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Updated Logo Aims to Modernize, Unify BU

Branding Web site offers guidelines for schools and colleges


The new University logo closely resembles the old one. The colors and typeface are the same. But the center line is gone and the spacing adjusted. According to Scott Dasse, the creative director for New Media, the new logo will work better when reproduced at a variety of sizes.

A year and a half of study, discussion, and hard work ended last week when members of the Office of Marketing and Communications gathered in the Metcalf Trustee Ballroom for the unveiling of the University’s new master logo, along with a manual of guidelines for its use.

President Robert A. Brown, who opened the presentation, told the audience that while the new logo is not very different from the old one, its uniform use will make a big change. Brown said that all schools, departments, and campus organizations will begin speaking with one voice by using the same logos, icons, and subbrand logotypes on their Web sites, stationery, business cards, and the like. The University seal, which Brown jokingly referred to as the “meatball,” will for the most part be phased out and used only for special occasions, such as formal invitations or ceremonial documents like diplomas.

“If you walk around campus today,” Brown said, “there’s no single logo for the University, because everyone changes it just a little bit to make it work for them. They put other things in the box, use different colors. But what’s missing when each school and college does their own thing is an identity for the whole University.”

The Schools of Management and Law, for example, incorporate their names into the logo. The School of Theology has its own seal, while the College of Communication uses the University seal. Some schools and colleges don’t use any logo at all.

The new logo and icons were designed by Cambridge-based Toth Brand Imaging, which counts among its clients Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and Coach. The new branding initiative began almost two years ago with a marketing study that found, among other things, little unity or focus among the University’s design elements.

Steve Burgay, vice president of marketing and communications, said his team and Toth experimented with many logos, some radically different, some they considered marketing home runs. But after consulting with other members of the University, particularly on the academic side, about some of those departures, they decided to go with a freshening-up of the existing logo.

“We got the clear sense that there was a great deal of value attached to something that has gravitas,” said Burgay. “The Boston University logo that we’ve had for the previous 10 years has a sense of heritage and tradition that folks felt very attached to.”

Scott Dasse, the creative director for the Office of New Media, said that although the new logo is very similar to the old one, the spacing has been adjusted to make the words feel less crowded and the integrity of the border has been strengthened so the image can be reproduced at a variety of sizes.

Amy Hook, assistant vice president of marketing and communications, who spearheaded the branding effort, assured the audience that implementing the new design elements is not a start-over-from-scratch situation.

“We’re trying to make this as easy as possible,” said Hook. “And we’re here to help. We understand it’s going to take time. We’re not asking people to retrofit everything, except their Web sites. But as you run out of business cards and stationery, you’ll get cards and stationery with the new logo.”

Hook said the University’s schools and organizations can still use outside design vendors, but they need to supply them with the new design elements and guidelines. As more Web sites and materials successfully convert, she plans to post examples on the OMC site, and she pointed to the College of Fine Arts as a site that is now “on-brand.”

All the icons, signatures, and logos, as well as the guidelines, can be downloaded. There is a contact form for questions, and hard copy manuals are available.

Hook said campus signage will undergo related changes in the next year, as well. Printed materials, too, such as brochures and catalogs, will soon have a fresher, more dynamic tone under the direction of Amy Schottenfels, the new creative director of print at Creative Services.

“Over the next six months to a year, we’ll all be speaking with one voice,” Hook said. “One that’s modern, urban, global, dynamic, confident, progressive, and diverse.”

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.


19 Comments on Updated Logo Aims to Modernize, Unify BU

  • Marguerite Looft on 01.28.2008 at 12:46 pm

    New BU Logo Design

    I love the new Bu Logo design! It’s bright, bold, and fresh. It makes more sense not to have the line separating the two words. It’s simple, but says it. Great job!

