Memorial University no longer "of Newfoundland", Part II

June 23rd: Updated again!

This weekend I received a copy of the Memorial University of Newfoundland's latest Alumni e-newsletter, Luminus Express, and it contains a link to information about MUN's new logo.

I've previously expressed disappointment about the university's choice for a new logo, which I still hold, even after correspondence with the university's Marketing & Communications staff. I posted about this issue before, but I would like to re-state and expand upon my opinions.

For those of you who aren't aware of the issue, the Memorial University of Newfoundland has created a new logo, in which the university is represented simply as "Memorial University" - no location.


I believe the logo should continue to contain "of Newfoundland", like in the edited image below.
Not only was the university named in memory of Newfoundland’s WWI and WWII veterans, but it is the location of the university - an important fact. Although the legal name of the university has not changed, and the crest and full name will still be used for ceremonial purposes, I think it is unwise to use a logo without the words “of Newfoundland” in it. There are many reasons for this:

Many people (including members of the university’s Alumni) are strongly against a name change, and although the legal name has not changed, this new logo seems like a back-end way around the controversy.

The opinion has been raised that adding “of Newfoundland” to the logo would make it more confusing. I wholeheartedly disagree, and I believe that leaving out the location will in fact cause confusion. Newfoundlanders all know where “Memorial University” is, but most people from other parts of the country, and certainly internationally, will have no idea where "Memorial University" is when they see the logo on a sweatshirt, backpack, or in any other situation when additional text and photos are not present. The inevitable question will be “Where is that?”.
Many universities in small areas use the location in their logo (or use an acronym in their logo, like UNB). As an aside, I imagine that far fewer people would have a problem with a "MUN" logo for the university, as opposed to this “Memorial University” logo.

Contrary to the university's claim that "there is no other Memorial University", a quick Google/Yahoo search brings up several, which again presents a problem for distinguishing the university using a logo with the name “Memorial University”. This logo does not set MUN apart from other universities; in fact, it will create confusion.
- Florida Memorial University
- Lincoln Memorial University

- The Hubert Kairuki Memorial University
- Roma Memorial University

- Memorial Health University

While I understand the desire to have a short, simple, and easy to reproduce logo, I do not believe that the addition of the location to the university’s logo would be counter to these goals, although I admit that it would make the logo slightly longer/larger. To be blunt, and perhaps it is just my opinion, but “Memorial University” sounds bland and non-descriptive. Brock and Dalhousie, while they are not the official names of the university, are more distinctive names, and less likely to be confused with other universities and locations. And while people refer to the university as “MUN” and “Memorial” in conversation, when they are speaking with someone who they think will not have heard of the university, they usually mention the location; either “Memorial University of Newfoundland”, or something along the lines of “Memorial University, it’s in the province of Newfoundland, Canada” or “MUN, in Newfoundland”.

A sense of home and community is very important to Newfoundlanders. While the campaign’s incorporation of local places, people, uniqueness and strengths is to be commended, it just feels wrong not to use Newfoundland in the logo. Perhaps my emotions are too involved, but I believe that others feel the same way. I still wear my MUN sweatshirt with pride; with much more pride, in fact, than I wear my UNB shirts. That's because Newfoundland is in my blood, and my four years at MUN were an amazing experience. We Newfoundlanders are proud of our home, and we like for others to know where we are from; more so, it seems, than people from most other provinces. Although I am sure it was not the intention of the university decision makers, removing “of Newfoundland” from the logo seems to be disregarding the importance of our heritage in all things we do, and I do not foresee the same pride in a logo that simply says “Memorial University”.

A logo is a device to tell part of a story, but our location is the essential first sentence of our tale. In fact, our location is often the element that piques people to ask more – I’m sure every Newfoundlander has mentioned Newfoundland to people from other parts of Canada and the world, and received the response “Oh, I’d love to visit there someday!”, which leads to a conversation about the province. The university’s marketing campaign will elaborate on the message in the logo, but this does not mean that Newfoundland should not be included in the logo. There is much more to our story than our location, which the campaign will illustrate.

They must have realized that this issue would be divisive, so why remove Newfoundland from the logo? I realize that the question of Labrador has been raised, but the university’s legal name remains “Memorial University of Newfoundland”, so it seems that there is no need to create a logo which “avoids the geographic reference which no longer matches that of the province.”

