16 University Logos for an Impressive Academic Brand
Here are 16 beautiful examples of university and college logo designs that can be the foundation for a great academic brand.
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It’s the quality of teaching that really counts, but these awesome examples of university logos will definitely show you that your university’s logo can make all the difference in creating a memorable and unique brand image.
If the covid-19 pandemic taught us one thing, it’s that online accessibility matters more than ever. Many universities have had to switch to online classes and a surprising number has been very successful at that.
In terms of digital marketing, and more broadly good design, the current situation is once again highlighting the need for good branding. If you’ve so far relied on a historic building to “sell” your university experience to prospective students, you might need to rethink your university marketing strategy. The way your institution looks off and online will impact your brand value and, in the long run, will help you create a lasting brand image.
Here are 17 beautiful examples of university logos that are the foundation of a great college brand.
Traditional emblems and seals
I remember starting university and suddenly feeling so much more serious and mature. A classic emblem logo that universities like Harvard and Cambridge use, evokes a sense of tradition and respect. But you don’t need to have been around for hundreds of years to go for this type of logo! Look to the future and create a timeless logo design that will speak to students and proud parents for generations to come.
Many emblems have very intricate designs, which may not always look great across all uses. This iconic logo used by a university synonymous with innovation and research in health science is surprisingly simple and modern. The elegant serif typography found in the wordmark portion of the logo, complements the minimalist emblem well to create a memorable and effective primary logo, while the emblem on its own is great for use on things like business cards, varsity jackets and even yearbooks.
If you’ve decided that your new logo is going to be an emblem, you should also think about which graphic elements you want to include in the framed section. You might want to go with the university mascot, motto, or an architectural feature of your location. The most important thing to remember is that the overall design shouldn’t look cluttered. This is a wonderful contemporary example of an academic emblem that manages to include several design elements: the Canadian symbol of a maple leaf, the Egyptian eagle, pillars and an ancient building, representing civilization and a strong foundation. Even with this many elements, the emblem’s design looks crisp and would work well in smaller sizes as well.
Here’s another Ivy League name on our list, with a surprisingly current and memorable logo. Books and studying are synonymous with the university experience (what parties, mom?), so it always makes sense to include this image in your logo. What’s great about this emblem is that it includes the year of foundation, showing the college’s long-standing history and tradition, but with a more modern, minimalistic design that can be easily reproduced as sticker design or merch like hats, mugs, etc.
Who says that all emblems have to be Latin scripts and scriptures? Here’s an example of a wonderful emblem that's equal parts traditional and cool. Penn State University celebrates the college’s tradition with the symbol of the Nittany Lion, a sculpture gifted to the university in 1942. With the subtle use of gradients, the logo is perfect for both print and digital use, and thanks to an iconic mascot, it’s pretty ideal for things like social media profile pictures.
Using your university name on your logo is a great way to create a buzz around your brand and ultimately develop a lasting brand identity. There are so many techniques you can use to make a simple wordmark pop: from an interesting color scheme to gradients and drop shadows. However, remember that the most important part of any logotype is typography.
Let’s start with a very simple and effective example. The crisp sans serif typography creates a modern brand image, while the cool monogram is perfect for use on small printed materials like business cards and letterheads. Although monochrome, the logo uses contrast in an interesting way, since the typography in the wordmark is more curved with softer edges, while the U and V have very sharp and bold finishes.
Another great thing about logotypes is that you can easily create different versions to match the international nature of your institution. This university wordmark demonstrates how this idea can work really well, created with an exciting modern font Adagio Slab. Even though this university dates back to 1826, as a technology university it's important that their visual identity suggests an appreciation of trends, innovation and change.
If your university specializes or is well-known in a particular academic field, it makes sense that the logo should reflect this. A traditional serif monogram or wordmark would probably be more appropriate for a classical studies or literature department. But this sleek and dynamic design is perfect for a “trendy” field like applied social sciences.
Many people download free logo templates with the idea that they will simply edit an EPS file and create a totally custom logo. More often than not, people seem to think that this means changing the color and modifying fonts. But, what non-designers forget is that these are two hugely important design elements and they should not be picked out at random.
