University of San Francisco has had the same logo design for two decades now. Gee, you think it might be time for a change? Indeed, the change in logo comes with a new brand and a new logo design.
We write all the time about changes in academic logos. In general, the genre is just not that great. They tend to be blocky and awkward, with school colors that were out of style when your dad went to school there and a generally generic feeling.
The new USF logo design is a refreshing change. This logo is simply good. It features the name of the school in very simple lettering, with an image that is bright and interesting. The school colors are used, but they are executed in a way that does not detract from the university’s professional brand.
A little about the image: USF is actually a Jesuit school, as in Roman Catholic, so using a cross in the logo design makes sense. The old logo used a cross as well, albeit a more obvious one. In addition, the cross is made up of arrows pointing to both the interior and exterior of the image, which represents the exchange of knowledge. If you look at the image without focusing on the cross or the arrows, it feels like a diamond or a star—something bright and shiny. In all, this image does a lot of communication in a small and succinct package, which is every logo designer’s goal.
The university has also introduced a new tagline: Change the world from here. USF, like many Catholic universities, has a long history of advocating for social change and progressive values, so this tagline is an apt representative of the school.
The old logo was plain, blocky and overly religious, with nothing to differentiate the brand from any other religious school. It felt like a seminary logo, while University of San Francisco is anything but.
One other thing I really like about this logo design: It uses the full name of the university. Sure, most people in the community know it as USF, but there are actually several different universities with this same acronym and even a few businesses. Using the full name reduces confusion and saves you from wondering why the University of Southern Florida has a cross in their logo.
The USF acronym has not been abandoned; you can still call the school by its old name. In fact, there are several different versions of this logo design, as is typical in the academic field. The acronym will still be displayed on sweatshirts and other school paraphernalia.
As we said before, academic logos can be depressing. Most of them are so poorly crafted, not so much because of the designer but because of the demands of the field. Colleges seem to prefer the clunky, traditional logos, and a designer in the end must make their client happy. However, those facts make this logo design stand out even more as an example of how good academic logo design can be just plain good design.