Students’ design brings new look to UIC identity
Videography by Sonya Booth
UIC’s identity has a new look.
Created by 19 graphic design students in a year-long practicum course, the new logo system reflects UIC’s history and future as a major urban university.
“This has been one of the most remarkable projects I’ve ever had the privilege to work on, because it’s not often that you are asked to represent the organization that you’re a part of,” said Cheryl Towler Weese, associate professor of graphic design.
A university’s brand and logo are important because they represent its beliefs and values to the public, as well as its students, employees and alumni, explained Towler Weese, who co-led the project with Meghan Ferrill, visiting instructor of design.
The new identity system, which replaces the logo used for more than 30 years, includes logos, an expanded color palette and language that describes campus attributes.
“The final identity consists of two pieces,” Towler Weese said. “A vertical logo says the full name of the university, representing upward momentum, the city skyline, flames, the diverse populace that comprises the university.
“It works in parallel with a circular mark that contains a slight variation on the current UIC mark. That represents the historical name of the campus, Circle Campus. Those two marks can be used separately or together.”
The new identity system was previewed to deans and campus communicators in November. It will be available to campus units beginning next semester, said Phil Weiler, senior executive director of marketing and brand management.
In the meantime, the new logos can be seen on campus banners, T-shirts for sale in the UIC Bookstores and on the UIC homepage, UIC News and News Center websites.
For students in the Design 440 senior capstone course, the chance to create an identity system for their university was a great opportunity, agreed the four who discussed their work at a Nov. 14 preview sponsored by the Office of Marketing and Brand Management.
“It is really incredible that we accomplished what we did, but I also think it is incredible that we were given the opportunity in the first place,” said Alexander Hayashi, now a visual designer at Morningstar Inc.
“I think we did a good job. We did something that accurately represents the university and Chicago.”
“It was a great opportunity that not many people get,” said Michelle Stypa, now media coordinator and graphic designer at Kreg Therapeutics. “It really helped me find the job that I have now.”
Before the students even began to design, they did a semester of research, interviewing about 150 people in the campus community and studying previous identity systems.
“I loved going into the archives at the library and being able to look at the old identities that UIC used. I liked seeing the groovy ’70s,” said Julia Jouravel, who now works at Fuzzy Math.
“One of the most important things about a brand identity is recognizing where you are from and how that got you to where you are,” said Caroline Dodd, now a designer at ForYourParty.
Even after four years on campus, the design students learned new things about UIC, they said.
“I was surprised by the diversity of achievement, and that every discipline was engaged, in some way, in bettering Chicago and the world,” Hayashi said.
Throughout spring semester, the students presented their work-in-progress to advisory committees that included deans and campus communicators. Design faculty and staff at Towler Weese’s design firm, Studio Blue, then finalized the identity system.
“I’m really proud of the work the students did. I’m really proud of the level of commitment that they all showed,” Towler Weese said. “It’s exciting to see the work go live.
“I hope that what we’ve all done together will benefit the university.”