News and Analysis

Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012 9:26 p.m.

Long-awaited logo met with a pause

University President Steven Knapp introduces the newly designed logos Sunday, bowing his head not to block the view for the more than 700 students in the crowd. Ashley Lucas | Contributing Photo Editor

Hundreds of students – mainly freshmen, according to a impromptu poll by University President Steven Knapp as he addressed the crowd – packed into the Grand Ballroom Sunday to watch the University unveil a long-awaited new logo.

The first 700 students to arrive snagged seats in the overcrowded room, while hundreds more mobbed the lobby and third floor terrace.

At about 8 p.m., three versions of the new logo splashed across the top of a pixelated screen, revealing it publicly for the first time.

The audience paused, holding back reaction. Students’ hesitation seemed to indicate a question rippling through the room: “Is that it?”

Four speakers, including Vice President of External Relations Lorraine Voles, introduced the design, calling it a shame that more students could not fit into the room. The launch event was moved to the ballroom – which Voles said was the largest space available –  earlier that day due to rain.

She said the University planned to provide food for about 300 people, but just minutes after the doors opened, the 700-person ballroom filled to capacity. She estimated about 800 people showed up.

University Police Department officers filtered into the Marvin Center as the crowd grew, making sure the event kept up with emergency codes.

Voles called the student reaction to the new logo positive.

“Free food, free t-shirts and a movie,” she said. “They loved it.”

As students got up from their seats and wrangled their way over to a table of empanadas, Cap Mac and tater tots, the reviews began.

“I don’t really find it that revolutionary,” said freshman Katie Cann, while another freshman attendee, Ellie Davis, said, “For the hype, it really isn’t worth it.”

What do you think of the new logo? Tell us in the comments.

– Julie Alderman, Kierran Petersen and Chloe Sorvino contributed to this report.

  • a

    GW students are apathetic about everything.

  • Truly Sensible American

    What the hell were people expecting? I mean c’mon, it’s a logo. How exciting can it get??

  • george

    Apathetic? There was an overflow crowd!

  • CBlair

    This new logo has to be a joke. Hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a set of logos that the art department could have made in a day??

    This logo set actually makes me ashamed to declare im an alumni. If you demand the best from your students why not demand to get more for your dollar from whatever ad agency handled this? Of course the reviews from the mostly freshman were positive. They received free tshirts and food. Isnt that what every organization does on campus to get a good crowd?

    I hope that GW makes a concerted effort to at least re-evaluate the block GW logo. How about designing a logo that students will at least have some input on instead of giving it the old GW administrative steamroll that has already destroyed so much of the student experience on campus.

  • Makuch

    yay, they spent my tuition to find out that Sans Serif fonts are a thing….

  • alum

    I love it. It gives our university a more modern look and feel and as an alum, I am very proud that the portrait was created by one of us!

  • alum

    I love the more modern look and feel for the university. As an alum, I am so proud that the new portrait was designed by one of us.

  • Student

    I agree wiht CBlair. If I hired a marketing firm to come up with a logo, and they handed me this – I would reach across the table and slap them.

  • Joe the student

    It’s not apathy if there’s nothing to get excited about it. The images are, on the whole, unchanged. The fonts are simpler block letters, the colors have been mellowed, and the portrait is borderline cartoonish. The university’s goal here, as I see it, is to create a simpler, more accessible image of GW. However, I don’t know how effective, or even appropriate that goal has been. Why simplify?

    A university is not a product to sell, though some see it that way, it is a goal, an achievement. No one strives for pretentious catchphrases and Helvetica. Instead of general statements of the wonder the university and how its students can “run the world,” perhaps the administration should be spreading stories of specific achievements and sharing tangible goals.

    Maybe there’s been a disconnect between the university and the people who run it. Maybe the university’s old fashioned, typewritten logos and yellowed out portrait were a more fitting image of a university.

  • New Grad Student

    It’s very underwhelming. It doesn’t look distinguished enough for the university it is supposed to represent.

    On a side note, free food meant I showed up at 6:55 pm, only to find none left. Okay, no biggie, they could only bring so much food. BUT, when a friend of mine arrives 20 minutes later with 3 vouchers in hand (“They started giving out more right when I came!”), that’s just annoying. Poor planning and not the best first impression!

