Widgets Magazine

Stanford rolling out new wordmark

Stanford began slowly rolling out a new wordmark to be placed on all University-affiliated websites and promotional materials last week. Reactions to the font on social media were overwhelmingly negative.

Old Stanford logo (Source: Screenshot).

The Stanford signature, or logo, will use a new free, open-source font designed by a team to mimic the curves of the Main Quad, according to University Spokeswoman Lisa Lapin. The University paid a licensing fee for the previous font used.

The Stanford Wordmark, the University Signature and the Stacked University Signature are the basic configurations of the new logo. (Source: identity.stanford.edu)

The new wordmark will be complemented by two new fonts, Source Sans Pro and Crimson Text, to be used in print and online communication. The website of the new “Stanford identity” instructs users to treat the new signature “as artwork, not as typography.”

The Stanford signature is the “uniquely drawn set 
of typographic characters that symbolize Stanford

The signature will be the only changed symbol — the Block “S,” Block “S” with tree and University seal will remain the same.


Why the font was changed

According to Lapin, complaints were received that the old signature did “not reproduce well in signage, [was] not readable from a distance in banners,…not readily compatible with some of our lengthy campus unit names and [was] particularly challenging to sew onto clothing.” It also was unsuited for small format on mobile devices.

The new signature is “clearly legible” in different sizes and formats, according to Brad Hayward, senior director for strategic communications.

“The principle for us really is the flexibility of usage and its applicability in the digital environment first and foremost,” Hayward said.

The new signature is also intended to allow various University departments to adapt their logos to limited space. Hayward noted that the design incorporated “the feedback of those who have commented on the limitations of use” of the old logo.

The word “University” was also dropped from the new wordmark to allow for versatile application.

The open-source fonts used in the new design also mean it is now cheaper, but Hayward said that removing usage limitations was the priority rather than economic reasons.

“I think it’s important for people to understand the reasons the change was undertaken: both to increase the flexibility of usage for people across the University community who need to associate their individual programs with the larger Stanford identity and also for ensuring that the Stanford mark is clear and legible and functional in the digital environment,” Hayward said.

In a statement, Lapin said the change “was absolutely intended to be a significant cost saving to the University.”

The new wordmark was a result of collaboration by the Office of the Provost, University Communications and Business Affairs. Bright, a design firm based in Marina Del Rey, Calif., created the new logo. The firm has designed for UCLA, the Grammys, Muscle Milk and Safeway. It was chosen by following what Lapin called an “extensive RFP [Request for Proposal] process.”

President John Hennessy and Provost John Etchemendy selected the new wordmark from a variety of options presented to them, according to Lapin.


An example of the new typeface used in stage signage (Source: identity.stanford.edu)

Rolling out the new font

The new wordmark is being rolled out on a gradual basis with no timeline for the University as a whole. The identity website was announced on Oct. 25 and some University-wide websites have incorporated the new fonts.

These include the University homepage, Stanford Arts, Stanford News Service, Stanford Nobel Laureates and the new Identity website.

“The various schools and departments and programs are, on a voluntary basis, able to begin incorporating the updated identity as they see fit,” Hayward said. “That means, as they are comfortable with and ready to move into using the new, updated identity, they can do so in their websites, their printed materials and the like.”

Lapin said response has been “overwhelmingly positive,” particularly from campus units, noting that her office had received praised from members of the “global design community” describing the new wordmark as a “fresh, modern and versatile solution.”

This is in stark contrast to the majority of reactions from students and alumni on Twitter and Facebook, which have largely panned the font as childish and unattractive.


Kurt Chirbas contributed to this report.

This article has been updated to reflect that the new wordmark will be complemented by two new fonts.

About Marwa Farag

Marwa Farag is a senior staff writer at The Stanford Daily. Previously, she was the managing editor of news, managing editor of the former features section, a features desk editor and a news writer.
  • Student

    Really, Stanford? This is what we’re spending our time and energy (and money!) on? It’s open source, but how much was spent to develop it? Also, how much was the previous licensing fee? Is it really worth it?

  • Student

    This new design looks childish and amateurish. No idea why anyone would think it necessary to change the font…I for one would not buy things with that ugly font on it…

  • TA

    I love typography and design and all but this is really disappointing. The previous typeface exuded class and prestige whereas this one just seems well…ordinary.

  • bittergradguy

    Apparently lowercase is in now… shameful

  • Student

    I agree with the previous comments. It’s a poor logo. The old font felt regal while the new one is too webby. Anyone could have mocked it up in Word or pulled it out of the default WordPress theme.

  • Junior

    Still not getting how this “mimics the curves of the Main Quad.” THAT was their best excuse?

  • Andrew

    Why don’t we just get it over with and rename ourselves Google University?

  • ok

    I like the new font and logo. It’s compact and to the point. I don’t like fonts and logos that dress up a name. The old one looked like what it was doing: being pretentious. The new one says who we are in an efficient way and then shuts up. We’re Stanford. Just in case you didn’t know.

  • Supporter

    I personally love it.

  • Andy

    Better for the digital world? More legible on a mobile device? What a load of bs. I’m reading this page on my iPhone and the old logo looks fine, while the new one looks like some $5 logo for a community college.

  • MemeChu

    Wanna give a shoutout to our friend George for doing MemeChu’s logo design. I think more hard work and creativity went into George’s design than the actual logo redesign.

  • sigh

    University Spokeswoman Lisa Lapin in an email to The Daily, “With
    respect to the social media reaction you reference, it is very unclear
    what has been presented to people as the “before” and “after.” A change.org petition
    circulating complaining about the wordmark update doesn’t even have the
    correct old mark — so it’s quite unclear what people might be reacting
    to. Regardless, it will not change.”


  • student

    The new font is horrible. Why change it? The old one was legitimate and pretty. Go back to the old one!

  • admin

    please change it back

  • Student

    i don’t think this article has enough evidence from Twitter. please research more random comments by Twitter users and re-post

  • Joe Vanegas

    The logo didn’t change, just the typeface in the wordmark. You have to wonder whether all the protests against the logo change are just protesting for the sake of protest.

  • Anne-Marie Lamarche

    The new logo looks unsophisticated. Not enduring. Disappointing. Hardly what one expects from a top educational institution. Let’s hope someone has the leadership chops to reevaluate this decision.

  • Anne-Marie Lamarche

    Maybe we should just change the name to leland stanford Junior University to fit better with the type.

  • David

    Hate hate hate hate hate this new logo. Sacrilege.