    Warm regards,

    Marguerite Looft
    BU Parent
    CAS ’11

  • Anonymous CAS' 07 on 01.28.2008 at 3:51 pm

    New Design

    Yes, the new design looks fine (although not much different), but a two year project must have sucked so much money from the University which could have been spent on something more worthwhile. Why was it necessary to hire an outside brand imaging consulting firm when there is an Office of New Media – isn’t it their job to figure this stuff out for a fraction of the cost?

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2008 at 4:41 pm

    To quote: “A year and a half of study, discussion, and hard work ended last week…”

    You have got to be kidding me. This is what we’re wasting resources on at BU, while you’ve got classrooms with 20 year old AC units rusting away in their windows, faculty offices with radiator leaks that take months to fix, elevators in office brownstones that regularly break down, and staff salaries that pale in comparison to even other colleges in the area, never mind corporate entities.

    I would be very interested to see a breakdown of man-hours spent working on this project and the amount of money paid out to complete it. I’m sure it’d be more than I make in a year, probably more than what I make in a couple of years (and I do all right, for a BU employee).

    You could have probably replaced every junk AC unit in CAS and the offices on upper Bay State Road and had money left over for some new office furniture, and in the mean time, gotten a couple of CFA or COM design faculty to work with Marketing and Communications on this little project.

    But no – that line through the middle just HAD to go, didn’t it?

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2008 at 7:41 pm

    Out with the old, in with the new!

    This is not at all different.

  • Anonymous on 01.28.2008 at 8:26 pm

    Yet Another Streamlined Logo

    The new logo looks nice, however, the university seal (aka “the meatball”) definitely should not be kept hidden away, only to be brought out for formal uses. Sure the new streamlined logo may have been created by the same professionals who created the Hilfiger logo. But the new logo, like an arrow sign, only gives me info but does not embody any of BU’s heritage. To me, the university seal (“the meatball”) embodies BU’s historical upbringing and heritage. Streamlined logos are fine for new schools that have no heritage to boast. However, BU possesses such a rich history that is praise worthy (even in “ivy territory” -aka Boston) that the new logo can’t live up to such a heritage. There’s a reason all those ivys have held on to their formal crests, we should take a hint and hold on to our crest as well because BU is no less bona fide than any of those ivy colleges. – CAS ’10

  • Smart Is Sexy on 01.28.2008 at 9:48 pm

    A year and a half. Really?

    This is ridiculous. The subtext of this article is that BU and its Board of Trustees are the nightmarish, narrow-minded clients that every designer dreads. Way to use that limited endowment, Brown. Way to be.

  • Mark Foelster on 01.29.2008 at 12:01 am


    I find it amazing that BU just wasted a year and a half coming up with this revolutionary new logo. I think it’s even more absurd that the University made public the fact that it took so long to review. And does the administration really think a common logo is all it will take to unify this campus?

    Bring back the underscore!

  • Anonymous on 01.29.2008 at 12:52 pm

    A year and a half? An image consulting firm? Endless hours of designing and debating?

    And in the end, only a line was removed.


    Stop worrying so much about the little logo printed on University stationary and address faulty heating and cooling systems in dorms and classroom buildings, dining hall maintainence, elevators in need of repair, and furniture in need of replacement. What good is it to improve the University’s logo and “appearance” if the facilities are still in desperate need of improvement?

    It’s great to see that our $45,000+/year is going to good use…*sarcasm*

  • Matthew John Genesius Pezone on 01.30.2008 at 1:15 am

    This is the best logo I’ve ever seen in my life. The white bar was an eyesore and abrasive. I almost didn’t enroll at Boston University because of it. Now that the “Boston” and the “University” and more united, if you will, I’m pretty sure Boston University will quickly become ranked among the best in terms of unification. Like maybe Harvard, UPenn, then BU.

  • James Sappenfield on 01.30.2008 at 5:03 pm

    New and Nice, but at what Cost?

    This is not radically different. It is new and fresh. It looks clean and well cut. If it becomes the defacto logo for all colleges, it will be a step forward.

    But at what cost?

