Higher Ed Branding in The Green Mountain State

Vermont’s population is under one million people, nearing 640,000. It is a small state. But, despite its population, it still has 17 higher ed institutions. The brand marks representing these institutions fall within the typical trends you see in Higher Ed, although there are two solutions that stand out from the rest, listed below. 

Some notable takeaways:

  • 12 of 17 use serif typefaces.
  • Green is the most common spot color, with blue coming up second. 
  • Limited range and design diversity due to the small number of institutions in the state.

The highlighted brands below were designs that stood out to me.

The gallery of 17 logos is displayed at the bottom of the page. Let me know what you think on Twitter or LinkedIn!

Shields

The Norwich University logo is an impressive design. Strategic uses of positive and negative space create the elements contained within the (enclosure) shield. Its dynamic, dramatic, and has a lot of movement. This is probably one of the better shield solutions seen throughout the CommCentered archive. The title of Norwich is just as dynamic with its scale doing the talking. What is interesting to note is the use of the (™) symbol, which is not a feature commonly seen in the archive’s logos. 

The Middlebury design is a combination of a shield, campus building, and other visual metaphors all in one enclosed design. I would interpret the icons to translate to ‘global learning’ – but could be wrong. Not having them there may make the shield design less engaging but possibly better from a technical scalability point of view. One particular aspect of this solution that I like is the contrast between the minimalist-geometric rectilinear lines against the curvilinear hills behind the campus building – a possibly necessary visual contrast to serving the technical interests of the design as well as the personality-casting interests.

Campus Buildings

The University of Vermont and the Castleton logos are nearly exact opposites of one another. UV is a green-fill rectangle, Castletown is a white-fill square. Both have campus buildings, one in white the other in green. It’s an interesting study on how to separate universities in the same state that carry similar brands may compete with one another. I wonder if there is a decent amount of confusion in the prospective-student market between these two institutions. I have no doubt UV has a larger footprint and a more recognizable/memorable brand. 

The Outliers

Both the Vermont College of Fine Arts and SIT Graduate Institute has really interesting logos that absolutely differentiate themselves from the rest of the collection. Arts institutions typically have vibrant, fun, and/or abstract designs – they have to, it’s woven into the fabric of an institution like that. VCFA’s logo features a bold sans-serif type composed in a two-column two-row layout with a negative square in the center. It calls attention to itself. Artwork can [and likely is] featured within that square, rotated out to create some brand diversity. This is a great example of “less is more.” 

The SIT Graduate Institute logo is so different from everything else it is inspiring. The repeated off-center circles create a lot of visual interest, movement, and personality. The placement, layering, and color of each of the circles can be different every single time. I am concerned about the homogeneity of the design as at face value it just feels like a circle, so the implementation of the brand is likely what puts this over the top and converts prospective students into enrolled students.