January 15, 2019
We thank the LMU community: together we improved and strengthened the new visual identity.
LMU’s new visual identity system launches at the end of March. MarComm is receiving requests for new logos, by eager early adopters and community members. As we prepare the system for community use, it is a good time to review how the community came together last semester to consider the visual identity proposal, share feedback for improvements, and ultimately strengthen the final and approved visual identity system.
LMU launched its visual identity redesign initiative a year ago. The university sought a community-centered approach with widespread involvement opportunities and feedback mechanisms, often unprecedented in higher ed branding and visual identity redesign exercises. Marketing and Communications hosted more than 40 small and large group presentations across campus, installed a comprehensive branding and visual identity exhibit in University Hall, and provided an online survey for reactions and feedback. Comments shared through social media and other outlets, such as the Loyolan, were also carefully tabulated and reviewed. During the months of October and November, nearly 2,000 surveys were thoroughly reviewed and captured. The objective was to collect as much data as possible to ensure everyone’s voice was heard, and to present an executive summary of the feedback with recommendations for possible modifications to the President’s Cabinet for a decision.
After collecting and synthesizing comments from direct feedback and surveys, the visual identity project team synthesized topics into common themes:
- Spirit mark: Comments to the spirit mark included: the lion looks unfamiliar; it is not fierce enough; it is too fierce; it looks like another lion logo; it appears to have horns, and it looks like the devil. While the spirit mark did not resonate with many, others expressed excitement and enthusiasm for it.
- Gravitas: Many felt the proposed system lacked gravitas overall.
- Colors: Some commented that the new colors stray too far from our traditions; others that the blue is too dominant. Some missed the navy hue of our previous color palette while others expressed gratitude for a brighter blue that more accurately reflects our Marymount tradition.
- Seal: For many, modernizing or updating the seal was inherently problematic, especially simplifying the symbols representing our traditions. There was discomfort in the introduction of a new and prominent element into the crest, the spirit mark, as well as in the removal of Los Angeles from the verbiage in the outer band.
Concerns about the ceremonial mark and the spirit mark were the most common. Design modifications centered on those areas.
Marketing and Communications explored and oversaw an array of adjustments to both marks, ranging from the subtle to the substantial. In November, Marketing and Communications led a comprehensive presentation to the President’s Cabinet that delved deeply into community feedback as well as the visual identity system refinements it inspired. The Cabinet voted unanimously to move forward with the modified visual identity, a decision that was subsequently supported by the LMU Board of Trustees in December.
How did all of that feedback directly affect the outcome? Looking closely at proposed ceremonial and spirit marks next to their approved counterparts tells the story.
Ceremonial Mark Refinements
Visual simplification for digital platforms was one of five key objectives from the onset of the visual identity redesign project, but many in our community believed the proposed seal, our ceremonial mark, displayed less academic gravitas, over-emphasized the lion spirit mark, or believed that the existing seal should not be changed. Other feedback supported the changes and embraced the more contemporized approach.
Refinements that became the final and approved ceremonial mark directly reflect this feedback. The shield is now partitioned in quadrants, a visual direction that is more familiar and recognizable to the internal LMU community. An angel icon, representing Los Angeles and the Los Angeles archdiocese, returns to the seal, occupying the lower left shield quadrant. The revised and updated spirit mark has been minimized into the lower right quadrant. Also, “Founded 1911” is now featured at the bottom of the outer band around the seal, fortifying a clear message of academic tradition and formality.
Spirit Mark Refinements
The spirit mark was the most controversial aspect of the visual identity proposal. Refinements were made to address common concerns shared about the appearance of horns created by the graphic array at the top of the lion’s mane. We worked on the shape, size and spacing of the rays to diminish the “horn effect” and better pronounce the lion’s mane. We also simplified the shape of the eyes and face. The refined spirit mark is more balanced and symmetric and is graphically closer to the 500-year-old Jesuit seal that inspired it.
Visual identity redesigns are inherently challenging for organizations. While LMU’s transparent approach to logo development is not common practice, we embrace opportunities for critical dialogue and diverse perspectives because we learn more about our perceptions, values, and how we present ourselves to the world authentically.
More Visual Identity Resources