  • nelly

    this is the reason gwu sucks. a bunch of assholes who have too much money wasting it on frivolous shit, just like everyone else in dc. i’m disgusted to call myself an alumnus.

  • Scott

    Hahaha some board member’s son or daughter just made a lot of money for their first Illustrator project

  • Corey

    CBlair is exactly right. The University replaced a portrait of George Washington with a cartoon and bubble letters. The old logo looked professional. This one looks like we’re trying to be the hip new university using a cool new font. It’s a total embarrassment.

    Hey GW how about you spend the money you wasted on this and address the things students have had issues with for years? Student dining, a REAL Gelman renovation (not just one that makes it look good for tours), improved academic advising, etc. etc. etc. The students should be priority number one but sadly they’re far from that. It’s all about image. Sad.

  • george

    The new picture is good. But I’m not sure about the font. I like the old font. Can we have the new picture with the old font?

  • Ed

    As a marketing professional, I find it very troubling that GW has felt compelled to change its wordmarks and imagery twice in the past 15 years. The problems with the existing previous marks should have been uncovered as those marks were being developed. I agree with the sentiment, expressed on here, that the money spent on these marks is outrageous. It disturbingly fits a pattern of a university that for years has wasted money recklessly on things that provide little value and have no connection to providing an education. While having attractive and adaptable marks is a legitimate goal, and worthy of an investment, I, too, would reach across the table and slap the consulting firm that presented these to me. Or, better yet, the administrators who approved them.

  • Sally

    New logo and visual identity a huge improvement. A change was absolutely necessary, as the old one looked seriously outdated. Nice job.

  • DC GOP Girl

    Wow, that’s totally awful.

  • D. Tom Gadsden

    @Sally: The old one looked outdated? It was from the 90s… The school would’ve been better off with 500k to not screw over students on scholarship money

  • Jacob

    Corey hit the nail on the head; the waste of student dollars shows the true lack of attention to real student needs. Not only is the amount spent on the media companies a problem when students could have done the project (or the massive marketing team GW employs), but with all the new signage you can assume that hundreds of thousands more will be spent just to present the new images. If GW wants to put its money where its mouth is, the administration should incorporate students into real projects, not dictate from the top down. As a student who talks to many fellow students routinely across the gambit of student life, I’ve heard few acceptances of the new logo. Most highly prefer the regalness of the former image to the childishness of the new. While it may convey “innovation,” GW students want to be taken seriously. Between the silly phrases to accompany the logo and the informality of the logo itself, the new image is a punch line. If the administration is not careful it will alienate the alumni and current students. Of course there was a massive rush with all the free merchandise GW offered, but when people come just for the food and leave so as to not see the logo, it is hard to call that a success for the image.

  • Truly Sensible American

    I’m glad my comment couldn’t be published. Thanks.

  • Hugo Scheckter

    It’s just a logo. No matter how bad or good it is, it doesn’t make any difference. Nobody is going to come here because of it, or not come because of it. It sucks, but it means basically nothing in the long term. $500,000 of nothing.

  • Maximilien R.

    What really is sad is the fact that…wait..nevermind no one will read this.

  • GWU Joke

    Well I guess this is what half of a million will get you these days! This University is nothing but a business pretending to be a school! A contest to challenge students to design a logo with a scholarship prize would have been cheaper and produced more quality results! CEO Knapp you are a joke just like your President title…..You should have given some crayons to your dog on the plane ride to the Olympics it could have doodled us something nice! Keep buying more property and label your business, the one thing this place isn’t is a school.

  • Alum ’10

    I have to say, I am very disappointed with the new logo. We were promised a bold new approach, that would vault GW into the future. Well, this appears to not be a new logo at all. At most, I would call it a redesign of the last logo. A change of font. A stylistic difference.

    The new portrait is a nice change. It is a change because it is different, refreshing, and new. I wish the same could be said for the rest of the logo.

    I find the new font to be more of the same. While it may look better digitally, that is the only place it does. It loses the elegance and prestige of the most recent logo. Personally, I do not think this font shows a bold approach.

