The Case for Refreshing the Mason Brand

The Mason brand has served the university well. It communicates our key brand messages including academic quality, innovation, diversity, entrepreneurial spirit, and accessibility. Mason is evolving, but its visual identity is dating. To be a competitive school, Mason should consider refreshing its brand. The Mason visual identity needs to be simplified and unified.

The current University Logo is too complicated. The full lockup takes up too much space, especially when it is combined with a unit name (Antonin Scalia Law School). Although the M alone has some issues with the quill, it has the potential to carry the Mason brand like the swoosh for Nike, the apple for Apple, and the Siren for Starbucks. When the University Logo is simplified, the unit name could be better unified and balanced.

The Mason typefaces are over the place and they show no personality. The unit names are set in TheSans and that’s it. I don’t see it being used anywhere else. Myriad Pro and Minion Pro are the primary typefaces. Adobe Garamond and Helvetica Neue were thrown into the mix for no apparent reasons. Myriad and Minion are well-designed typefaces, but they are ubiquitous. They were designed to be neutral; therefore, they lack personality. Anyone who uses Adobe products would have access to these two font families. In fact, they are the default fonts for graphic tools including InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. I have been noticing universities, such as Northeastern University and The New School, commissioning their own typefaces. I wonder if Mason would invest in custom typefaces to give the brand a unique typographic voice.

As for the colors, I would like to see the change for its primary colors or the expansion beyond the green and gold. Here are the notes on colors according to the brand guidelines:

Use Mason green and gold as the primary colors in your layouts.

Use secondary colors in combination with our primary colors to express the many facets of Mason.

Do not use secondary colors alone or as the primary color in branded materials.

Apparently we are not adhering to the guideline because the green and gold are so hard to work with.