Logos are usually thought of as existing primarily in the business world but in actuality most organizations of any kind have some type of identity. Major Educational institutions all have a company image. Since they are not for profit organizations, are there different principles of logo design applying to them?
Absolutely not. Logos are intended to convey a sense of the organization and what it stands for and Educational Institutions are no exception. Traditional and conservative Universities, Colleges, and Preparatory Academies should have an identity that reflect their values. On the other hand, Online Universities, Junior Colleges, and Technical Colleges should design logos that reflect their perhaps more practical and pragmatic values and approaches to education.
The design principle of simplicity leading to functionality is even more evident with major Educational institutions. Functionality means the logo can be used in a variety of applications without losing its impact and inherent meaning. Visit the campus bookstore at any educational institution and you’ll see the University or College identity everywhere. Shirts, pants, hats, dishware, pencils, poster, stationery, even on rolls of toilet paper! The values of an educational institution can sometimes be easier to reflect than those of a for profit corporation so let’s compare the logos of three major American universities. We will discuss the image of Penn State University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Examples of Educational Logos
Penn State is a public university while Harvard and MIT are private. Harvard is the oldest and most respected academic institution in the United States while Penn State is one of the better Public Universities. MIT is considered by many to be the premier technological University in the entire world. MIT”s graphic appears to reflect the bold and dramatic improvements one would expect from technological innovation. They turned the letters “MIT” into its own graphic image with the use of a series of thick rectangles put together to form the three letters. It looks at first glance like a graphic but the text becomes apparent quickly. Colors are limited to two, red and grey.
Harvard and Penn State both use a shield as a graphic image; Harvard’s in a bold red and Penn State’s in a somewhat less bold blue. Penn State’s includes their date of origin — 1855 — while Harvard’s does not. Harvard doesn’t need to reassure anybody while Penn State is stating it has been around long enough to be trustworthy. Harvard’s logo has the Latin word for truth — Veritas — broken up and appearing in three books on the shield. In a very interesting twist, Penn State’s shield includes an image of the school’s athletic mascot — the Nittany Lion — sitting at the top of the shield. Sports are an important part of Public Universities and Penn State is reminding us of that fact. Harvard, on the other hand, is more about seeking truth than it is about scoring touchdowns! All three are excellent examples of what a logo is supposed to do: convey a feeling about the institution they represent.