14 Comments

  • Payal

    September 17, 2016

    Itu, this is a fascinating examination. I’ve always found the use of ‘implied legacy’ symbols interesting – and problematic. The Nalanda and Ashoka examples are equally interesting – the reverse approach, so to speak. Legacy name, relatively modern identity. But is there no room in education for breaking from legacy entirely, in both name and symbol? I understand that in the liberal arts, one may not want to break that connection but why not, for instance, in domains like tech – where the implication of legacy has less to offer than implications of being future-ready?

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    • Itu Chaudhuri

      Itu Chaudhuri

      September 19, 2016

      Payal, thanks, and you are exactly right. Professional institutes indeed do strike out in that direction.MIT is one; the NID logo follows a classic modernism you’d associate with Adrian Frutiger, and thus NID; NIFT looks Memphis inspired, though it’s not entirely successful.

      Reply
  • Santosh Kumar Sood

    September 19, 2016

    An interesting read. I wonder, however, how many of these logos are spontaneously recognized, forget being decoded appropriately, by even the stakeholders of the respective institutions.

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    • Itu Chaudhuri

      Itu Chaudhuri

      September 19, 2016

      Quite right, Santosh. Visibility was not a priority, but the new need to market logic dictates visibility and disticntiveness, as with any corporate brand.

      Reply
  • Lavleen Singal

    September 19, 2016

    Very interesting thought …

    Universities have been about traditions (Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard) and excellence which they have maintained over centuries while evolving according to today’s needs. Even St. Stephen’s, aside from evolving, have “tradition” as a brand “pull”

    Therefore, really the question comes to my mind – do these Universities need to rebrand themselves into modern entities, away from age-old traditions. Should they run the risk of being viewed as ‘money hungry’ monsters in the name of education as is being viewed in India (capitation fee saga).

    If the ‘branding’ debate is about modernity vs. tradition, modernity would win hands down; but then the tradition branding does attract provided it is backed by excellence and keeping the infrastructure (read: labs, computers, libraries etc.) modern.

    Interesting debate – would like to have diverse views.

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    • Itu Chaudhuri

      Itu Chaudhuri

      September 19, 2016

      Exactly, Lavleen. I agree with you. I don’t think classic universities need to forget about their antique origins. It’s more that PPUs shouldn’t ape them!

      For classic universities, it depends on their quality. Those whose traditions actually enhance their stature can stay the course, with appropriate nods to the times, if at all; but those that are merely old should discover, distill and express their relevance to the modern stakeholder, just as PPUs should. In the end, marketing is defined by reputation, and reputation by academic quality.

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  • Suvir Kaul

    September 19, 2016

    Take a look at the web-remnants of the logo of the Corinthian Colleges, which shut down recently. They too fall between their desire to emphasise newness and accessibility in their choice of font (note the Inc. too) and their hope of academic heft suggested by the Greek column (topped by a mortarboard?) logic of the traditional; what we know is that they did not retain any of the values associated with traditional institutions.

    How’s that for poor design thinking and fraudulent academic-marketing practices?

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  • Badri Narayan

    September 19, 2016

    I agree Itu :-)

    Universities need to eschew their imagery based on colonial antiquity, and monumentality and embrace contextuality, modernity, lightness….These values need to extend to everything–including architecture, as well to the contents, curriculum, pedagogy.. and right up to the archaic convocation rituals where graduates dress up like medieval European monks!! We need a total overhaul.

    Couple of years ago, I visited Manipal Institute campus at Jaipur and was flabbergasted to see a mammoth St peters style dome rising out of the agricultural fields in the outskirts of Jaipur.

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  • Lolita Dutta

    September 19, 2016

    Many years ago, as I finished my schooling and wanted to go into a creative field, I had chanced upon NID, almost by default. In times when there was no web interface, I wrote to NID asking for admission, and was actually rewarded by a reply. What impressed me most was the LOGO ! In india at that time, (actually even now), there are very few Institutional logos which stand out.

    Without a partial bias, to me even today, the Adrian Frutiger designed logotype of NID is no doubt one of the most impactful institutional logos.

    In the melee of private education the need to differentiate, and be seen and heard is of paramount importance. however no matter how many exist, I can barely recall any logo of any worthwhile institution.

    There is the IIM-A, logo which has some visual value, as it showcases the jali of the siddhi sayed mosque, therefore creating an identity which become identifiable for the context it is in , i.e. Ahmedabad. Most others are lost in translation. Having associated with so many institutions, it’s strange that one remembers only the ones that leave a mark in the mind, for either being good, or being really really bad!

    Institutional branding is supposed to influence, but I feel “the word of mouth” brand enforcement in institutions works better than some convoluted image, almost clones of each other, leaves, wreaths etc. simplicity just does not exist.

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  • Shubhendu Ranjan Deb

    September 23, 2016

    Hi Itu. It is good of you to raise such thought evoking discussions often and one gets to read not only your POV but of many others.
    Fundamentally, many of the educational institutions have so far not really looked at marketing / branding as an essential activity because the key factors which play an essential role for the admission seeker in taking decision in favor of a particular university or college are it’s education format, quality of faculty, investment on infrastructure and placement records, to name a few. These are extremely functional elements but are providing assurance to the decision maker. If all these factors are good but the logo is not appealing (not referring to only authoritative insignia), it doesn’t matter. No one has been embarrassed because of IIM, Ahmedabad logo.
    However, the logo plays an important role in reminding it’s audience about the ethos of the university or college, which is basically the brand story.
    Many of the new, upcoming colleges / universities have a challenge, primarily they lack credential and that’s why they use more of visual appeal.
    To conclude, my thoughts too echo that many of the old University / College logos have a medieval look but I also realize that University / College do not survive on Logos.

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  • Sumit Roy

    September 23, 2016

    I agree with Lolita Dutta on two counts.

    1. The NID logo is exceptionally well-designed.

    2. Word of Mouth matters more than the logo design.

    The best design, of course, would be a logo design that captures the idea the prosumer wants to champion.

    Sadly, very rare.

    Reply
  • William Bissell

    September 26, 2016

    Thank you for mailing me your thoughtful piece. I do believe that the world’s most successful universities became brands decades ago, ­Harvard, Stanford Yale even IIM Ahmedabad (even though it may not act like a brand). I believe we have created very strong university brands and these brands can, if they choose, leverage themselves in ways that’s not been possible historically.

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  • Dinesh Korjan

    October 7, 2016

    Just fascinated by the information holding capacities of logos and symbols. The more explicit information you put in the less it actually holds. When the design is less explicit its capacity to hold information and acquire meaning expands immensely – sometimes, to entire ideologies! Is there a larger lesson here somewhere?

    Reply
  • Tessa

    January 5, 2017

    nicolaslemaire dip&obst;:Bnnjour. J’ai cru comprendre que vous donniez des cours. Et cela me plairait d’y participer. En tout cas chapeau le blog est sympa.

    Reply

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