Earlier this week alumni of the MIT Sloan School of Management received an email from the school about the new branding. It included a logo sample. While the school obviously spent a lot of time and effort on this, the reaction I have seen from alumni has been mostly negative. There is even a social media campaign to get it changed (more on #nogologo below).
Before I get into the logo issue, I would like to point out that I have been blogging about MIT/MIT Sloan-related matters for years. I generally try to give a balanced, reasoned appraisal of the issues at hand, which you can see in some of my earlier posts such as MIT Sloan Fellows: One semester down, two to go and MIT Executive MBA gets a name change and An encounter with Tim Berners-Lee and the Semantic Web. I have tried to do the same with the following post, even though there is a fair amount of frustration in some quarters.
To start, I think it would be helpful to take a look at the old logo (sorry, I don't have anything bigger) to understand what Sloan used to have for branding:
Here's the new logo:
|New MIT Sloan logo|
Here's what the announcement to alumni said:
Three years ago, we kicked off a branding effort to tell our story, and clarify what makes MIT Sloan unique. We began by gathering quantitative and qualitative insights from our faculty, staff, students, and alumni. We then surveyed the global business community to understand their perceptions of MIT Sloan. Articulations as to our difference ranged across respondents. But what became clear across the board was that being the management school of MIT was a point of distinction—inextricable from our leaders and our work.It was signed by MIT Sloan's Senior Associate Dean for External Relations and International Programs.
From this data, we were inspired to celebrate how our community lives our mission statement as leaders who improve the world, generate ideas that advance management practice—and, true to the Institute’s motto of “mens et manus”—translate thinking into action. We demonstrate that smart is our baseline. Collaboration is our cultural norm. And that solving the world’s toughest problems isn’t a lofty ideal, but our preferred reality.
Our new brand embraces this momentum and difference as MIT’s management school. Our logo illustrates the connection between the School and Institute as the fuel for innovation. Our message elevates ideas made to matter—the inventions of our brilliant minds and nimble hands working out in the world, and for it.
As we’ve started sharing the brand concepts and pillars, many of which are reflected in this brief note, we've heard that they resonate with our community's experience of MIT Sloan, and with our feelings about our School. Who we are, what we do, and how we lead continues to be what the world needs and wants. We are everywhere the future is being made, and everywhere ideas are made to matter.
We wanted you to be among the first to see our new brand. You’ll see it represented in upcoming communications and events. But more than that, we hope you’ll see yourself in it. We certainly do.
I believe it is time for a change to the branding of MIT Sloan. The old logo looked conservative, like a stately stone monument (the domed building is part of MIT's classic campus, built in the early 1900s). It looked appropriate for a top business school going up against Harvard Business School, the traditional powerhouse a few miles upriver.
But Sloan is not a monument. It's a dynamic business school that is part of the greatest institute of learning and building and innovation and discovery that the world has ever known. The branding should reflect this reality!
To that end, the new MIT Sloan logo got one thing right: The "MIT" graphic element looks more futuristic and forward-looking. Indeed, I think the new MIT Sloan logo better reflects MIT's core identity, rather than a conservative "business school" identity that is separate from the institute. That's a pretty important distinction, although I have to acknowledge that not all Sloanies agree with me (check the comments below the Change.org petition, linked further down the page).
There is also a major problem with the new MIT Sloan logo: the text below the graphic logo. MANAGEMENT/SLOAN SCHOOL is awkward and reads poorly. It looks like of mishmash of concepts and words that a design committee insisted be shoehorned into the new identity, rather than a message or brand that is focused.
For what it's worth, MIT has its own logo that looks very different from the old Sloan logo. Here's the version of the MIT logo that was used when I was a student there (and is still used today):
What do other alumni think of the new MIT Sloan logo?The response I have seen on Facebook has been savage. Lots of people think that the graphic element looks like M/T rather than MIT. Many people in my class say they preferred the old logo. On Facebook and Twitter, there is now a #nogologo campaign to get the new MIT Sloan logo changed.
Someone even created a Change.org petition to Dean Schmittlein (whose background is marketing) calling for the new logo to be amended. Here are the objections:
Key critiques are (1) logo represents M/T rather than MIT, (2) grammatically wrong "M/T Management Sloan School" and (3) distances us from M.I.T. brand which is a crucial part of our heritage. The logo does not reflect the true Sloan nature.It's up to nearly
However, I have seen some comments by current Sloan students who indicate that they accept the new logo, awkward phrasing and all. Someone in the comments section of this blog post also said that many alumni like the new logo.
Regardless, if the outrage continues, the controversy promises to become a negative distraction. Alumni clearly want a brand identity to rally around, and the current iteration of the new logo isn't it for a large number of us.
Feel free to leave your comments below.