Binks Is Here

Commentary on the World

Probably Not the Right Message...

Probably everyone who reads this has some familiarity with the UW logo controversy.

I’m of the opinion that it’s not a great direction, but I’m not a true student of design. What I think I can say for sure is that if you want students and alumni to buy into the identity, you need to engage them. Even Microsoft recently realized this - people hated Vista; but during the Windows 7 development process, the dev team had a blog going so that they could interact with the community, asking things like “What would you like to see in Windows 7?” and “What problems have you had with the release candidates?” It was probably the most public process they’ve ever run, and it let people feel like they had a hand in what was going to come out in the end - and even if they didn’t get what they wanted, they at least felt that someone had listened, considered the idea, and presented good reasons about why they couldn’t go in that direction.

UW didn’t have any release candidates for the new logo, and they certainly didn’t solicit any feedback. They dumped it out fully completed and then said, “Now, make it your own”.

If you’re new to a market (and, indeed, they seem to continue to insist that education is a market, and that one must be branded as a company would) you can do that - Here I am, take it or leave it! Twitter is a controversial technology and company, but they’ve largely stayed true to the way they were founded. People who support them support them, and people who don’t won’t. I think they’re fine with that.

By comparison, take someone like Nike - they’ve been around for a long time and have estabished their brand carefully and specifically. They are the spirit of sport itself, if their marketing is to be believed. However, if tomorrow they came out with a line of vaccum cleaners, people would take notice and probably wouldn’t like it. People who cared would protest the change to the company, people who didn’t would buy someone else’s products. Hopefully, new people would come in to fill the void of the old.

I think UW can’t afford to do things the Nike Vaccum way. Students have invested too much in the institution to just drop it. They need to do it the New Microsoft way and bring people along for the ride.

I’m of the opinion, however, that it’s this attitute that’s pervasive: (From the UW Bulletin’s Logo Omnibus edition)

But the new provost will face the challenge of bringing everybody along with him. Beckel is wondering now whether “not everyone is fully engaged” in the goals of the Sixth Decade Plan and the work it’ll take to reach them. Is the logo discontent, particularly in the on-campus community, driven partly by the anxiety of people who don’t buy into the direction UW is being steered? Maybe they think UW’s long-time role as a major Ontario university is enough to aspire to; maybe they’re a bit afraid to be innovative and courageous, especially when the in-box is overflowing with the same old daily work. In these circumstances, it might be hard to see the need for a new “positioning” or a new logo, let alone judge whether the colours convey the right image “” even if some 500 people in focus groups and “consultation” meetings apparently all said yes.

What if the people who oppose us are content with being smeared in poop? Perhaps they like the feeling of sucking. Maybe they’re just giant wussies barely competent enough to do their own jobs.

Way to go, guys. Clearly the only way to achieve anything in this world is by following your plan (you asked 500 people from KW too, so international students are certain to love the new look). Anyone who disagrees just doesn’t want to succeed. So, which is it, undecided individual? Are you a giant wimp, or do you want to do things my way?

This is straight out of a schoolyard bully’s playbook. Anyone with more than a few braincells to rub together can see that’s a false dichotomy. “My way or the highway” is not building community or support.

I think that’s the one thing we’ve learned for sure here - UW will do what UW will do, you can either get with the program or be apathetic and ignore student life. UW’s students have been good at the second one for quite some time, and I can’t see that trend reversing itself.