University’s New Logo Is Unveiled

Posted: April 5, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Carrie Secondo Lake

Having been in development for the last year, the university’s new logo will be officially launched in late August. The following Q&A with Helen Ackerman, vice president for university relations, describes the logo development process and what will happen between now and then.

What is George Mason’s current logo, and why do we need a new one?

Mason’s current logo is the university’s name with a bar above it.

George Mason logo

It was developed in 1982, when George Mason was a very different place. We had half the students, half the buildings, only two campuses, and a very different reputation. People generally feel the current logo doesn’t reflect the dynamic place George Mason has become. And students in particular found it just plain dull!

Who selected the new logo, and what was the process?

We had quite a detailed process to select the new logo. President Alan Merten asked the Marketing Committee to work on developing a new visual identity for George Mason, and the first step in that was to create a logo. (The Marketing Committee consists of heads of major outreach units of the university–Admissions, University Life, University Relations, Development, and Alumni Affairs, as well as representatives from Athletics and the Center for the Arts.) We have a lot of talented people on this campus, from art students and faculty to professional designers, so the first question we wrestled with was whether to design the logo internally, or use an outside company.

Why did you choose an outside company?

Designing a university logo is a real challenge. The result has to appeal to a wide variety of audiences–students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and the general public. We learned from other universities that had done this that designing a logo can be somewhat contentious. If it is done internally, the perception can be, rightly or wrongly, that the artist is not impartial. An outside company also has a knowledge of the logo design field so that we can be reasonably sure that our logo is unique. And it brings an external perspective to the table that is very valuable.

What company was selected and how was the new logo developed?

An outside company called Grafik worked with us to develop the new visual image for the institution. Before starting design, the group did a lot of research, including reviewing the logos of all our competitors, interviewing a number of people, taking a campus tour, and reviewing our publications and web site. The company also reviewed student and alumni surveys for more information about student views about the university. Grafik then developed a number of designs, which were reviewed by four focus groups representative of various university constituencies–alumni, faculty, staff, and students. The designers listened to their comments and incorporated these responses into the final design, which was then selected by the president.

How did the designers come up with the logo?

The design challenge, as they saw it, was to capture the distinctive dual nature of George Mason–that of a university committed to the kind of educational excellence found at the best traditional universities, but within an extraordinary culture of innovation and diversity. They selected George Mason himself as the best embodiment of that dual nature. George Mason was strongly committed to traditional values, but at the same time he was a revolutionary, and was the author of one of the most innovative documents ever written–the Virginia Declaration of Rights. To symbolize George Mason, they selected as the logo graphic the quill, which is also used on the university’s seal. But they transformed it into something contemporary, harder-edged, that also represents a flame and a sense of movement and energy that truly represent the university. And for the university’s name, they used a combination of typefaces that suggests the diversity of our campuses.

new Mason logo

Did they create any variations on the logo?

The logo above is the primary logo and is the formal version that will be used on stationery, business cards, and our general publications. But they also designed a less formal version that is suitable for student publications or products such as T-shirts or mugs.

New Mason logo 2

When can university units use the logo?

The formal launch date for the logo is the first day of fall semester. However, we will be transitioning in the use of the new logo from April 1 onward. Those who are interested in using the new logo for any purpose should contact Creative Services. Guidelines for use of the new logo are currently being developed and will be sent to all departments during the summer.

Does the new logo take the place of the university’s seal?

The new logo does not replace the university’s seal. The seal will remain unchanged and its use is restricted to official events and documents, such as a diploma. The seal is used for occasions such as commencement and special events that represent the whole university.

What should be done with the publications and stationery that have the old signature?

In our current budget situation, old materials should not be thrown away to be replaced with the new. Now that the university community is aware the new logo is coming, we hope that orders of stationery, new publications, and other items can be planned to coincide with the introduction of the new look. In the meantime, departments should continue to use current stock until it is gone, then order new materials that will incorporate the new look.

Please contact Creative Services at 703-993-8780 for more information about using the logo.

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