What I Think About the New Stanford Logo
by Corinne Purtill
Stanford University unveiled its redesigned online logo this week. Here’s what the new Stanford font looks like, compared to the font it replaced. A lot of people have criticized the redesign. I looked at it and was really disappointed. And then I remembered
and I was so ashamed that I cared about this for even more than a second that I had to squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head fast to rid myself of the memory.
A Google search for “new Stanford logo” yields 20.5 million results, because the correlation between people who care about the new Stanford logo and people who get things onto Google is high. (For fun I opened up a new window and searched “Sudan oil conflict,” and that got 12.7 million results, because people directly affected by “Sudan oil conflict” have other things to do.)
I don’t know how or why the new logo came about. I like to imagine John Cioffi was bouncing a tennis ball against the wall and said “I think I want to redesign the website” and John Hennessy looked up from Assassin’s Creed III and was like “sure” and six hours and three baskets of chicken strips later it was live.
That’s probably not how it happened. They probably paid more money than I have earned since graduation to a firm who gave a Draper-style presentation on why the curves of this new S are intrinsically better suited to a 21st century university. It really doesn’t matter. It’s not Comic Sans. It’s not the Graffiti Creator. It’s the word “Stanford,” in red, in letters marginally different from the last red “Stanford.”
This is a university whose whole identity is based on innovation. It is a place where people are daily engaged in the creation of artificial intelligence and robots and probably a bunch of other stuff in the CS department that goes straight to the Department of Defense. It’s a university whose students celebrate everything from shopping period to Wacky Walk as evidence of their iconoclasm. And everyone is acting like they just changed the lunch menu at the senior day center.
I didn’t like the new font. I didn’t like it because it’s not what was at the top of the page when I registered online for classes each quarter. I didn’t like it because it was slightly different from something I felt perfectly comfortable with and the world is changing in many other threatening ways that I can’t control. Then I read this post and by the time I was done scrolling to the bottom I had seen the logo enough times that it didn’t look new any more and I stopped caring.
People don’t like change. They really don’t. Even if it’s a really small change to something of minor significance in a place whose greatest asset they would otherwise swear was a willingness to accept change in all forms. It’s a font. It’s just a font. It’s. Just. A. Font.