On Dec. 13, 2018, President Timothy Law Snyder announced the approval of LMU’s new identity system. The new identity is comprised of four integrated marks, an updated color palette and refreshed typography. A leading objective of the redesign project was to develop a bold, graphic-intensive system with streamlined features that will be more functional on today’s digital communications mediums.
The four new marks visually arrange to form the complete LMU identity system: a redrawn university seal; a shield that extracts from the seal as a stand-alone mark; a lion “spirit mark” that extracts from the seal and shield graphics; and a redeveloped LMU “arch” logo for Athletics. The seal, known as the ceremonial mark, is the graphic basis of the system. It retains the foundational symbols of the Jesuits, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, reflecting 500 years of education in a social justice tradition. The lion spirit mark exemplifies LMU’s ambitious spirit, combining the oldest emblem of the Jesuits with the lion mascot in a contemporary fashion designed to compete effectively in a crowded higher education marketplace.
The road to LMU’s new visual identity began in 2017 with the kick-off of a comprehensive brand initiative. The university completed the largest market research project in its history, surveying a wide variety of audiences about awareness and perceptions of LMU. The research findings were discussed widely with the university community and led to the creation of the university’s first-ever brand platform and positioning statement. The visual identity was the next step in the brand development process, the most critical and foundational visual element in LMU’s plans to activate its brand initiative in 2019.
LMU’s Division of Marketing and Communications set out on the identity redesign process in January 2018, hiring Pentagram, one of the world’s foremost and accomplished identity design firms. Pentagram has worked with clients including the New York Times, Apple, the Library of Congress, Sundance, Jazz at the Lincoln Center, Samsung Galaxy, American Express, Harrods, the Poetry Foundation, Lloyd’s of London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Teach for America, Change for Kids, Art Institute of Chicago, the New York Philharmonic, The Atlantic magazine, Billboard, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Pasadena Playhouse and more. In higher education, Pentagram’s clients include USC, Columbia University, Amherst College, Yale, the University of Sussex, Middlebury College, Oregon State University and the New School. Together, Marketing and Communications and Pentagram spent months researching symbols, icons and images, as well as color and typography. The research effort delved into LMU history to glean insights into the ways the university has visually identified itself for more than a century.
In August, the identity project team presented a proposed, comprehensive new system to the university Cabinet at the Senior Leadership Retreat. With unanimous support, the Cabinet directed the team to introduce the proposed identity to the university community for feedback during the fall semester.
In a community-centered, inclusive process, Marketing and Communications presented the identity proposal to LMU audiences, stakeholders and constituencies, including academic, religious, staff, student and alumni leaders; faculty chairs; coaches; boards and councils, including the Alumni Association Board of Directors; and the community of faculty, staff, students and alumni. Feedback was also collected through an online survey during the month of October and tracked throughout the fall semester. Comments posted on social media — including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, ProBoards and others — were followed on a daily basis. Direct messages, phone calls, texts and person-to-person conversations were captured in order to gather as many perspectives as possible. All comments and responses were read and taken into consideration, and they directly inspired a series of graphic refinements to the identity system. In late 2018, the President’s Cabinet reviewed a full report of the feedback and the resulting identity refinements. The Cabinet voted unanimously to adopt and implement the new visual identity, a decision that was supported by the LMU Board of Trustees earlier this month.
LMU will begin transitioning immediately to the new visual identity; however, full implementation will take time. The university’s past identities were only partially adopted, thereby achieving limited success. The new system will visually integrate LMU’s brand identity across the entire institution.