Is Good Enough Really Good Enough?


Educational logo design is a huge business. After all, there is a reason that most of us would rather go to Brown than to Chico State, and the price tag is certainly not it. We perceive a college based on its marketing, branding and sports. Logo design probably cannot help you with your favorite college team’s football scores, but it is an important part of marketing and branding. We tend to assume that a more famous college is academically better, but there are many notable failures from Harvard and, I’m sure, great successes from Chico State.

Because of this, we are seeing an increasing number of colleges and other academic institutions adopt new logos to build a brand that will rally their community, invite students to apply and also inspire more alumni donations. Southern Illinois University Carbondale is one of these. You have probably never heard of SIU Carbondale, as the university is colloquially known, but it is important to the people who work and study there. Thanks to a step in the right branding direction, you might be hearing of it soon.

The old logo featured a clock tower, one that is meant to represent a building on campus but really could represent any clock tower, anywhere. It is framed to bring attention to the image and placed next to the name of the university in typically academic rounded lettering with serifs. One major issue is that the way the writing is placed makes you perceive ‘Southern Carbondale’ as the nickname, when in fact this is not the case.

The new logo design for the university uses the nickname in similar letters, but with a little beveling thrown in. The university name to the left is written in the same rounded font used in the old logo, but all in the same size this time. Carbondale is still a part of the logo, which is important because SIU has more than one location, but it is placed in very small, plain letters below. The school colors, which were the palette for the old logo, remain an important part of the design.

This new logo is very plain, but it is collegiate, with a look that we would expect to see on a college sweatshirt or other academic accessory. It just feels like a college logo, and this time they got the nickname right. It is an image that both prospective and current students can easily associate with the school.

On the other hand, it is a little cliché and lacks that instant recognition factor, not to mention that it is just plain bland. We cannot help but wonder if this is a missed opportunity; so much could have been done to build a unique and recognizable logo design. It certainly is an improvement, but is it enough of an improvement?

Logo design for schools and other academic institutions is possible; we have seen some great designs in this genre. Working with a professional logo designer is the first step toward a great brand, whether you are interested in a traditional logo design or something more modern.