Why did LMU redesign its visual identity?
In 2017, LMU launched a comprehensive brand initiative, completing the largest market research and perceptions study in university history and crafting a brand platform to position us in a competitive higher education marketplace.
At the culmination of this phase of the brand initiative, it became clear that the current LMU visual identity system, launched in 2003, would not meet the needs of our future brand aspirations. In addition to appearing dated and worn, it did not function in today’s communications landscape that is dominated by small screens and digital applications. The 2003 identity also lacked cohesion, with several disjointed elements, including the university seal and important sub brands such as Athletics and Loyola Law School.
What was the process for developing the LMU visual identity?
Marketing and Communications set out on a visual identity redesign initiative in January 2018, hiring Pentagram, one of the world’s foremost and accomplished identity design firms. We spent months researching symbols, icons and images. We explored color and typography extensively. We delved into our history to glean insights into the ways the university has visually identified itself over more than a century.
In August, the identity project team presented a proposed, comprehensive new system to the university Cabinet at the Senior Leadership Retreat. With unanimous support, the Cabinet directed the team to introduce the proposed identity to the university community for feedback during the fall semester.
Marketing and Communications presented the identity proposal to all key LMU audiences, stakeholders and constituencies, including academic, religious, staff, student and alumni leaders; faculty chairs; coaches; boards and councils; and the community of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Feedback was also collected through an online survey during the month of October.
What did you do with all the community feedback?
Marketing and Communications collected, cataloged and tracked feedback throughout the fall semester. Feedback submitted online through the survey mechanism was tabulated and reviewed daily. Comments posted in social media — including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ProBoards and others — were also reviewed daily. Loyolan coverage, both in print and online, was examined. The community gave more input and comments in person at presentations, open forums and meetings. Even direct emails, phone calls, texts and person-to-person conversations were captured. The goal was to collect as much data as possible to ensure everyone’s voice was heard.
The logo project team entered a refinement phase with Pentagram based on common concerns raised in the feedback period. Every survey and comment was read and taken into consideration. A feedback report and suggested refinements were presented to the Cabinet in November and the Cabinet voted unanimously to move forward with the visual identity.
How is the feedback reflected in the final and approved visual identity?
The most common concerns pertained to the university seal and the spirit mark.
Many in the LMU community felt the seal, our ceremonial mark, lost its academic gravitas in the process of simplification for digital platforms. Although symbols of education or learning were not removed from the original graphic, the simpler, cleaner line work made some feel that the seal had lost its sense of academic tradition. Others disliked the emphasis given to the spirit mark in the seal’s central shield. Some believed the seal should be viewed as sacred and untouchable; others loved the proposed new seal and didn’t want it to change at all!
The final and approved ceremonial mark includes key refinements taken from 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, returns to the seal, occupying the lower left shield quadrant. The revised and updated spirit mark has been minimized into the lower right quadrant. Last, “Founded 1911” is now featured at the bottom of the outer band around the seal, fortifying a clear message of academic tradition and formality.
The spirit mark was the most controversial aspect of the 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. Work on the shape, size and spacing of the rays diminish the horn effect and bring the lion’s mane. The shape of the eyes and face have also been simplified further. The refined spirit mark is more balanced and symmetric and is graphically closer to the 500-year-old Jesuit seal that inspired it.
Why isn’t the primary mark the same shield graphic that’s used in the seal?
Refinement of the shield primary mark is reflected in the use of the updated Spirit Mark only. The retention of the three-icon approach in the shield is intentional. This format retains the most critical LMU messages and better meets the objective of visual integrity in a wide spectrum of print and digital applications. It better retains its shape and clarity when reduced in size.
The LMU identity system retains its high visual coordination. The ceremonial-to-primary mark integration is not dependent on an exact, one-to-one, graphic relationship. The seal is the “master” graphic and introduces dominant iconography used throughout the system.
Who made the decision?
The decision to move forward with the new LMU visual identity system was made by the university Cabinet and supported by the Board of Trustees. Prior to the decision, both groups received comprehensive reports of the community feedback and multiple options for addressing common themes. The Cabinet decision to implement the new visual identity system was unanimous.
When can I use the new logo?
Now that the proposed visual identity system has been approved, Marketing and Communications will begin building it out and developing graphic standards and guidelines. This will take time as every school, college, department, program, center and university affinity group will be included in the brand architecture. Thousands of individual files will be created to accomplish this effort, and the graphic standards will help us deploy the new system correctly and with consistency.
We expect university and other top-level marks, graphic standards and a redesigned business package (letterhead, business cards and other core print and electronic templates) to be released in the first quarter of 2019, and we will continue to transition to the new visual identity through the spring semester, and beyond. Fully implementing a new identity system at an institution our size is costly and takes time. Everyone is encouraged to exhaust existing materials and supplies and only place new orders that utilize the former identity with the short shelf life of May 2019.
Some key landmarks and deadlines in the identity implementation are as follows:
Visual identity toolkit released (logo files, guidelines and standards)—March 2019
University business package (stationery, print and e-tools)—March 2019
Campus signage—March 2019-August 2020
University website, social media channels and digital platforms—Spring 2019
Bookstore inventory and spirit wear—Summer 2019
Gersten Pavilion courts—Summer 2019
Athletic uniforms—Fall 2019
All external-facing print and digital publications changed to new identity—August 2020
Implementation will continue through the spring and summer to prepare for activation of the university’s brand initiative in Fall 2019. It will take years to fully complete the visual identity transition.
There are significant logo changes that will need to be made in my area. How should I begin the process?
LMU convened an Identity Implementation Committee to inventory, assess and prioritize logo transition projects. Representative of all areas of campus, the committee is the first point of contact for all significant projects. More information about the committee can be found here.