From what I understand, the representation and name of the university has been a controversial issue for some time, and it seems that there is more to lose in removing those words from the logo than in keeping them. To rephrase and make my meaning more clear: it seems that more people will be upset with Newfoundland removed from the logo, than the number that would be upset if Newfoundland remains in the logo.

It would not ruin the new logo to include "of Newfoundland" in small grey letters at the bottom. I believe this looks better than simply “Memorial University”, and I am confident that it would make more alumni, students, and Newfoundlanders in general, happy about the marketing of their university.

I like the new video, but personally, I would not purchase university products that did not say either Newfoundland or MUN, and I am extremely disappointed that the university has approved a logo that does not include our Island’s name - our heritage.


If you would like to voice your opinion about the new logo, you can email the university's marketing and communications group at marcomm@mun.ca, and the university president Axel Meisen at munpres@mun.ca.

Note: other bloggers have also suggested emailing your opinions to Alumni Affairs at munalum@mun.ca

- - -

Update: Many other NL bloggers have commented on this issue. Read their thoughts, and join the discussion!

May 24th

john-galt83: Been a while...

metal-tiara: So, convocation has (be)come and gone

May 25th

Curo: the new MUN logo

barhaven: Grad

May 29th

Cove Blogger: MUN Name Change Redux

June 5th

Townie Bastard: Embarrassed to be in Newfoundland

Cove Blogger: Memorial University of Newfoundland

June 6th

Owen's Mom: MUN Loses its Character

June 7th

Sure B'y: MUN Branding

vickeyth: MU like a cow

Townie Bastard: (Subliminal) Truth in advertising...

johnth: MU

Townie Bastard: More MUN, then a break

Liam O'Brien: "They Just Love Irony": Fun with Logos at Memorial...

damian: Memorial University of Newfoundland

June 8th

rexton: Open letter to MU(N)

rexton: They should add rather than take away

vickeyth: The sound of silence (or nothingness) - more MU

June 12th

Townie Bastard: Petition

Sure B'y: MUN crest symbolism

Sure B'y: Of MUN visits and logos

Owen's Mom: MUN update

metal_tiara: I know that many people have...

metal_tiara: I don't have any sophisticated image editing program, but here is a first run! (T-shirt idea)

john_galt83: Memorial University (of nothing and no one)

June 13th

Cove Blogger: MUN Name Change 3.0

rj:product: MUN Remembers Beaumont Hamel

erlking: Memorial University of Newfoundland's new logo...

June 14th

s55ael: I like it!!!

Townie Bastard: You know what will happen, right?


Laurie: The new logo

john_galt83: MU(N), again

June 15th

Simon: MUN to Memorial Re-Branding

June 16th

Townie Bastard: Flickr Update & MUN Update

erlking: So I sent an email...

June 23rd

erlking: I am so angry

- - -

Sure B'y mentioned a link to MUN's explanation of the symbolism of the university's crest/coat of arms

Townie Bastard mentioned a CBC article about the issue: New Memorial Logo Drops 'Newfoundland'

Owen's Mom mentioned a 2002 letter to the editor of the MUN Gazette, in which Dr. June Harris explains her opposition to changing the legal name of the university

The Muse: Memorial re-brands

The Muse (editorial): So dark the con of MUN


This is a Hot Topic for discussion over at Newfoundlanders Abroad.


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11 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you less. I think it's a strong move. I'm an alumni (BA, 1998), and I like it a lot. As long as there's Newfoundland-y stuff in the promotion they do, then that's cool. You don't need to say where you are to show where you are. I've talked to a bunch of friends about it (not all alums), and some people don't love the logo, but everyone seems to think it's great that MUN is actually going to market itself and try to compete with the big boys upalong. I for one am willing to give my university the benefit of the doubt.

     
  2. I agree that creating a strong campaign to market the university nationally and internationally is a good move, and I applaud them in this. But as I said, most people from other parts of Canada, and certainly internationally, will have no idea where 'Memorial University' is when they see this logo on a sweatshirt, backpack, or in any other situation when brochures and photos are not present. With several other Memorial Universities out there, the potential for confusion seems high.

    Some people like or dislike the logo, and I imagine many people haven't thought about the negatives, or simply don't care one way or the other.

    I know I can be stubborn, ;) but I haven't yet heard an argument that convinces me that dropping the location is necessary.

     
  3. Love your writing. Brilliantly expressed. I agree with you. I had a big rant written and ready to post to my blog, then I read yours and knew I had nothing to add. You covered it well. Congrats on a great post.

