Port Elizabeth – While the renaming of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to just the Nelson Mandela University has mostly been accepted as a positive step, reactions to its new logo have been negative.
The design was put together by Cape Town-based company Creative Caterpillar, and features the words Nelson Mandela in bold, uppercase, with the “O” in Nelson and the first “A” in Mandela, depicted as a yellow circle and triangle.
The word university is then in uppercase below.
The simplified logo is a yellow circle and triangle on a dark blue background.
Creative Caterpillar also put together a video that explained the conceptual thinking behind the logo, which was shown at the rebranding launch on Thursday.
But the logo has since come under fire.
Alumnus and Nelson Mandela Bay Democratic Alliance councillor, Renaldo Gouws, triggered a number of comments when he asked on the university’s Facebook page: “Can the significance of the logo be explained because I will be honest… it’s not really as attractive as the former logo…” when a picture of the new design was uploaded.
His remark elicited a number of other comments on both Facebook and Twitter.
Scott Zambonini wrote: “Wow guys, we offer graphic design as a course and now the branding looks like that? Who was the design company?”
Sue Paterson wrote: “We will tackle the more difficult shapes next semester…”
Siyanda Sitsheke wrote: “Please don’t tell me all along you’ve been planning for this!”
The university has since responded to the backlash, saying they had opted for a simplistic, font driven logo.
“The elements replacing the ‘O’ and ‘A’ in the name are creative elements depicting one of the university values – diversity. Legibility and less clutter is also key in a brand transition, allowing your stakeholders to easily recognise and appreciate the new name logo,” said university spokesperson, Zandile Mbabela.
Mbabela said the dark blue background represented stability and wisdom, while the secondary yellow represented vibrancy and humility.
“You will notice the yellow features a lot in African flags across the continent. That was a deliberate choice for us as we are an African university.”
NMU logo. (Supplied)
Call for student involvement
Another alumnus, Peter Larkin, questioned on social media why the university had not used their in-house creatives to do the project.
“You guys should be embarrassed… an entire art/design department and that’s the best you could do… A circle and triangle. Looks like a logo for ToysRus new range of toddler block toys. Why didn’t you present some options to the public/students to approve or let them design your logo?
“You could have run a great social media campaign drumming up hype with an initial design winner. What a lovely marketing tool, to have the new logo designed by a winning student or student design team of the university. Sounds like your marketing department is sleeping as well. The whole process along with the actual design was obviously not thought out well.”
Others also echoed the sentiment.
Mbabela however said the university had decided to use an agency that had experience in both identity and brand creation and building.
“With the objective to position the institution nationally, continentally and globally, the services of a company that had proven experience in this regard was critical,” she said.
Mbabela said the university had held numerous consultations with various key internal stakeholders in the process of creating the new institutional brand identity.
“The new name logo was presented and discussed with the university’s seven faculties as well as the interim Student Representative Council, the Senate and other external stakeholders prior to the official reveal during the launch event yesterday,” she said.
Asked why the university had not gone with a more iconic image of Mandela, Mbabela said there were already a number of likenesses and icons on the university’s campuses, including the Madiba Shirt at the south campus.
“Nelson Mandela University is the only university in the world to bear his name; it was thought to keep the logo as simplistic as possible. The font-driven name logo, which foregrounds Nelson Mandela’s name, thus suffices in this regard.”