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Emerson students say ‘eh’ to proposed logo

A snapshot of Emerson’s new proposed logo.Katie Burns

Some say it looks like a pig’s squiggly tail. Others think it resembles a person’s signature when they try to carefully write it on the screen of a smartphone.

Another person even claimed that the small, purple “e” that Emerson College officials unveiled this week as a concept for the school’s new logo might stand for an impassive “eh.”

Whatever the logo looks like, some current and former students are not pleased with its overall appearance — and they’re voicing their displeasure.

“It’s so disappointing that we can’t seem to make a good logo,” the editorial board of the Berkeley Beacon, the school’s independent student newspaper, wrote this week. “Does the administration really think that everything that happens on Boylston Street is captured by a swooshy, lowercase ‘e’?”


The paper even went as far as calling the proposed design, a light purple, crayon-like drawing, a “glorified squiggle.”

Seniors Charles Greenwald and Malcolm Kelner, who run a satirical blog, piled on by making a video where they asked students their thoughts about the image. Many were puzzled by the sketch.

“The child [who] designed it did a really great job,” one student replied in the video.

But school officials defended the design Friday and said that the backlash was largely based on a single photograph that circulated online after it was taken during a presentation Tuesday.

“We expected that being a communications school and marketing school that there would be strong opinions,” said Andy Tiedemann, the school’s vice president for communications and marketing. “I also feel that, perhaps, some people may be responding out of context because they didn’t come to the meeting . . . . I don’t know if they’re reacting with the full information.”

Tiedemann said the image would not always be purple, as shown in the photograph online, and could be used in various ways alongside the school’s name.


“When people could see the potential of how we could use it, we got . . . . an overwhelmingly positive response,” he said.

According to Tiedemann, the process to recommend a new school emblem began 18 months ago and included input from an advisory board made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

The school tapped Ohio-based branding and marketing firm Ologie to come up with several conceptual designs before the new logo and accompanying “college narrative” was finally floated to members of the Emerson community during Tuesday’s meeting at the school’s Bordy Theater.

The next step is to share the concept with the school’s governing boards and trustees before forging ahead, but Emerson officials expect that there could be a soft launch of the logo in the fall.

“I would say that we are toward the end of the process, but it’s not final. But we are very excited about it, and have a lot of confidence in it,” Tiedemann said. “We feel that this clearly hand-drawn mark represents Emerson’s human community of creativity.”

The school’s current logo is a tilted, lowercase “e” inside of a shield.

A few students who have come and gone from the school, and moved on to creative jobs across the country, said the proposed image misses the mark.

Steven Swyryt, a 2012 graduate, said in an e-mail that the design lacked creativity.


“I wish there was a way I could describe it other than a squiggle that someone drew in about two seconds using a fairly thick brush in Adobe Illustrator,” he said. “I truly can’t understand who would look at this logo, at the history that Emerson College has, and think, ‘Yes, this will work.’”

Kyle Hemingway Dickinson, who graduated from Emerson in 2009, said in a telephone interview that he was disappointed with the concept, and that it wasn’t a very good representation of the story behind the communications college.

“It’s such a rich, vibrant, historical place, and I don’t really feel like it was captured in that logo,” said Hemingway Dickinson, a graphic designer and creative director. “I don’t think it communicates the vibrant, diverse community that’s there. No matter what sort of craft you’re studying at Emerson, the heart of everything that you’re offered is storytelling — and I don’t think this is helping them tell their story as effectively as it should be.”

But not everyone took issue with the design.

“I believe the new logo embraces new aesthetic tendencies that better reflect the evolving face of Emerson’s commitment to communication and the arts,” said Gonzalo Ernesto Bustillos, who graduated from Emerson in 2014 and is now a regional director for an advertising agency in El Paso, Texas.

Andrew Skeels, a junior at the school, said his peers are just overreacting.

“There is nothing wrong with the new Emerson logo,” he said in an e-mail. “I have yet to hear an argument against this new branding that makes any sense.”


Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.