09.May.2011 Why Oregon State’s “Angry Beaver” Logo Fails
In this post, I hope to explain why Oregon State's "Angry Beaver" logo is an eyesore and ultimately a failed brand. Let me preface this by saying I know nothing about logos or marketing. In fact, I have never taken a single course in anything remotely related to business, marketing, or branding. However, I do have a working set of eyes and know which traits they gravitate toward–simplicity, elegance, power.
With that idea in mind, I perused the web this morning trying to better understand why some brands succeed and others fail. Mainly, I looked at corporations. What I found was not surprising. Some of the objectively ranked "best" logos were simple, elegant, and powerful. See if you can spot common traits in these brands, ranked both the best logos and top brands.
I don't know about you, but what I see in common is simplicity, mostly warm colors (or simple b/w), curves, elegance, minimalism, etc. Let's compare these traits with OSU's logo.
Warm Colors: Orange is a warm color, but any positive effect is negated by the brown and black. If you notice the logos above, when they use warm colors they don't use blacks, and if they use black it's paired with white.
Curves: No clean curves on this logo. In fact, it is quite jagged.
Elegance: Fail, quite the opposite, in fact.
A company called PSFK conducted a survey looking for common traits of good brands. There were several findings, but the most applicable to OSU is this:
Design – Premium aesthetics coupled with consistent delivery wins every time. A premium experience can be applied to any product or service, no matter where it sits on the price spectrum. Make your audience feel valued, encouraging them to include you as part of their identity.
While that's cheesy marketing jargon, the main point is applicable and valid.
In summary, Oregon State's logo fails because it lacks all traits found in pleasing images. Steps toward improving the University's image should be (a) accept that the current image is in fact a failure (b) understand why the status quo has failed, and (c) invest resources into creating a pleasing and powerful brand.
I encourage those with design, art, and marketing backgrounds to chime in on this topic. Also, email this post to Bob De Carolis (firstname.lastname@example.org). Bombard him. We need this fixed ASAP.