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Originally posted March 11 2006 at 14:03 under General. 0 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 24 March 2006 at 01:01

Mother, Is That You?

Gateshead (near Newcastle!)

My alma mater (well one of them), The University of Newcastle still values my opinion it seems (despite the fact that the department which gave me my degree no longer exists :-( ). They pinged an email my way asking for comments on their proposed Corporate Visual Identity (CVI). You can see the proposals outlined in the questionnaire (closing date for responses is March 20, not sure if that page will be up after then). In short they propose changing the name (except for a few formal things) to Newcastle University and producing a new logo to appear everywhere (it’s mainly which logo one considers best which is being asked about). I thought, partly for my own record, I’d record my response here (well, the additional comments anyway—I think it may have been longer than they were expecting, given the size of the comments box).

Whilst the updating of the identity to a simple “Newcastle University” is justifiable in order to modernise image, and logical given that this is how the University is generally referred to, I do feel it is important to maintain the more formal version. The University of Newcastle Upon Tyne is a phrase reflective of the University’s history and, to my ears at least, suggest a greater amount of prestige than the bland University of Newcastle. It should be noted that in international situations it also serves as a ready way to distinguish from the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Moving onto branding, Option 2 immediately sseems very dull and boring, failing to reflect the vibrancy of the University. It also seems unlikely that this identity would clearly stand out and serve its purpose of identification in a number of situations. Option 3 I object to based on the lack of University crest. The crest of the University can in many instances form a useful shorthand and maintains an important link with the history of the University and its previous branding incarnations. Option 1 would therefore be my preferred choice of the three offered. I must comment however that it does seem a somewhat boring and cliched design. I would have hoped that in a rebranding the University could have proposed something a little more inventive than a standard crest and two typeface name! The frankly bizarre serif on the t of University (which loops to form the dot of the i) seems to be almost an admittance that something needs to be done to liven things up.

The sub-branding seems to offer little in the way of choice; either have an addition of “Newcastle University” or not. One might question what is so wrong with the traditional method of including either a small version of the full identity (rather than just the words) or a simple crest? Perhaps the identification could have been better combined with the informative phrase “A part of Newcastle University”.

In conclusion it appears to me that none of these are bad branding identities. I also feel that none of them out stand out identities either. In an environment with an seemingly ever increasing number of universities it is important to distinguish from the crowd. The University is missing a chance to do that here.

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This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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