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Facebook fuels student revolt (and eventual victory) over new logo for Middlebury College

image Seems the students didn't quite like the new logo their school came up with - and took to Facebook to mount a campaign against it! Today's Burlington (Vermont) Free Press ran this article: "Middlebury Facebook revolt contributes to college logo revision".  Unfortunately, the online version of the article doesn't include the graphics, (Huh?  Free Press staff - why couldn't you put the logos there?) but the dead tree version that I got this morning did... and I can see the students concerns.  The new logo, shown on the right, is much more "corporate" and looks like something more Canadian.  But I'm getting ahead of myself... here's the background from the article:

In fall 2006, as they began to plan for a major fund-raising drive, college officials thought about coming up with a new logo. A review committee was formed, 10 design firms were considered, three finalists were interviewed, and the winner -- the New York firm of Chermayeff & Geismar, which boasts a portfolio of prominent corporate and university brands -- set to work.

The ultimate design -- a stylized double leaf outline, reminiscent of maple -- went through customary reviews. Like any proposed logo, it drew different reactions -- some people liked it, some didn't, but on balance the reaction was favorable, said Mike McKenna, the college vice president for communications who spearheaded the process.

This summer, as college officials were getting ready to order new stationery for the next academic year, the new logo was "unveiled" to the campus community. What happened next took McKenna and just about everyone else by surprise.

Students weren't very happy when the new logo appeared on the website and so they started a Facebook group called "Just Say No to the Middlebury Logo".  From the article:

Hundreds signed on to register their scornful, amusing comments about the double leaf. Some complained it looked too corporate, others that it was too much like Canada's national symbol, or even that it evoked a marijuana leaf.

At least three students designed T-shirts parodying the logo, and Franco, who also runs her own blog, posted their images on July 11. Two played off the Canadian motif, and one -- designed by student Alex Benepe, who helped Franco with the Facebook project -- worked the logo's "M" into an entirely new college insignia, "LaMe."

Benepe said Franco's creation "grew faster than any Facebook group I've seen."

"In seven days, 777 people joined," Franco said. That was about the time, she said, when the college administration changed course and withdrew the new logo for general use.

McKenna, who already had received plenty of feedback on the logo, said he hadn't expected the Facebook reaction or the numbers. Roughly one-third of the college's students signed on -- in summertime, no less.

So one-third of the college's students joined the group - in the summer

In the end, the Middlebury administration went back and revised the existing logo a bit. As the article says:

While the college administration would not make policy based simply on people going online to express their opinions, McKenna said, the opposition couldn't be ignored, either. What he found heartening, he said, was the strength of students' institutional commitment, along with the favorable comments about the college's traditional, Latin seal.

imageThe college decided to keep using a slightly updated version of the school's traditional "latin seal-style" logo on stationary, official documents, etc.  The new logo will be used on their 5-year fund-raising campaign that is going to reach out to the wider community.  (More information is available in Middlebury's page on their Graphic Identity System and specifically their "About the process page".)

Kudos to the Middlebury administration for working with the students - and somehow I expect we'll see more of these type of stories coming out of Facebook activity!