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The University of Illinois announced today that it will return to a single logo the orange block “I” still used by Illinois athletics as it moves to unify its branding.

As reported in Sunday’s News Gazette, the school will scrap it 20 year old “Column I” logo used by academic and administrative units since 1997.

Colleges and administrative units will begin moving to the logo immediately, but the transition is expected to last several months, the UI said in a release. Units will be told to continue using existing printed materials with the old logos until they’re depleted.

The university’s logo for most of its history, the block “I” was first referenced in campus archives is 1892. It has global recognition and will consolidate and strengthen the university brand’s impact, said Robin Kaler, the associate chancellor for public affairs.

The typeface in the full “Illinois” logo will also be modernized, to be more consistent with the Block “I” and project a bolder, more substantial image reflecting a land grant institition, Kaler said.

Chancellor Robert Jones directed staff to unify the campus logo and to clarify rules for its use. He said having multiple logos creates needless confusion for the public.

“Ultimately, this is just the first step in our effort to harness the power of the Illinois brand, work that will have tangible implications for our fundraising efforts, faculty and student recruitment, corporate support, research funding and our overall reputation,” Jones said in a release.

In 2015, the campus hired Edelman public relations consultants for $550,000 to develop a unified branding plan in advance of a major fundraising campaign set to kick off in October 2017. Amid budget pressures and faculty objections to the no bid contract, which was paid by the UI Foundation, the campus later terminated the deal with Edelman, after paying more than $300,000 for the effort.

An internal Marketing Advisory Council then coordinated marketing and communications efforts. The council worked with deans, department heads, faculty and staff across campus to refine the proposed design, address any concerns about the change, and outline a timeline for the transition.

Officials argued that the right branding is important to motivate funders and donors, recruit top faculty and students in a competitive environment, and present a coherent image to taxpayers and legislators.

Previous branding initiatives over the years had streamlined marketing efforts and consolidated the number of logos at the UI once at more than 800 but different parts of campus still use their own. That confuses consumers and makes it difficult to project a unified image for the campus, officials said.
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