has.

    I don't mind the new logo... however I don't think it will last. I would rather we use the Athletic department SIU everywhere as it doesn't have the mentioned font clashes and is small enough to use anywhere.

    Use the Athletic Department SIU and put Carbondale underneath it... use it everywhere.

  18. Yes, I don't mind the new logo. I do like that it doesn't have the "C" at the end and that may b/c I'm from Southern Illinois. We were the original SIU and it should be that way. I do like the new moto, "SIU has all the brains of a nationally-ranked research university with all the heart of a small college."

  19. Anonymous (11:54 PM):

    I like the slogan too. (I'm not calling it a motto because Deo volente is the official motto.) I'm annoyed that the university is spending so much money on the logo and on the changes that the logo will cause. Those changes are a distraction from the mission of the university. Instead of focusing on the promise made in the slogan, the focus is on the logo.


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