UGA rebranding

UGA's Rebranding Effort

As a die-hard Auburn fan, you don’t normally find me raving about something that the University of Georgia did. But as a creative director, I’ve got to send kudos to the Bulldogs for UGA’s recent rebranding effort.

While Georgia alumni may want to cling to the familiar look and feel they remember, the old mark had issues. Its delicate lines felt overly thin, even fragile. The old, narrow horizontal rules didn’t reduce well. And UGA’s iconic arch sat on top of the logo, instead of being integrated into the mark as a whole. On top of that, the university’s brand integrity had become disjointed and disorganized. Pieces and parts of the UGA brand (arch, colors, etc.) seemed to be pulled apart and used randomly, with little continuity from one to another – especially when compared with the high-integrity logos of rivals GA Tech and University of Florida.

The new logo is a great improvement.

Look at how that same iconic arch has been kept as a central focus in the new brand, while its silhouette was revised – barely perceptibly – so that it will stand out against the shield behind it. And the typography is, bolder, stronger and more legible than the previous font. The serif still has the classic qualities you’d expect at a more than 200 year-old university, but feels modern and updated.

I’m especially impressed by how attention to small details makes this updated brand so successful. Consider, for instance, how the triangular indentations at the base of the arch columns help project the arch into the foreground. In a sea of university shield logos, UGA’s choice to focus and hone legacy elements from the previous mark while adding a timeless, legible typeface makes this new mark stand apart.

NASA rebranding

The Meatball vs. the Worm: The NASA Brand Standards Manual

In 1972, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) initiated the Federal Graphics Improvement Program under the direction of President Richard Nixon. The NEA program was fairly new when New York design firm Danne & Blackburn was tasked with redesigning NASA’s existing graphics and communication standards, which were fractured and outdated.

Rebranding a federal agency with thousands of employees and facilities across the country was no easy feat; Danne & Blackburn began the process by updating the NASA logo, which would become widely known as 'the worm'. The new logo was everything the existing logo, nicknamed 'the meatball,' was not - simple, streamlined, and easily reproduced on everything from a letterhead to the side of a building.

NASA logo redesign

The new logo was both embraced and despised by those that worked for the agency. In general, the 'old guard' NASA employees felt it trampled on the history of the agency, while the new, younger employees viewed it as a modern and refreshing update. To this day, the debate over 'meatball vs. worm' still rages on.

The controversial logo established a path to a comprehensive, well-organized manual, with every aspect of the system designed around the central idea of easy reproduction. The guide was continually amended and updated for the next 10 years, with every NASA facility submitting images of their signage and branded elements - each slightly unique, but in line with the manual. These images were organized into an appendix to showcase how consistent design and branding can be accomplished and distributed even through decentralized channels.

Unfortunately, the worm logo and brand standards were ultimately revoked in 1992, as NASA went back to using the traditional meatball for all graphic communications moving forward. However, the original guide left a powerful legacy in the design world, and became a standard bearer for forward-thinking design excellence.

“Recognizing the need is the primary condition for design.” –Charles Eames

FedEx logo

I See What You Did There!

Anyone who has ever noticed the right-facing arrow in the Fedex logo knows that logos containing cleverly hidden meanings can boost perceptions of the business in several ways: Hidden symbols in a logo can explain and/or reinforce the nature of the business. Or they can offer a visual representation of the name. They can add intrigue and prestige. And, the company's attention to detail and creativity can make us conclude that their business personifies the attributes hidden in the logo.

Maybe more than anything, logos that include hidden meanings make us feel clever for finding them. They're fun and inspiring.

So, why not wake up the places in your brain that enjoy a good treasure hunt? See if you can find the hidden meanings in this collection of logo designs. And have fun with what they inspire for you: