Archive for Tuesday, May 17, 2005

KU has designs on new logo

Feedback sought on styles old, new — as long as they’re blue

May 17, 2005


Let the debate begin.

Kansas University on Monday unveiled four finalists to become the university's new official logo and began seeking comment to determine a winner, which is expected to become the official KU symbol for decades.

All four simply have the letters "KU" in different typefaces, arranged slightly different.

KU students Molly Wells and Erin Bakersmith were glad to add their two cents Monday afternoon during a break in studying.

"I think they're all pretty boring, except for the second one," Bakersmith said, referring to a design KU officials call "The Hill."

Wells agreed.

"(The letters) flow together," she said. "I like how they work together more."

The new logo is part of the integrated marketing campaign under way at the university, which aims to organize visual identity, recruiting, public outreach and state funding efforts. The university already announced it would use royal blue and crimson for its official colors, shying away from the navy blue used in some cases.

The four designs -- all using that royal blue -- were posted early Monday at By mid-afternoon, more than 725 people already had logged on to give their critique of each logo. The designs will be available on the site for comment during the next two weeks.

KU hired LandreyMorrow, a Portland, Ore., firm, to hold focus groups and gather other comments during the past few months to create candidates for the new logo, which KU officials plan to use on letterheads, business cards, research proposals, university cars, signs, athletic uniforms and everywhere else the letters "KU" appear. The firm will receive $88,900 in privately donated funds for its work.

No 'slam-dunk' landmark

David Johnston, KU's director of marketing, said those working on the new logo considered using a more graphic illustration, such as a rendering of the Campanile, in the logo. But ultimately, he said, the Campanile was a good symbol for the Lawrence campus that didn't apply as well to the Medical Center or Edwards campuses.

"A lot of universities have a slam-dunk landmark," Johnston said. "KU didn't have a slam-dunk landmark."

Michael Morrow, chief creative officer with LandreyMorrow, said designers also considered using sunflowers, stars, flags and other icons in the logos.

In the end, he said he thought the four finalists -- and especially the ones called "Trajan" and "Goudy," which are names of typefaces -- represented the traditional American university but also would work for all three KU campuses.

"I think they're pretty much traditional university logos, with a slightly modern tweak," he said.

The most distinctly different of the four is one called "The Hill," which has part of the "K" swooping down to resemble Campanile hill, where the university has its commencement exercises.

"From our discussions," Morrow said, "the hill is the most revered area of campus."

After the two-week public comment period, Johnston said senior administrators would gather in June and select a winning logo. Then, LandreyMorrow, Johnston and others will write a set of rules by which the new logo, Campanile, university seal and other icons will be used.

Merchandise options

One area yet to be determined is how the new logo could affect KU merchandise. Johnston said he didn't know whether KU would put a limit on the typefaces allowed on shirts, hats or other items.

"We're not ready to make that decision yet," he said.

Count the managers of Jock's Nitch Sporting Goods, 837 Mass., among those who hope the university doesn't limit merchandise options.

"You can find 15 different KUs on hats," said Ryan Owens, the store's manager. "From a retail perspective, some people like this KU and not that KU."

Staff writer Joel Mathis contributed information to this report.

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