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Grant Bosse

Grant Bosse: UNH's options for a revamped logo are terrible

  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author unknown.

    Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author unknown.

  • Charlotte Thibault logo

    Charlotte Thibault logo

  • Charlotte Thibault logo

    Charlotte Thibault logo

  • Current UNH logo

    Current UNH logo

  • UNH commissioned logo designs

    UNH commissioned logo designs

  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Anonymous.

    Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Anonymous.

  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Gary G. Krupp.

    Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Gary G. Krupp.

  • LK Weiss UNH logo submission

    LK Weiss UNH logo submission

  • Jill E. Mahan logo option

    Jill E. Mahan logo option

  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Charlie Perkins.

    Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Charlie Perkins.

  • Corey J. Garland

    Corey J. Garland

  • UNH commissioned logo designs

    UNH commissioned logo designs

  • UNH commissioned logo designs

    UNH commissioned logo designs

  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author unknown.
  • Charlotte Thibault logo
  • Charlotte Thibault logo
  • Current UNH logo
  • UNH commissioned logo designs
  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Anonymous.
  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Gary G. Krupp.
  • LK Weiss UNH logo submission
  • Jill E. Mahan logo option
  • Image for UNH logo submitted on Grant Bosse's Facebook page, author Charlie Perkins.
  • Corey J. Garland
  • UNH commissioned logo designs
  • UNH commissioned logo designs

The University of New Hampshire has hired New York design firm Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv to design a new logo. The silhouette of Thompson Hall that has symbolized UNH for the past decade was too Durham-centric for President Mark Huddleston. UNH Media Relations Director Erika Mantz told Foster’s Daily Democrat last week, “We need to compete nationally and internationally for students and dollars.”

Over the last half-century, Chermayeff and Geismar have created some of the most memorable logos in American commerce. Mobil. NBC. Xerox. These are the big boys, which helps explains the anticipated price tag between $91,400 and $108,200.

The firm unveiled three potential designs for a group of students the week before last, and the Union Leader published the images for the first time last week. Reaction fell into three overlapping camps. What’s wrong with Thompson Hall on its logo? Why were they spending $100,000? Why were they so freaking ugly?

Students described the Chermayeff logos as “awful,” “abhorrent” and “lackluster.” Concord political guru Jamie Burnett was among many to suggest that UNH could have come up with a better logo by simply asking the student body or the public at large.

So I did.

Last week, I started a Facebook group called Wildcat Logo Search. In just a few days, we’ve attracted more than 100 people, and shared a few dozen logo designs, many superior to the Chermayeff designs.

You’re welcome to submit your design ideas. I have no artistic talent and still created three options in Microsoft Word that rival the Chermayeff designs. Where’s my 100 grand?

If the ad wizards from New York had come up with something striking and iconic, I still don’t think it would be worth the price. Between the Whittemore School of Business and the many arts programs on campus, surely, Huddleston could have commissioned a new logo in house.

And what’s wrong with Thompson Hall? Huddleston often points out UNH is much more than the Durham campus, and so it is. But the main campus is still vital the school’s identity. Using its most recognizable building as a symbol for UNH does not undercut the value of UNH-Manchester, UNH Law School, or Keene, Plymouth and Granite State Colleges. Thompson Hall is the academic heart of everything UNH does, and a new logo won’t change that.

The $100,000 logo undermines UNH’s argument to have every dollar in Legislative funding restored. The President’s Office points out that the logo project was funded from privately-raised discretionary funds, but that hardly matters. $100,000 taken from one account means less for other priorities. While wasting taxpayer money would be scandalous, wasting donors’ funds is suicidal. UNH relies far more on the goodwill and checkbooks of alumni and friends than on New Hampshire taxpayers.

If a new logo is that important, Huddleston is trying to fix the wrong problems. UNH faces the same pressures as all American colleges as tuition skyrockets, student loan default rates rise, and college-aged population shrinks. Most schools are going after a larger pool of applicants. Smart schools are narrow-casting by differentiating themselves from the crowded higher education marketplace.

UNH has a hard time competing on price or quality. It’s a good school, not a great one, and it’s expensive for a state university. It must differentiate its product. Whittemore, excellent research programs, and a pretty good hockey team are all competitive advantages over comparable schools. UNH needs to emphasize these traits, not remodel its Twitter image.

Saint Anselm College is at a similar fork in the road. Does it surrender to grade inflation and de-emphasize its religious identity to broaden its appeal? Or does it highlight its advantages as a tough, Catholic school at the center of political universe once every four year? The choice of Dr. Stephen DiSalvo, the first non-Benedictine to serve as president, worries some alumni. It’s not Mr. Anselm College, after all.

Huddleston showed his ability to lead during a crisis when he took bold steps to avert a $26 million budget deficit four years ago. Then as now, the challenge was not unique to UNH. A new logo isn’t going to do much to address the current crisis in higher education, but it could drain energy and funds that could be used to make a real difference.

And if he insists on a new logo, let’s give him some better choices.

(Grant Bosse is editor of New Hampshire Watchdog, an independent news site dedicated to New Hampshire public policy.)

Legacy Comments7

how much will it cost to change all the letterhead, brochures, signage throughout the campus?

Here we go! Professional graphic designers swindle the university system out of $100K and deliver 3 logos that give virtually no indication what they stand for. The other submissions, presumably all amateur products, may not have up-to the-minute esthetics; but one can see at first glance what they represent. Many conclusions may be drawn, including one that I doubt Mr. Bosse will like: that 21st Century American capitalism is washed up and incapable of solving even our smallest problems.

I had a professional logo designed for a company I started for $99 online and had 15 examples to choose from; after I specified exactly what I wanted the company to represent. It was far more professional than any of this work. The logo became recognized by people in the profession. Another company started part time to supplement my income had a logo that I designed and it was a brand that became well known. Your point of "up to the minute" would imply that in the next minute it would be obsolete. "Amateur"? The only difference between a student doing a logo and a professional product is that the professional product costs much more and is more than likely being done by a former student. To your point about capitalism, the issue is that government has screwed capitalism up. Education wastes money right and left with no results.....at least corporations have an end result that benefits far more people than a university wasting $100,000 on three logos.

lol..says the person writing a comment on a web page with no less than 16 company logos.

Excellent point Gracchus! And who cares how many logos are sprawled across this web page - that fact in no way negates Mr. Gracchus' excellent observation.

The sad part here is that the 3 logos submitted for $100K are the hardest to interpret if you did not know you were looking at a UNH logo. Seriously, if a person saw the sixth logo (from left) on a shirt in Colorado, would any one think it was UNH. Even the other two by the company would not jump out as UNH, just a NH shirt. A simple glance should make a logo understandable.

Our tax dollars at work????? What a fine example of government wasting tax dollars. By the way, this logo could have been designed by students using InDesign. Where is the focus on education, where is the outrage from the crowd crying for more funding???? This is exactly why people are turned off by spending on the University system.

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