The new Keele Logo
Keele University has an official Coat of Arms. It was adapted from the Coat of Arms of the Sneyd family, including the motto (usually changed to Thank God For Ale by generations of Keele students!) The colours red and gold represent those of the County of Staffordshire as does the chevron. The Stafford knot represents the town of Stafford, the Fleur-De-Lys Burton upon Trent and the Fret depicts the historical association with the textile industry of Stoke-on-Trent. The scythe is the Sneyd family armorial device and the book obviously represents the academic excellence of the institution and its students!
When I arrived in 1971 the logo (as opposed to the coat of arms), looked like this (right). It is still used, in various guises, for most official documents including graduation certificates
Since then there have been a number of corporate logos, most of them unpopular and short-lived. The longest lasting was adopted in 1995 and lasted until 2011. It represented a departure from its predecessors in that all of the original symbols were dropped in favour of an intertwined ribbon representing the Keele ideal of educational disciplines overlapping and combining to create a greater whole
In 2011 the current logo was adopted. It was a return to the symbols on the original shield and coat of arms. To quote the Keele web site (and with thanks to John Easom), “The new image helps prospective students, students, staff, alumni, employers and others to identify Keele immediately as an established University with a proud and distinctive tradition of providing education of the highest quality.” Green was added to represent the pastoral nature of the campus and a commitment to sustainability
So it was somewhat of a surprise (to me, anyway) when Vice Chancellor Trevor McMillan sent out an email to all Keele students earlier this week. The subject of the email was the Keele logo. I reproduce the email in full
“Last year we undertook a project to look at the university brand messaging which involved a range of consultation events with key stakeholders. Part of the feedback from this was a dissatisfaction with the current logo of the university. There was a feeling that it doesn’t reflect the character of the university, its quality, its aspirations and ambitions.
We have therefore been reviewing the corporate branding and have developed a new logo for the university. This logo is very much based on getting back to the core origins and values of the university, reflecting and respecting its heritage and history, whilst at the same time representing the strength and quality of Keele as a modern university.
The process so far has included consultation with a number of representative stakeholders but we are now at the stage where we wish to share it more widely before beginning to roll it out and beginning to use it. On this basis please find a copy of the new core logo attached.
The new logo is much more reflective of the original Sneyd family crest in terms of its design and layout, whilst the balance between the university name and the shield image is now re balanced to reflect the fact that the brand is actually ‘Keele University’ not the shield. The original Sneyd crest was red and gold and the student clubs, societies and groups have remained loyal to the red. We have therefore retained the gold but moved away from the red to enable a distinction between the student owned representation of the brand and the corporate university owned brand.
In terms of implementation, we would phase in the new logo and brand. The intention is that the new logo would begin to be used on all new materials as soon as it is released and that as existing materials need to be replaced the new logo would be applied. This means that there would be a period where old and new logos would run alongside each other. However we feel that this is acceptable in order to minimise the cost of implementation.”
Naturally, this has provoked outrage among current students, with an outpouring of support for the current logo on social media
I am puzzled by a couple of the sentiments in the corporate speak of the email. The VC claims that ‘the new logo is much more representative of the original Sneyd family crest.’ Really? A search on Google images throws up various images, most looking like the one on the left. Even if you accept that the coat of arms is the more modern one with knot, fret, fleur-de-lys and scythe, they’re all on the current logo!
It’s fair enough to say the the brand is Keele University, not the shield, but he loses the plot completely when he talks about colours and tries to make a distinction between ‘student owned representation’ and ‘the corporate university owned brand,’ with one being red and the other gold
Utter nonsense. BOTH red and gold (as well as black, adopted very early on as a third colour), have always been part of the Students’ Union and Athletic Union, with Keele sports teams using them for over sixty years
I suspect the real reason for the change is that the current logo is seen in some quarters as being too modern, and not with enough gravitas for Keele which, after all, is the thirteenth oldest university in the country
So is the VC correct in his assertion that ‘This logo is very much based on getting back to the core origins and values of the university, reflecting and respecting its heritage and history, whilst at the same time representing the strength and quality of Keele as a modern university’?
Will it attract more students, more research funding, better staff, more tenants for the business park? Will it make graduates more employable as employers better recognise Keele’s ‘strength and quality’? What do y0u think?