    I also fail to see the necessity of emphasizing “The” and “University” as much as “George Washington”. Every university has the word “University” in it, so why use the same prominence as “George Washington” within the logo?

    Instead of a “bold new look”, we got a small stylistic change. GW is not “making history” with this logo. It is barely scratching the surface.

  • Jared

    I think it’s great that George is now looking to the future, instead of to the past. Because its a graphic it’ll be much easier to maintain fidelity when printing on different colors, in different sizes, and even on the web. The word marks are way clearer now, and can actually be read when plastered on a podium at events like graduation. The thing I’m most looking forward to is standardization! I don’t think people realize how much wasted time and energy was going into using our branding correctly by a bunch of independent and disparate groups at GWU, lots of times you’d end up with a mishmash of official and unofficial styles and it didn’t look good at all. The images unveiled yesterday are only one part of a complete standardization, and control, over the GW visual identity. Much needed!

  • Derek R.

    Considering the hype over this I expected much more. It is the same format as before, there was no thinking outside the box on this one, literally. The computerized George bust while cool and trendy now, does not reflect in the slightest the years of history surrounding the university nor the legacy of our first president. An outline of George would have proved more interesting and different, without the shaded box around him. Also, I would have suggested creating our own font. Breakaway from this three lined box format. I was an art student at GW and I knew so many artist that given the chance could have created something far more innovative than this sorry attempt of sleek and modern.

  • Kathryn

    It’s growing on me. I’m giving it a chance. I like seeing it in context on the homepage.

  • Disappointed

    If the “identity” that GW is going for is amateur, then they reached their goal. I wouldn’t want my potential employers going to the GW website and seeing that awful logo of George with that jaw. And HOW MUCH did they spend o n this?! GW has so much potential. They need a complete overhaul of management; especially university relations and the media/communications departments.

  • Paul, alum

    The university recently spent several years redesigning the website, after having the same one since the invention of the internet. The website and GW logos were perfect for about 2 years. Now we have this embarrassment. Quit these childish graphics, fonts, and poor marketing campaigns. Revert the website. If you want to become a more prestigious university, can’t you tell how undignified and poor these graphics are? I almost didn’t come to the school because of the poor website in 2008.

    Having left the school, I’ve learned about the poor services and lack of concern about its students (except faculty). The administration and those who aren’t in academics at the university only care about themselves and in doing as little work as possible. And wasting students’ tuition, of course! The only thing decent about this school is academics…the rest is a total embarrassment.

    I would have been better off at NYU or BC. For the extra few thousand dollars, at least I would have went to a school that doesn’t seem like a for profit online non-accredited university.

    Please swallow your pride and scrap these poor designs. Whoever approved this needs to go.

  • Georgey

    Comments keep bringing up the price of this rebranding. It’s important to realize that the logo suite is but a small piece of the puzzle. A lot more goes into a rebranding than what you saw at the unveiling.

  • Loyal To GW

    The people who worked on this project deserve our commendation and support. The new visual identity is a step forward. Thank you External Relations and all of the folks across the University who worked on this. At the end of the day, a community that supports one another is the only thing that matters.

  • a senior

    Regardless of what it could have looked like, the reaction would have been the same. Its just a logo, no amount of money spent would have been enough to ‘pleasantly surprise’ people with a logo.

  • dubalum

    I am very disappointed. I find the George head disturbing—it looks like a robot—and the wordmark is unattractive and uninspired. In my view the whole package fails to represent membership in the cadre of academic institutions that I thought GW was striving to be a part of.

  • Tom

    Why not allow a student who can’t afford to go here anymore help design the logo as a way of keeping her at the university instead of forcing her to transfer? Someone’s nephew or niece or son or daughter on the board just made a lottt of mula

  • Carole

    I really hate the new logo — cold, stiff, triangulated lines. The old logo had warmth to it. This is very offputting to say the least. It communicates arrogance in my view — again, stark, severe angles with not a stitch of warmth and welcoming to it. Hate it.

  • CDS

    Love the new logo. Very with the times and George looks stronger than he did in the previous logo. I think one of the real reasons people are upset is because the previous logo made GW look more traditional and “smarter” – kind of like Georgetown. But GW isn’t Georgetown, we don’t have their tradition or academic profile and so, as silly as it sounds, a serif font really doesn’t explain us. The dichotomy here is kind of like the difference in Columbia and NYU’s branding. We are more the NYU of DC, and our public image should reflect that if you want a truly urban college experience that is integrated in the moving and shaking scene of DC, GW is the place to be. While the previous logo is more regal, GW isn’t regal. We are cutting edge, and this logo has edges.

    Re: financing. I think this was a wise investment. Yes, we could have just thrown this project to the art department, but they aren’t professional consultants. I wouldn’t trust art undergrads or even professors to predict how the public would perceive GW with a particular logo. Think of it as an insurance policy – you have to pay people who do this for a living a good sum to get good advice, and GW’s public image is worth it.

    I never really understood how anyone who made the decision to go to GW could ever complain about how they spend money. Hellllooooo…. it’s GW.

  • Junior

    The old logo that represented GW was very recognizable. When I went home I was recognized and absolutely raved about my school. This new logo has given me mixed feelings. I feel as though it would have been better for a statue but I miss my old Buff AND Blue and the emblem that would have originally been printed on my diploma. I completely understand the hard work that was put into this new design but all trends fade. We pride ourselves on being a distinguished top university, so I believe we should be proud of our original logo. After all I don’t see the Ivy Leagues mutating their logos into statues. Also…can we please at least elongate his nose a little and make his head the appropriate shape for a human being? I know there are some men with chiseled jaws but I agree with CBlair…poor George’s face is a little on the harsh cartoon side.

  • Ed

    I commented earlier and lambasted this output, but I have to slightly back-tread on my attack. It 1) appears that the actual amount spent is in question, and 2) the full spectrum of the deliverables is unclear. If a detailed branding guide with clear mark use instructions, and a broad set of design tools to assist in the production and oversight of university creative development (especially for both external and student use) was delivered, that is an essential tool for managing branding, and would be worthy of a substantial investment. Such tools can, however, find that the devil lies in the details. I don’t care at all for the marks, I think they look cheap, but if a full branding tool was delivered, the full value can only be assessed by how ably it assists both student and external communications – and that will take a while to assess.

  • Pingback: Vox Populi » GW introduces new logo, looks better with IMAX 3D glasses

  • M

    @CDS: I wouldn’t trust art undergrads or even professors to predict how the public would perceive GW with a particular logo.”
    Anyone with a professional background in art or design would have AMPLE understanding of how the public would react to a piece of art. They literally study it. Design, particularly of logos, is all about selling a clear and purposeful concept.

    Second, this design is just bad. Anyone with an eye for aesthetics can see that. Yes, it’s modern and will translate to the web, but it makes GW look like an online university. Personally, I think any of the professors or upper level students in the art department could have done a better job. If Knapp/the board is going for modern, simple, and web compatible, a simple and classic profile of George would have been better. What has been produced looks fake and cartoon-ish.

    I personally feel that it will have a negative impact on GW’s reputation as a respectable institution, and may even turn off some prospective students. In their preliminary research, most high school students rule out school based simply on the images and information they find on the Internet or the university’s website. If this had been GW’s logo when I was applying for schools, I can truthfully say I would not have believed it was a top-50 school.

    Overall, I believe the entire redesign was done wastefully and without taste.

  • 09 Alum

    The new picture looks like a cartoon. The mark does not convey the image of a serious, academic university. I preferred the old logo. While it was traditional, as an alum I’m not concerned with GW being cool and hip, I’m more concerned about GW’s ranking and that others take GW seriously as a strigent academic university. The university needs to spend money on improving cirriculum, student services and facilities (GELMAN!), not image!

  • GW Student

    It’s terrible. I hate the new logo. Looks like he has a double chin. Horrible, horrible.

  • Kwame

    The new picture of Washington’s almost got a cartoon-Stalin look it. And the new font looks like it was written by a third-grader on his dad’s computer.

    Man, can’t this university stop screwing up? There are so many things at GW that are so much better than they used to be. Instead of building on those successes, the administration devotes resources to making a change that nobody asked for (no matter what cock and bull story party-line they may try to serve about disparate brands among different groups (never accompanied by any concrete examples)), and this is the result of all that putative hard work. What garbage.

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