    A year and a half worth of work was put into this image. If that work was spent on plans on how to implement unity it might sound more plausible, but to put a year and a half’s worth of work into such minor changes is disgusting for persons who consider themselves to be college educated, let alone the heads of an institution of education. A deadline should have been set for a new logo in a month at maximum.

  • Anonymous on 01.30.2008 at 9:42 pm

    B United

    Glad to hear Brown successfully unified the University by eliminating a line from the logo. That line was just so divisive. Also seeing College of Arts of Sciences under the logo confused me and made me forget where I was going. Good thing that’s all changed. All thanks to two years of study and discussion…

  • Anonymous on 01.31.2008 at 9:23 am

    Calm down everyone

    Everyone who has responded about it taking a year and a half to only remove a line needs to go back and read the article.

    As a graphic designer, I am familiar with the processes and timetables involved with a project as big as this one. From initial research, to numerous proposals which inevitably lead to changes, an identity can take a very long time to finalize. That being said, the article stated that Toth came up with many different logos, some they considered “marketing homeruns.” The initial research most likely took a few months, as well as the development of these new logos. Then they probably met with BU administration numerous times after that, who ultimately wanted to keep a sense of the tradition that is the old logo – hence what we all see now.

    Another reason you should all go back and read the article is to see that this campaign is not simply about the logo, but it’s unified usage across all the schools’ websites and documentation. I may be the only one, but hasn’t everyone heard of the $1.8 BILLION initiative for the next 10 years in which Brown wants to unify BU? Don’t worry, AC units are included in it. This new visual identity and the usage of it is a big step forward to a unified BU.

  • Anonymous on 01.31.2008 at 8:54 pm

    You're Wrong

    No. Boston University has a College of Communications and a College of Fine Arts. Wouldn’t it be a bit more meaningful if this new logo was developed by a student in any of these colleges, not to mention cheaper? “Unity” is a fun word to throw around, but what exactly is the plan here; who are we uniting? This was a great opportunity to unify the students and administrative tasks in my opinion, but instead of being a bit creative and thinking about what this “new symbol of unity” is actually supposed to represent, they further distanced the students from the administration by being more concerned with all their BUreaucratic BUllshit. I don’t even know who “they” are, I’ve never met “them,” and I don’t care. I’m here for a good education not because I want to be at some image-conscious, trendy institution.

  • Anonymous on 02.01.2008 at 10:17 am

    Higher Education as the Next Commodity?

    Since when did our university education become a brand name—a mere commodity that can be bought or sold in the open marketplace?

    I can agree that the idea of pursuing some semblance of campus unity is a worthy one. Ever since the early 20th century, university presidents have focused on campus unity as a means to instilling common aims, unified purpose, and esprit de corps. Our fourth president, Daniel L. Marsh, even made “University consciousness” the focus of his 25-year presidency. If various schools/colleges/departments are using disparate logos and symbols, then it is reasonable to start bringing things under one roof (although the financial costs of contracting with an outside firm over 1½ years to remove a single line from our existing logo is a bit embarrassing).

    But what is lost in marginalizing the University Seal? Our first president, William F. Warren, sketched the original University Seal in the late 1800s as a means of connecting the university with its esteemed history, heritage, and foundation. He also used the seal as a means of conveying the venerated purpose of Boston University—a city upon a hill that provides equal opportunities to a higher education that illuminates the lives of all who enter. The claptrap of descriptors under our “Brand Personality” (Excellent, Modern, Dynamic, Confident, Progressive, Global, and Diverse) doesn’t even allow the voices of our history to speak! And our “Identity Platform” with its “Emphasis on Yourself” (a driveling reference to the acronym BU)…do we really want our students to graduate from this place even more self-indulgent than when they first entered!?!

    Of all social institutions, universities should continually return and learn from their history. Once upon a time, we prided ourselves on instilling Wisdom, Personal Responsibility, and Independence—core values that defined Boston University graduates. Are we now bowing down to the lowest common denominators of Consumerism, Convenience, and Coddling? Substance is timeless, but fashion is only here and now.

