DURHAM — It is unclear when an advisory panel will make a recommendation to the University of New Hampshire regarding branding and logo design.
This summer, the panel representing alumni, students, faculty and staff, met to review about 75 alternate logo submissions and three professional designs submitted previously by a New York firm hired by the university.
The decision to hire Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv, and the three proposed logo designs, drew the ire of students and staff who felt the process should have been opened up more locally.
UNH President Mark Huddleston did just that, extending the feedback deadline through July 1.
Erika Mantz, director of media relations for the university, said feedback received has included a strong preference for one of the three design concepts previously proposed, alternative logo ideas and a desire not to have the current logo change at all.
After reviewing about 75 alternate submissions, most from individuals, at least two marketing professionals on the panel feel the university needs to use a professional firm, and needs to re-brand itself.
Although the image of Thompson Hall on the logo is iconic of the Durham campus, it does not express the range of offerings that now fall under the UNH umbrella, including the new law school and the UNH-Manchester campus, panel member Catherine Blake, owner and founder of Sales Protocol International and an adjunct marketing professor at UNH, said.
She is also concerned that going with an individual and not with a firm could present some legal problems.
"You can get yourself into sticky legal situations, copyright issues, even delivery issues," Catherine Blake said.
She said some of the alternative designs they received were as simple as pencil sketches, or modifications of the designs proposed by the New York firm.
Jude Blake, a member of the University System of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, a retired marketing professional and a UNH alumnus said she does not feel the full re-branding project has ever been properly communicated. The two Blakes are not related.
"This isn't about a logo design. It's about how to position UNH in a competitive marketplace on a national and international level as well as staying true to our New Hampshire roots," Jude Blake said.
The logo is just a piece in the overall brand strategy, she said, and the work that has gone into that has probably gone on for more than a year. UNH paid Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv about $65,000 for the work they have done so far.
She believes the six things the university needs to convey is pride in UNH and teaching, a recognition that UNH is part of the community fabric of New Hampshire, recognizing UNH's historic and traditional roots as a land grant university, recognition for the university's passion for and commitment to sustainability, recognition of UNH's status on the national level as an outstanding research institution, and conveyance that UNH has a broad base of constituents, not just Durham and T-Hall.
"So when you think about that, that's a lot. The logo is sort of the output of how do you position to compete and those are the attributes that would position UNH to compete," Jude Blake said.
The panel evaluated each one of the 75 or so alternate logo submissions carefully and whittled them down to some top candidates.
But ultimately, Jude Blake said the panel seems to agree that the recommendation will be to continue to use a professional design firm, although that has not been made official.
"A decision has not been made at this point. We are still working on this," Jude Blake said.
In addition to the work done on strategy and branding, she said a professional firm will also be able to deliver and deliver to scale.
Catherine Blake agrees.
"My recommendation is to go with a professional," Catherine Blake said. "I happen to feel the agency UNH chose is highly qualified to deliver what we need because they are experts in education and know how to scale to everything an institution needs."
Right now, the agency is on hold.
The advisory panel is expected to make a recommendation to university administration sometime this fall.