     
  4. Thanks. :)

    Post your 'rant' too though! I bet we have some different readers. And email your thoughts to MUN! :)

     
  5. Newfoundland is not a province.

    Memorial University is in Newfoundland, sure. Island thereof. And I am entirely indifferent as to what it calls itself.

    But Newfoundland is neither a province, nor the name of a province.

     
  6. Hi WJM,

    You're correct that "Newfoundland" is no longer a province, it is now "Newfoundland and Labrador". So I will amend my statement that "...when they are speaking with someone who they think will not have heard of the university, they usually mention the location; either “Memorial University of Newfoundland”, or something along the lines of “Memorial University, it’s in the province of Newfoundland AND LABRADOR, Canada” or “MUN, in Newfoundland”.

    Beyond that, I stand by my use of the word "province".
    * Newfoundlanders (and that's what we call ourselves - Labradorians call themselves Labradorians; no one seems to refer to his/herself as a Newfoundland and Labradorian - too long) have a unique connection to home; more so, it seems, than people from most other provinces.
    * Mentioning Newfoundland to people from "away" often leads to a conversation about the province; Labrador included.


    No one is denying the provincial name change, but 3 things are important about the university's logo and name:

    (1) The official name of the university is still "Memorial University of Newfoundland". Labrador has not been added.

    (2) The university was named as a memorial to those who fought in WWI and WWII with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. At that time, people living in Labrador were Newfoundlanders living in the Dominion of Newfoundland.

    (3) As stated by Dr. Jean Harris, universities do not change their names because of a regional name change. For instance, the University of Waterloo did not become the University of Kitchener-Waterloo.

    MUN has not changed its legal name, but the new marketing campaign has almost the same effect as a name change, because for all except ceremonial purposes, the university will be known simply as "Memorial University".

     
  7. I work in St. John's as a marketing manager, and I have been watching the debate. I don't like the logo. BUT (and this is a biggie), no one is giving this thing a chance. I think it is so typical of people in Newfoundland (and doubly prnounced amongst bloggers it seems). I wait in anticipation of what I hope (OK, pray) is a unique and strong repositioning. We have to give it a chance - I'm prepared to. - Jamie

     
  8. (1) The official name of the university is still "Memorial University of Newfoundland". Labrador has not been added.

    Yip. Not contradicting you and I'm entirely indifferent to what the uni is called.

    (2) The university was named as a memorial to those who fought in WWI and WWII with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. At that time, people living in Labrador were Newfoundlanders living in the Dominion of Newfoundland.

    Actually they weren't Newfoundlanders and they were living in a dependency of the Dominion of Newfoundland.

    (3) As stated by Dr. Jean Harris, universities do not change their names because of a regional name change. For instance, the University of Waterloo did not become the University of Kitchener-Waterloo.

    I am not disagreeing with that at all.

    All I said is Newfoundland is neither a province nor the name of one.

     
  9. WJM, I think we agree on most of this. :) I was just explaining my use of the word "province", and explaining (partially for others reading this who have wondered about the Labrador issue), why the name of the university has stayed the same despite the provincial name change.

    As an aside, I'd be much happier with lengthening the name of the university than shortening it for marketing purposes.

    Jamie, thanks for your comment. You're right, sometimes people can be too quick to criticize (although I don't know that this is particularly unique among NLers or bloggers). Personally, my concern is that this new marketing campaign will cost a LOT of money to roll out, and given the public dissent already expressed, it seems wise to engage in more extensive public consultations before spending money to put the new logo on all of the university's signs, letterheads, merchandise and marketing materials.
    Once the change is made, I find it unlikely that it will be reversed.

     
  10. Hey,
    This is Bronwyn from metal-tiara.livejournal.com

    I'm glad that there are people who are on the same page with me and I didn't realize that you quoted my entry until today.

    I've been mildly harassed by a (supposed) former MUN employee at my blog because of my complaints in regard to convocation and the new logo. I temporarily made the entries friends only but know I think I will unblock them and give MUN a nice giant middle finger in their general direction!

    Keep posting!

    -Bronwyn

     
  11. Hi Bronwyn,

    Sorry to hear you've been getting pestered on your blog about this! I know people all have differing opinions about the new marketing campaign, but it'd be nice if we could all debate this like adults.

    Do you want me to un-link you here, to cut down on some of the traffic?

    Love your name, by the way - very pretty :)