    Finally: Simply because a marketing firm invested tens of thousands of dollars in high-powered market research does not make it a legitimate exercise. In 1985, and after countless invested dollars in market researching gimmicks, Coca-Cola attempted to introduce “New Coke,” a sweeter version of its flagship soft drink. The result was a devastating market flop, and the public demanded a return to the classic Coca-Cola formula. Let’s all hope that the new BU brand name doesn’t taste as flat!!!

  • Anonymous on 02.01.2008 at 2:14 pm

    Out with the old and in with the new is right!

  • Anonymous on 02.03.2008 at 5:16 pm

    “This is where fashion meets higher education?” What an appalling waste of resources. The money being spent on efforts to recast BU as a “cool parade” (!) would be infinitely more useful if used to, say, fund scholarships, attract leading faculty, fix up facilities in COM, CAS, and CFA. In short, if used to do things that educational institutions are MEANT to do.

    Judging by the “Brand Identity Standards,” — which is, frankly, an embarrassment — BU aims to attract students who are invested not in their educational potential but in attending a “hip” university, who wish to purchase a $40,000/year “experience” because of the pizazz it will add to their resumes. Maybe we should build a new parking lot next to the student village for their BMWs and Audis, too?

    BU should stop acting like some sleazy marketing firm and re-discover its identity as a university. Truly excellent institutions do not need such transparent ploys to gain students and donors.

  • Anonymous on 02.04.2008 at 10:44 am

    This is absurd. I know President Brown and the rest of the BU administration are focusing on other beneficial efforts, but this is just ridiculous. Personally, I feel that this “new” logo looks cheap and entirely unappealing, and will be even more so spread throughout campus on all buildings/stationary, etc. The BU seal for me represents a strong school tradition and should not be relegated to “formal” occasions. If we start having this awful logo on everything, and eliminate the BU seal, we are projecting an image of a corporation, and one without much aesthetic-consciousness at that.
    And I must say, all of this “One BU” nonsense is getting a little out of hand. What is so wrong with individual communities of our school maintaining individual identity? I quite like the idea of seperate schools/departments/offices coming up with personal variations on a grand BU theme (like incorporating SMG into the seal)–it makes us unified but still distinct. We can be a diverse and unified community.
    You’re bummin’ me out, Bobby Brown.

  • Anonymous on 03.17.2008 at 10:19 am

    Logo is a no-go

    I’ve been around BU since the Stone Age (or rather the Stoned Age). I don’t think BU has changed that much in its corporate thinking. To even acknowledge (let alone have a press release) about removing a line from a boring logo shows how pathetically our community grasps for signs of real change. I recently took my high school junior son on a tour of BU. It looked very drab and dreary. They didn’t even show him the Hancock student center or any of the other newer facilities. A dingy cinder block room in Towers was almost embarrassing. The admissions office talk was “lame” and there wasn’t even a video. By contrast, we went two days later to Northeastern. They had well-prepared students who gave excellent tours and emphasized what the future holds and what the benefits of their school are. NU has carved out an impressive campus for itself out of some really bleak old industrial real estate. When John Silber came to BU and spoke at Hayden Hall (now the Tsai Center) his first week at BU, he lamented Commonwealth Avenue and said, “we’ve got to do something about that!” Well, after many years and many thousands of dollars to lawyers to bale out the good former Prez and his pontifications, we still have one line running through the heart of BU and it is an uglier line now that the trees got cut down. Cummington Street never did become a mall, there’s still more asphalt than grass behind CAS, and the old Hillel House is impressive with its boarded up windows. I think if you want to impress 16 and 17-year olds in your target market, you’d better hop on the Green Line over to Northeastern and see how it is supposed to be done. By the way, I think Northeastern’s logo is still just an “N”. Less logo; more progress.

  • Anonymous on 03.25.2008 at 4:02 pm

    I don’t really have a problem with the change, but how on earth did this take them “A year and a half of study, discussion, and hard work?”

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