Emerson’s new logo needs revision

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • April 21, 2016

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Emerson's new proposed logo.
Emerson's new proposed logo.

At issue: The logo, a decorative "e", was unveiled this week.

Our take: It does not accurately portray the student body.

We feel a little bad about what we’re going to do here.

This week, the college introduced the glorified squiggle set to become this school’s new logo. After years of focus groups and email surveys, the college—along with SimpsonScarborough, a higher education consulting firm, and Ologie, a branding agency hired by Emerson—came up with a design that amounts to little more than an errant pen mark. We know DJ Khaled references are played out, but this magnificent failure is a special circumstance: The logo’s creators have, really and truly, played themselves. They’ve also played us.

This may seem like we’re trying to make an issue out of nothing. And we agree—the logo is not the most important thing about our school, and it certainly isn’t the most pressing issue our three campuses face. But it indicates the lackluster job the administration does at acknowledging the work of its students. Some schools lack a clear identity, which makes capturing their brand difficult. Emerson does not have that problem. Every major at this school is related to communication and/or the arts; it’s one of the most well-known facts about this college. Which is why it’s so disappointing that we can’t seem to make a good logo. Does the administration really think that everything that happens on Boylston Street is captured by a swooshy, lowercase “e”?

Perhaps this crayon-like rendering of a fancy vowel is evidence of a bigger problem worth addressing—this doesn’t accurately represent what we feel Emerson students do at the college. Hark back to your childhood, do you remember Harold and his purple crayon? It appears the pajama-clad protagonist from the popular children’s book by Crockett Johnson drew our college logo. This graphic suggests we’re sleepily dreaming our way to graduation, living on our imaginations and pretty art. But we work hard here—through sleepless nights and early mornings, we are developing our crafts, gaining grit, and producing very real things. This wispy vowel demonstrates a clear disconnect between what administrators imagine students do and what we actually commit four years of our lives to achieving. We are dreamers, but we are also people of action.

If it seems like we’ve written this before, it’s because we have. In an editorial from September 2014, we discussed how the athletic department’s first logo—a poorly designed, pixelated depiction of the program which was quickly retracted after complaints from students—not only misrepresented its athletes but also stole an opportunity from budding graphic designers at our school. We’d effectively paid for a piece of clip art. In response to that debacle, administrators launched a campus-wide contest to create and choose another icon for the group. Though, ultimately, a paid image was still selected, by opening this up to the community, Emerson took a step toward more collaboration. This new proposed logo, however, takes us several steps back.

So this is meant to be a public dragging. Our meanness is warranted. This logo ought to have us all sipping tea and spilling it because it’s worse than ugly and worse than trivializing. It is actively both, under some guise of understanding what it is we do at this school. Ready your .gifs of Kanye asking “how, Sway?” because we the people need to know how this snafu materialized.