Now Cal Poly Students Hate Their School's New (Expensive) Logo
At this point, has a university changed its logo and received positive feedback? You've got schools like University of South Florida, which tried to abandon their very-college-sports horned U logo in favor of something you'd see on a bank statement. USF students rightfully freaked out, and the university decided to abandon the logo, eating about $1 million in design costs. That's a ton of money, but you can't put a price on a positive brand identity, especially if you're trying to appeal to teenagers willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars at your institution.
While this was all happening, California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly for short) was probably sweating, because while USF students were raising hell in Florida, it was gearing up to unveil its new logo. It doesn't look like any existing financial institution's, but it does simplify the university's shield-like logo and modernizes the Latin motto to English.
Cal Poly spent $340,000 on a total brand overhaul, but some Cal Poly students are unhappy with the results and say the money was squandered. What do you think of the university's new logo? https://t.co/useLpNQinz pic.twitter.com/tF9YXNiLOR
— NewsChannel 12 (@KCOY) May 8, 2019
Folks, Cal Poly students weren't stoked.
According to the Mercury News, students complained that the updated version of the hammer and quill look too similar to the Soviet hammer and sickle, and the sunset image sort of rips off the Imperial Japanese flag.
Beyond their comparisons to old wartime enemies, students said the design, which was updated partially to look better on those small screens students can't take their eyes off of, was "lacking sophistication" and "tone deaf."
Oh, and it cost the school a measly $340,000—money that its critics argued could be better allocated throughout the San Luis Obispo campus.
Cal Poly student Drake Murphy started a Change.org petition to trash the new design in favor of the old one, and it already racked up about 7,300 signatures. The number is literally climbing as we write this. It was 7,273 when we started this paragraph. Now it's 7,279.
The Change.org petition says:
Cal Poly has just undergone a rebrand. It’s to the detriment of its students, alumni, and everyone else who is affiliated with the school. The new logo clearly has basic design flaws. It also arguably lacks professionalism and sophistication. Further, students were given almost no say in the matter of how we're symbolically represented.
Worse, it is yet another blatant example of an administration completely tone deaf to the needs of students. Instead of improving campus dining, removing fences in highly trafficked thoroughfares, or solving other simple problems, school administrators ostensibly spent $340,000 on a new logo that could have been designed by students for free or as part of a contest. It’s unrepresentative of the quality of the school. This logo makes us all look bad. If you sign this petition, hopefully we can raise enough awareness to change it back and stop further administrative waste.
Having students design something for free verges very close to the "we can't pay you, but this will offer you great exposure" nightmare so many creative types suffer through early in their careers. Murphy has a point, though—three hundred grand is a lot of money that could have been spent elsewhere.
Between this and the USF debacles, which turned out to be expensive to clean up, universities need to take notice. Students really do care about the aesthetic identity of their schools almost as much as they care about the academic experience. Students take pride in going out wearing their school colors, going back to their hometowns to show off their fancy new sweatshirts representing their highfalutin college lifestyle, and recognizing the seal after graduation so they can know which pieces of mail to throw away. (I'm not giving you any more of my money, Temple!)
The least these colleges can do is ask their student body for some input in the new logo. If that means that they spend money somewhere else and don't create a new logo right now, so be it. It's better than making a million dollar mistake.