How important is a School’s Logo to Students?

Photo courtesy of baltic_86 (mostly off)

California students are angry and it is not because of another pepper-spraying incident or their favorite professor has been the unfortunate sacrifice in a recent reduction in force. Recently, a new logo for the University of California was released in an effort to create an iconic and easily-identifiable way to market the university. Jason Simon, director of marketing and communications for the university system stated, “The new mark was created as a part of our broader efforts to build awareness and support for all the things that UC does to make California (and by extension the world) better” (Jaschik, 2012, para. 6). With the controversy building, one question emerges: how important is a school logo to you?

The University of California is not the first school to change its logo for marketing purposes. In October 2011 Ashford University released its new logo, said to be a modern an energetic representation of the school’s achievements and focus for the future. Students openly expressed their feelings – positive and negative – about the new logo on Ashford’s Facebook page. Most comments focused on the look of the new logo and not its symbolic representation of the school, however. As a student, does a traditional logo or emblem represent a school’s worth? Does it make it a “legitimate” school?

Emblems are important to students because they are created to be memorable and establish an emotional connection. Students, like customers, see traditional emblems as being professional and trust-worthy when investing in an education. Unfortunately, in the digital day-and-age, schools are seeking to brand themselves to stand out, be current with the trends and needs of students, and eventually, enroll students.

Historically, seals date back to ancient Mesopotamia; their presence denoted a document as legal or authentic. In terms of education, an emblem, such as one from Virginia Polytechnic University, is seen by students as authenticating their education and degree as legitimate in society. While this may be the reason for backlash over new logos and emblems, it has not halted enrollment in schools without them.

Much controversy has been said about for-profit colleges and whether or not they provide students with the same quality and rigorous education as a traditional institution of learning. Could the push-back from students who want to maintain the use of traditional emblems in marketing be due to the ”stamp of approval” it evokes? Are students from traditional colleges desperate to maintain the prestige of a quality institution in a world full of diploma mills?

A sense of pride comes from attending a university that can sometimes be lost in distance education. Being a part of a community of learners with a deep sense of tradition is important to most students and when a piece of history is lost or ignored, one would expect nothing less than the voicing of many opinions.


Logo Revolt. Jaschik, Scott. (2012). Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from

Ashley Benson is a distance education professional with five years of experience in the for-profit sector. She has worked coast-to-coast within the United States as an academic advisor, an adjunct teaching assistant and, most recently, a campus Registrar. Through formal education and industry experience, Ashley practices staying informed on the current events and changes within higher education and the students involved.

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