The New York Post reported one year ago that the Brooklyn College spent over $100,000 to replace the logo because of what it looked like.
“After the new, text-only logo was created,” the Post reported, “the college also published a 29-page ‘Visual Identity System’ with exacting standards on how it should be used.” A year later, I’ve had some opportunities to actually use the new visual identity system. I think it’s pretty awesome, and I’d like to explain why.
A visual identity system is a collection of rules that describe the correct way to use a brand’s colors and logos. Visual identity is a core part marketing, and ultimately defines how people perceive your marketing materials. It’s definitely worth $107,000 if you’re a large company or a university.
These guidelines often say things like “keep a margin of x inches around our logo” or use this color when writing our name. Although these rules seem restrictive, they actually make it easier for designers to with logos and brand marks, because they take the guesswork out of including those graphics in your marketing materials.
Generally speaking, this ensures that whatever employees produce for a company looks and feels like it comes from that company. Third parties that run events in conjunction with a business, for example, can correctly identify co-sponsors on flyers and t-shirts being distributed.
Brooklyn College isn’t the first to publish guidelines on how to correctly use its branding. Many companies do it. Apple has guidelines for how to use their product images in app marketing. There’s a separate page for App Store badges. Github explains the correct way to use their logo on websites that may link back to them.
Brooklyn College isn’t even the first university to develop a visual identity system either. Searching Google for “university visual identity” returns over ten million results. Georgetown, Wisconsin, Indiana, Rutgers, and the list goes on.
Several reports available online quote the post and pick on the fact that the President Gould is said to have thought the old logo looked phallic. Those reports totally miss the point. Sure, the school administration may have decided to change the logo on a whim, but what they got out of the process was something much more useful.
The guide is available on Brooklyn College’s website.