LSE is a perfect example of one of the simplest logos that has become immensely recognizable. Thanks to its signature red color (and not just any red, but specifically PMS 485) and the dainty yet professional typography, this logo looks tailor-made exactly for the innovative school that many contemporary thinkers, business people and leaders have attended.
Adding a simple visual element to a wordmark or monogram can be a great way to add visual interest, but retain a more classic and stylish look. This simple “V” monogram with a simple oak leaf and acorn is perfectly fitting for both business cards and letterheads, but also campus athletics merchandise and signage.
Creative combination marks
Combination marks usually consist of a wordmark portion and a graphic element. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, just pairing any font and a high-quality PNG image you can find online will make your logo look cheap and unprofessional. Instead, hire the services of a professional graphic designer (or a great design service like ManyPixels and get a logo that perfectly suits your university brand.
If your first association with Paris is a sense of style, then the latest rebrand of the University of Paris will not disappoint you. This gorgeous monogram was created in 2019, and uses an elegant custom font called together with the most iconic Parisian landmark. I hear you: at first glance, you might call this route “too obvious”. But it’s important to remember that international recognition is very important for universities, and this is a great way to attract students from all over the world. Moreover, the design choice doesn’t feel forced. The Eiffel Tower is integrated seamlessly into the letter U, making a wonderful logo mark that you can use on social media for example.
What better way to find logo design inspiration than looking at the examples of big art schools? Now, you may not think much of this modern, albeit very minimalistic academic logo at first. However, its ingenuity lies in its versatility. The clear space in the largest rectangle allows you to place different images and icons to create an interesting twist on this logo. From fun illustrations to student photos used for their ID cards.
12. Department of Fine Arts, Kyiv National University of Technology and Design
Creating a connection to your history and location is a great university marketing strategy. However, it doesn’t always have to be as on the nose as the aforementioned Paris example. This clever design uses the work of Kazimir Malevich, a Ukrainian-born painter known as the father of the suprematism art movement. For any art student, the connection is evident, but for non-connoisseurs, this lovely logo is still a great example of branding: vibrant, memorable and cool. Unfortunately, if you check out the school’s website at knutd.edu.ua, you’ll notice that this great logo concept has been unused.
How about a more traditional-looking combination mark? I hear you! Many historic universities have a crest, which can be a good starting point for a modern and new logo design. University of Surrey’s elegant deer and key help create a lasting and memorable brand image. And if you need a university athletics mascot, well then a design like this will naturally guide you to the best possible choice!
You might be cautious about using colors for your logo since this can sometimes get tricky (e.g. many non-designers forget that before printing colors on any design need to be done in the CMYK mode). And not just that, when other people use your logo (e.g. student societies and organizations), who knows what sort of mud-colored result you might end up with. For that reason, make sure that your university communications department has published guidelines on the correct use of the logo (including exact colors, typography, spacing and pixels ratio).
And if you’re not convinced that bold colors in a logo can look good, check out this gorgeous logo from Stanford. This classic color combination is definitely not going out of style anytime soon. And the redwood tree as an homage to the university’s home state is another nice and effective design element.
15. National University of Theatre and Film
Another example from the creative field is this concept created for the university of Bucharest film studies department. Using “obvious” imagery can sometimes leave people rolling their eyes, but in this case, the logo designer did a great job at meeting expectations whilst creating something fun and original. The design isn’t too noisy but is complemented nicely by details like gradients that add to a more dynamic look. It’s cool and artsy, and unique. Too bad this is still an unused concept, though.
16. Universidad EIA
The last example on this list is a very cool modern logo that could even be used as an innovative tech logo. The owl is often used as the symbol of wisdom, so it makes perfect sense this would be a good choice for a higher institution logo. However, as a school that specializes in innovative fields such as health science and engineering, a very traditional-looking logo would certainly miss the mark. It’s yet another great reminder that less really is more when it comes to effective logo design!
Having lived and studied in London and Berlin, I'm back in native Serbia, working remotely and writing short stories and plays in my free time. With previous experience in the nonprofit sector, I'm currently writing about the universal language of good graphic design. I make mix CDs and my playlists are almost exclusively 1960s.