The University spent two years fine-tuning its logo in a rebranding campaign that culminated Sunday evening with an unveiling ceremony in the Marvin Center.
A brand – especially a logo – must be strong enough to serve as an institution’s singular identity. A rebranding campaign is not an everyday undertaking. The last time GW touched its visual identity was in 2002. A logo must withstand time and represent a school with diverse interests and people.
The logo released Sunday quite frankly was not a reflection of a university looking to move up in the world of higher education and level itself with prestigious institutions.
It is disappointing that the new logo and rebranding effort, led by two high-profile marketing companies, sacrifices sophistication and ultimately looks cheap.
We were looking for a logo to represent an institution trying to vault up in research rankings.
We were looking for a logo that could appeal to a diverse student body.
We were hoping for a logo that would look collegiate and professional.
And this new logo does not do any of that. It may have a more modern feel, but it does not exude professionalism.
Stylistically, the biggest change to the logo is its font, which now looks especially informal.
The University’s intention was to make the logo more tech-friendly. The new George Washington, a digital recreation of the bust in University Yard, is clean, eye-catching and easily viewable from a computer screen – but its casual tone is out of place at an institution with aspirations of fostering a higher level of academic rigor.
A logo is not going to boost the perceived prestige of the University in the same way that increased undergraduate research and new facilities can.
This new image is not the logo of a university that hopes to align itself with the Ivy League schools, but rather, the logo of an institution that is struggling to distinguish itself among a crowded pool of other universities.
Campus is changing internally and externally. GW is spending millions on the construction of a new Science and Engineering Hall to strengthen academics, encouraging undergraduates across the University to conduct research, developing study abroad programs across the globe and tapping into alumni resources to help bolster its endowment.
Several other schools, like Michigan State University and Miami University of Ohio, hired 160over90 – the same branding agency that GW brought on to join FutureBrand, the company that managed marketing for the London 2012 Olympics. MSU paid $478,000 for its rebranding campaign, according to its student newspaper, The State News.
GW, though, has repeatedly declined to comment on the price tag of its rebranding campaign.
Yes, the University is a private institution, and it is not required to disclose such information.
But students have the right to know how tuition dollars invested in this institution are spent, especially on a two-year effort that failed to impress.