We are a big organization with three campuses and our old logos are everywhere. Fully transitioning to the new system will take time and priority will be given to projects that address areas where the university faces external audiences. The Identity Implementation Committee was assembled to ensure LMU addresses change in a coordinated and logical way.
You can help by identifying necessary logo upgrades on our campuses and sharing them with the committee member assigned to your area. To facilitate a comprehensive process, all contracts related to signage, environmental graphics, interior decor, vehicles, custom furniture and other identity upgrades that are submitted to the Office of Risk Management will be diverted to the committee.
I heard I won’t be able to use the university seal anymore. Why?
Seals are powerful symbols of academic reputation. In LMU’s new visual identity system, the redrawn university seal is elevated for ceremonial purposes only. Sample applications include degrees, academic regalia and communication at the highest levels of the university.
The primary LMU logo is the shield, the mark that extracts from the full seal. When locked up with a wordmark, the shield forms a logo signature. The vast majority of logo applications—from the university business package to primary signage on buildings and vehicles to email signatures—will deploy the shield logo signature.
Why did you change the university colors?
A primary reason to address our color strategy is to develop a consistent approach the entire university will use, consolidating the needs of Athletics, Loyola Law School and the main university identity into one palette.
In addition, the LMU color palette requires updating and modernization to be more effective on screens and in digital applications, the primary means of communication to our audiences. The new palette is more vivid and vibrant. The color values found in both the crimson and blue hues complement each other so they can be used harmoniously together without visual dissonance. The colors are also bright enough to be readable on a solid black background, a tremendous visual advantage.
The new palette steps LMU closer to the color affinities of its founding traditions—LMU Crimson signifying the Jesuits and LMU Blue for the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM). The RSHM color tradition is a lighter blue, far from the navy tone the university was using for the last two decades.
How and when can I have logos for my program created in the new brand architecture?
Marketing and Communications will be building out the university’s initial brand architecture for months and will continue to support requests for program-specific logo signatures on an ongoing basis. Logo signatures can be requested by filling out the request form.
I have a different logo that was custom designed for my program. Will I still be able to use it?
Logos and identities are typically the first experience our audiences have with us. Very quickly, they need to communicate who we are and what we stand for. They need to be memorable so that over time, they help create a direct, positive association with LMU. Visual identities accomplish these important objectives much more effectively when organizations use them consistently.
Historically, a handful of LMU programs and initiatives have sought visually-distinct logos and identities, in part to meet needs not addressed fully in the 2003 identity. This practice describes an “old” LMU. The LMU brand initiative is all about us coming together as a university and projecting a clear and consistent message as we work to raise overall reputational awareness. With the launch of our new visual identity system, all university sub brands will fold into a comprehensive brand architecture, and every school, college, program, center, functional unit and initiative will lock into it. The architecture will help us break through a crowded higher ed landscape and send a strong, powerful, lasting message that lifts the entire university.
We are a diverse community of people, programs, initiatives, stories and needs. Opportunities for internal marketing differentiation will be explored and revealed in messaging tactics as well as the powerful photography and images with which we associate.
When can I order new stationery?
Letterhead, business cards and other university business package materials are projected for completion in March 2019. The university community is encouraged to delay stationery orders until the new templates are in place. If first-quarter orders cannot be avoided, quantities should reflect a very short shelf life, ideally no longer than May 2019.
I am planning to produce print materials soon. Can I put the new logo on them?
As much as possible, new print projects should be delayed until the new visual identity toolkit is released in March 2019. If first-quarter orders cannot be avoided, the existing LMU identity should be used in the layout and quantities should reflect a very short shelf life, ideally no longer than May 2019.
I am planning to order promotional items. Can I put the new logo on them?
As much as possible, new orders for promotional items should be delayed until the new visual identity toolkit is released in March 2019. If first-quarter orders cannot be avoided, the existing LMU identity should be used in the layout and quantities should reflect a very short shelf life, ideally no longer than May 2019.
What are the rules and guidelines for using the new identity?
When the new visual identity toolkit is released in March 2019, it will include comprehensive graphic standards and usage guidelines to help everyone use the identity correctly and with consistency. The guidelines will outline the identity system in full detail, describing marks and signatures and their recommended uses; how the university color palette interacts with the logos; typography standards; guidelines for clear space and minimum size; common misuses, and much more.
LMU’s visual identity system is far more robust and complex than the 2003 identity. There will be many more options to choose from when discerning the right logo application for projects and initiatives.
What are the new university typefaces and can I have them?
Metric and Lyon are the new, official LMU typefaces. Marketing and Communications is pursuing a limited number of licenses for use in professional graphic production.
The graphic standards and usage guidelines will describe widely-available system fonts that can be used in place of both identity typefaces. Most university constituents will be encouraged to use these replacement typefaces for day-to-day use.
Will student organizations be required to use the new logo?
As has been the case under previous identity systems, student-run organizations will not be required to use the LMU visual identity. However, adoption of the new system is encouraged, and student organizations can download and implement the identity toolkit when it becomes available in March 2019. Student organizations can also request custom logo signatures using the online form.
What is happening to Iggy?
Iggy, our beloved costumed mascot, will not be impacted by the new LMU visual identity system, though he will proudly wear our new colors and Athletics logo in the future.
What is happening to the letters on the bluff?
The bluff letters will remain intact. They will not be impacted by the new LMU visual identity system.
Who can I contact for more information?
The university community is encouraged to reach out to the designated Marketing and Communications professionals in each area with questions about the visual identity initiative and implementation plans. Questions can also be submitted using this form, or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.