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Communicating unit identity without a wordmark

January 22, 2021
Design

Whether or not you have a wordmark, the new brand standards encourage everyone, when possible, to buck the formality of wordmark in favor of a clear, more flexible layout that allows you to communicate more about your unit than its name. Here are some ways you can leverage a combination of on-brand design and messaging elements to highlight your unit within the context of the university-wide brand.­

 1.     Think of the Block I as your unit’s primary logo (which, it is). 

This gives you a lot more freedom to show your unit name in a number of ways by using any of our brand fonts.

In these examples, using the font Superfly for the department of Dance can suggest energy and movement in their communications. The Block I logo is integrated into the designs in a way that the wordmark couldn’t be (or at least not as effectively). On the postcard, the College of Fine & Applied Arts is written in a brand font as a part of the design, while the primary unit wordmark is displayed more formally on the back of the piece.

 2.     Instead of using a large wordmark as the focal point of your design, use high quality photos or other design elements that represent your unit in ways you want your audiences to perceive it.

The Fab Lab is a creative, engaging, community space – qualities that can be demonstrated through photographs that show people engaged in making things. 

Similarly, with this Astronomy website photo, we use photography that is likely to attract the attention of people who are drawn to things this specific department focuses on. The addition of the "Illini fingerprint" graphic overlay ties the unit-specific photo into the university-wide brand.

3.     Work the name of a degree program into a value-added, audience-focused sentence or embed a unit name into marketing copy that shares what’s great about the unit.

Here you have the name of the school, the name of the program and the name of a degree in a single postcard – no wordmark needed.

Removing the name from a wordmark allows you to tie it directly to other words you want your audience to associate with you, like "high tech" and "human focused" in this iSchool example.

Let’s look at some additional examples that put these principles to work. 

Eliminating the wordmark from this apparel design allows the college name to be more legible. The font choices add energy to the design that the formal wordmark does not have.

When you use a unit wordmark on the front of a piece, it minimizes the size of our singular, block I logo. Use your unit wordmark on the back of a piece and write out your unit name in text on the front – or incorporate it into copy. Also, avoid using multiple unit wordmarks on one piece.

Find creative ways to reinforce your unit name. In this example, Gies Business is subtly written out on the top half of the banner, so the unit wordmark isn’t necessary.

Finally, don't use a unit wordmark on merchandise or in places when there isn’t much space. Unit wordmarks aren’t designed to be used as focal points, and the text gets hard to read at smaller sizes. When you have a small print area, like on a button or a pen, communicate who you are to your audience with as little text as possible.