NU replaces ‘worms’ logo

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA — After 21 years, the University of Nebraska system is saying goodbye to the swirly NU logo known as “the worms.”

The NU Board of Regents Saturday unanimously passed a proposal to change the university’s logo, after a committee of about 10 members from the system’s four universities recommended a change.

The new logo, which consists of a large “University of Nebraska” with subsets for each of the four campuses, is meant to add consistency and identity to the NU system, said Regent Nancy O’Brien of Waterloo.

“It’s visually clean and a rather unique depiction of who we are,” she said. “The hope was that it would be something that people would see and automatically associate with the University of Nebraska, and I think it does that.”

The logo, which was designed by the Bailey Lauerman advertising agency, will be gradually incorporated onto letterheads, signs and automobiles, as well as other university property during the next 18-24 months.

When the time comes to order new letterheads, erect new signs and trade in new cars, the logo will be used, said Regent Charles Wilson of Lincoln.

“We estimate that it will cost around $40,000 to incorporate the new logo,” he said. “But it will only begin to show up as we naturally replace the old materials.”

The proposal passed easily with only Regent Chuck Hassebrook of Lyons expressing mild objection.

“I think there are better uses for $40,000,” Hassebrook said. “I don’t think this is the time to spend it on a new logo.”

Richard Eckersley, a typographic specialist at the University Press, also said he thought the new logo wasn’t worth $40,000.

“I can’t say I like it at all,” Eckersley said. “The letter forms are ugly and look dated already.”

Eckersley objected to the use of a type face, which is an ancestor of an early 20th Century font called Windsor, because it didn’t suggest scholarship. He said similar fonts traditionally had been used in advertising.

“It looks like it belongs on spaghetti packets,” Eckersley said.

Although he didn’t particularly like the previous logo, Eckersley said it better fit the university than the new choice.

“The worms was better,” he said. “It was more recognizable. The new logo isn’t memorable at all.”

Eckersley said he wished more typographers and graphic designers would have been consulted for the project.

“There are many talented designers in Lincoln that were not consulted,” he said. “I certainly would have suggested something different, something with elegance to reflect the scholarship of the university.”

Sally Buchholz, interim director of public relations, said the board that was selected had a background in public relations. Buchholz and advertising professor Nancy Mitchell were the two representatives for UNL.

The board was assembled last fall to look at the current logo, as well as logos from other universities, to see whether a change needed to be made, Buchholz said.

“The committee decided that the current logo was not as well recognized as hoped,” she said. “We needed a logo that was more indicative of the University of Nebraska.”

The board decided what they wanted the logo to look like and convey, then took that information to Bailey Lauerman for them to devise a logo.

Tim Geisert, vice president of Bailey Lauerman, said the design mirrored the goals of the university.

While it wants to remain true to tradition, the university is always looking to be innovative and move forward, Geisert said.

Consequently, that antithesis is expressed through the use of the thin, modern Helvetica type – used in the words “UNIVERSITY OF” – and the classic, serif font of the word “Nebraska.”

“The fonts marry well together,” Geisert said. “It has a nice flow.”

Likewise, the curl of the tail of the final “a” in Nebraska mirrors the state’s formation, where the Missouri River bends slightly on the Missouri border, Geisert said.

“That gives some special symbolism,” he said.

Buchholz said the board was pleased with Bailey Lauerman’s design.

The chancellors of each of the four NU campuses also were pleased, Buchholz said.

Harvey Perlman, UNL chancellor, said the new logo was much better than the previous one.

“I like it,” Perlman said. “The old identifier didn’t identify anything. I didn’t think it was compelling, but the new one has a lot of good possibilities.”

Perlman isn’t alone. Three of four students interviewed in the Nebraska Union on Wednesday said they preferred the new logo.

Jake Messersmith, a senior management major, said he liked the new logo because it looked more modern.

“It looks more up-to-date,” he said. “The old logo just looks dated. I like the text of the new logo more.”

Marcia Foley, a post-graduate Spanish endorsement student, felt the opposite of Messersmith.

“I would have guessed the new logo was the older one,” she said. “The new logo looks too simple. I could have come up with that.”

Valerie Haith, a senior family science major, said the new logo could be simple, but it still was more appealing than the worms.

“I like the new one because it’s attractive,” she said. “I thought the old ‘N’ thing looked stupid.”

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