University of South Florida System president Judy Genshaft announced a change in branding during her fall address Wednesday at the Marshall Student Center, and a round of cheers went up as the school’s new academic logo was unveiled: A proud gold bull, next to similarly-tinted “USF” lettering, against a background of forest green.
“Do you love it?” she asked.
It was, Genshaft said, a necessary, evolutionary step, now that USF has been named the state’s third preeminent university, eligible for $6 million in funding annually.
While the familiar “Bull U” logo will remain for USF athletics, Genshaft told the audience, the new academic logo – the result of lengthy marketing and brand studies – “represents the proud and optimistic personality of USF.” The new look will officially debut during Homecoming festivities next month.
On social media, the backlash was immediate.
“I feel like I am going to Merrill Lynch University,” declared a university alumna on the college’s Facebook page. “No bueno.”
Said another: “That’s about the most hideous logo I think I’ve ever seen. For shame.”
“Who consulted?” a student asked. “I feel like this was shown to a room full of people too scared to say it sucked.”
Another Facebook posted took the lettering and typeface to task. “The font on the academic logo is dreadful. They could have simply used the same font as the athletic logo, taken off the italics, and had some cohesion. This doesn’t convey preeminence.”
Others questioned why USF needed two logos at all, when Genshaft, in her speech, had suggested the school required “a clear, consistent brand to guide us.”
Still another targeted the administration itself. “How about putting more of the tuition you take in towards academics? You know, the whole reason the university exists? Or maybe a new parking garage, so students can spend more time studying and less time hunting for a spot? Way to mismanage again, Judy Genshaft. What a spectacular display of obliviousness.”
Of the more than 300 comments on Facebook, approximately 90 percent were negative.
It was pretty much the same on Twitter: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the USF community so united as they are with keel hauling the new logo”; “It’s USF’s own fault it got this bad. It should have never been using the Athletics logo for academic branding purposes in the first place”; “One word: GARBAGE”; “This looks like the logo that comes up with some light French horn music at the start of a VHS on mitosis”; “I like it almost as much as Merrill Lynch’s lawyers surely will.”
“A complete disaster. Throw this logo off the Skyway.”
Meanwhile, the Oracle, the university’s official student newspaper, received just two comments on its news story covering the president’s announcement. One read, simply, “Poor decision.”
The other went for the jugular. “As an alumi,” it read, “I guess I am going to have to buy as much gear now with the old logo, because this new one is ugly AF.”